I’ve been a trainer for a really long time. I’ve helped my fair share of famous faces and celebrities get in shape—as well as women who aren't stepping on a red carpet anytime soon.
When working with my day-to-day clients, I've noticed a trend: Many of them are intimidated to start a strength-training routine in the gym. But as I write in Women's Health's 12-Week Total-Body Transformation, while cardio is crucial to losing weight and staying healthy, it’s not cardio that will truly transform your body.
What’s more effective when it comes to body transformation is strength training. Your muscle is your metabolism, end of story. And the more you can beef up your metabolism by addressing your muscles, the better your long term-results will be. These are some of the tips outlined in Women's Health's 12-Week Total-Body Transformation and that I tell all my clients who want to see big results:
1. STOP LOOKING AT THE SCALE
You’ve often heard the phrase muscle weighs more than fat—and it’s true! That's why many clients find that they actually gain weight when the start a strength-training routine. The only way to get past this is to stop looking at the scale. Through strength training, your body ends up getting smaller, and even if you gain a couple of pounds, you’ll find that you still lose a pants size. That's because muscle is smaller and more compact than body fat. I wrote this sentiment in Women's Health's 12-Week Total-Body Transformation, I tell my clients this, and I'll say it here, too: If we're getting you into a smaller jeans, does it matter what the scale says? If we get you to your dream body, does it matter how much you weigh?
2. DON'T OVERDO IT
I’ve had the most success with my clients by getting them in the gym two to four times a week and creating a foundation of strength training (you can get more great strength training basics in Women's Health's 12-Week Total-Body Transformation); then, on top of that, we sprinkle in cardio, capping it at 35 minutes per session.
Even if you have weight to lose, that’s all the time you need! When people really want to drop a lot of weight, they immediately think, “I’m just going to do a ton of cardio,” and they’re on the treadmill for 60 to 90 minutes a day. But that's just going to make you exhausted.
3. USE HEAVY WEIGHTS
In my book, 12 Week Head-To-Toe Body Transformation, I'll introduce you to my three-step system to strength: commanding perfect technique, controlling the speed of your movements, and following the "last two reps rule." To make sure you’re progressing appropriately, always make sure your last two reps of each set are a little sloppy. Yes, sloppy! Once you perform an exercise where all the reps are perfect, it’s time to add additional weight and progress. (The rule is to add 10 pounds if you’re doing a lower-body move or three- to five-pounds for an upper-body move.) After two to three weeks, you’ll get stronger and see that it’s probably time to increase your weight load again. This is how you build strength.
4. GO BACK TO THE BASICS
You’ve probably heard of workouts structured around sets, circuits, supersets, alternating sets, climbing sets—the list goes on and on. But sometimes it’s best to just keep things simple and go back to the basics. With so many different strength-training protocols, I choose to have my clients follow a progressive resistance program that uses straight sets with specific rest between reps. That means in the gym you perform your leg press, rest for dedicated amount of time (one minute, for example), then perform your next set and so forth until you’ve completely the recommended amount of sets (usually three to four).
5. DON'T BE AFRAID OF 'ACCIDENTALLY' BULKING UP
The biggest misconception about strength training that I’ve seen among my clients is that they’re scared of “bulking up.” There is simply no such thing. The women you see in CrossFit did not get strong and bulky by one workout, or by accident. When you see an image of a woman with big muscles, you have to know she did that on purpose, over a period of time, and she was very intentional and deliberate in her workouts—this was not by accident. So don’t worry.
After gaining nearly 100lbs while suffering from PCOS, my journey to lose weight has finally ended and my love and appreciation for healthy but delicious food has just begun. This my story on how I lost nearly 90lbs while still completely indulging in life.