What women want….
To look like on their wedding day….
Toned arms and shoulders, a slim waistline with just enough curve into toned hips, butt and legs.
How do most women get there?
By doing chronic cardio, starving themselves, and lifting light little barbie weights only a month before their wedding.
But is this really the best way to have the arms, waist and butt of your dreams on your wedding day?
If you really want to look lean and toned you can’t just do cardio and you most definitely can’t starve yourself.
You need to lift challenging weights, eat the RIGHT foods and start working toward the body you want early on.
I tell my clients (and plan to do the same myself) to plan to have reached their goal weight or body composition the week before their final fitting, which is only a month or so out from their wedding.
The last month or two should only really be maintenance.
The key throughout your workout progression toward you BIG DAY is to do compound movements. Don’t waste your time with the bicep curls, shoulder presses and tricep extensions that most programs recommend. While those can be good if you are a powerlifter looking to really isolate and strengthen weak muscles, those moves really aren’t giving you that much bang for your buck.
They don’t have a whole heck of a lot of calorie burn AND they are only working on one muscle group when you could be hitting 3 or 4 with a compound movement.
For instance….the deadlift…It works just about everything. Want a great backside? Want a toned upper back, butt and thighs?
Or any other powerlifting move for that matter. Or you can use kettlebells, resistance bands or the sled
There are a ton of different strength training things that you can do! Find some that are fun and that get you results efficiently AKA compound moves!
Also choose the compound moves that target your trouble areas.
While we can’t spot reduce areas, we can build up proper muscle tone to make our problem areas look better. Eating a healthy diet and later the added cardio we do during cutting will reveal that beautiful muscle we built up even more!
And while I LOVE lifting heavy and think that it is key to the body that you dream of having on your wedding day, cardio does become a more important part as you are trying to become more lean and toned.
That doesn’t mean you just stop lifting and start logging in tons of miles.
It means sprints, some long distance JOGS for some slow fat-burning cardio AND still an intense heavy lifting routine.
Of course once you up your intensity during the final few months before your last dress fitting, you will need to remember to take time to rest, foam roll and release some stress! Working out though can be a great way to make sure that you are still getting enough “me time” BUT that doesn’t mean you can just start living in a gym and not practice proper recovery!
10 Key Moves to Get the Body We All Want on our Wedding Day! (So many move I love, but these will give you a huge bang for your buck!)
- Deadlifts – Deadlifts are a full body move. They are perfect to tone your upper back, butt and hamstrings. Plus they are a real fat burner because they work so many big muscle groups! (I LOVE YOU DEADLIFTS AND MISS YOU!) One new explosive deadlift move I’ve started using is a rotational deadlift. I set up the bar in a t-bar row hold and put weight only on one end. So I deadlift up the end with weight and rotate toward the stand as I stand up. So if the weight is on the right as I stand up, I rotate to the left pushing the weight out and up until my arms are straight.
- Kettlebell Swings – Another great way to get a great toned hips, butt and thighs! This move may be just as good as the deadlift. It is, however, just a bit harder to master. Make sure that if you want the butt toning effects of the swing that you aren’t squatting down so much as doing a hip hinge! NOT A SQUAT! More of an RDL…but still not an RDL.
- Kettlebell Snatches – Another tough move, but a full body one. Develops explosive power, which means more muscle power! It is great to develop power in your legs, tone your core (lots of rotation and stabilization) and strengthen your shoulders.
- Pull ups – I LOVE PULL UPS or any variation of them! (You can even do a pull up and hang if you want some extra core work!) They tone your back, biceps and core! Get great arms while benefiting from the extra calorie burn of working a big muscle group like your back! (And a toned back looks pretty good in a strapless wedding dress!) Plus, if you strengthen your lats, they will help your waist look slimmer by creating more of an hour-glass figure!
- Push ups – Strengthen your chest, triceps and shoulders just to name a few muscles. Lifting heavy can sometimes just mean lifting yourself! If you want to make them even more challenging, make them explosive. As you push up, come up off the floor! They make the push ups that much harder.
- Medball Pass and Shuffle – Honestly, one of my favorite new moves. Cardio because of the shuffling back and forth. Plus it is a great move to develop lean POWERFUL muscles. Best when done with a partner. Perform a chest pass with a heavy medicine ball with a partner while shuffling down and back.
- Sled pull/push – So by pulling I mean pulling a sled toward you with a rope. Great leg, core, back and arm workout! And then if you push it back to its starting place, you get to work the entire posterior of your chain – everything from your shoulders down to your calves!
- Crawls and all variations – You can pull a chain, crawl on a power wheel, or crawl using sliders. How ever you do it, it is a great workout for your shoulders and legs. AND the more you keep you butt from going up in the air, the more you work your core. If you do use a chain, you can work your legs and butt even more. Or if you use a power wheel or sliders, you can focus more on your shoulders and core.
- Battling Ropes – A great way to get the lean ton muscles you want. Depending on which wave you make, you can focus on different muscle groups. You can work your back, your shoulders, your arms, your core and your legs. Shoot rotational waves kill your core!
- VersaClimber (or really any sprints) – These are a great way to maintain muscle and BURN TONS OF FAT!
Progressing toward the elusive perfect push up and pull up
I have many women and even some men tell me that they want to be able to do perfect full push ups and push ups.
And I say “OK!”
Because there is a way to get there! Consistent hard work and a well thought out progression based on what you need to work on will get you there!
So this really applies to any exercise that you want to be able to do, but honestly two of the exercises that most people can’t do, but should be able to do are the push up and pull up (also, most people recently have been telling me they want to be able to do these two moves so I figured I would focus on them).
First, consider all of the muscles used in the move.
For push ups, you use your pecs, shoulders, triceps, core and even your quads and legs. Most often though, people need to focus on core strength and either shoulder or tricep strength.
For pull ups, core and back strength are essential. The grip you use will also determine how much bicep is involved.
Once you identify the muscles used, you can work on those muscles. That doesn’t mean you have to start doing tricep extensions and bicep curls.
You can still do compound movements.
So to work on improving your push up, first assess where you are. Can you do a push up with your hands on an incline? Can you do a push up from your knees? And when I say “Do a push up.” I mean a PERFECT form push up from that position.
Same goes for pull ups. Can you do jumping pull ups? Can you do pull ups where you jump up and slowly lower yourself down? Can you do a pull up and hold? Or can you do a chin up but not a full pull up yet?
Get a clear picture of where you are starting from. If you know exactly where you are at, you can design a program that will get you to where you want to be.
If you don’t have a clear starting point, how the heck are you going to outline a clear progression!?! You won’t know how long it will take you to get somewhere if you don’t even know where you are starting from!!
So once you know what muscles are involved and where you are starting from, you must create workouts that strengthen your weak areas and progress you toward you end goal.
While you will want to do lots of push ups and pull ups during your progression they shouldn’t be the only thing that you are doing.
For push ups, do some core strengthening exercises. Do some crawling that targets your shoulders, core and quads. Do some form of dips, be they full dips or dips off a bench. I mean even get creative with it. Try some chest flies on the slider. Do some ab roller to work your arms and core. Battling ropes can be good. Medball chest passes are a good explosive way to work your upper body.
There are lots of ways to work. Pick exercises that target your weak points!
For pull ups, battling ropes again can be good. Working on different variations of pull ups can help. Try some medball slams into the ground. You can do ones straight ahead or rainbow slams where you slam it down on each side. Do some inverted rows. Some pivot prone pulldowns. Work on your grip strength. Heck even just playing on the monkey bars will definitely help!
And the good part about some of the things that you can do to work on both of these moves is that they will improve your overall posture and strength not JUST progress you toward a perfect pull up or push up.
There are even moves that can benefit both exercises in some way such as the parallel bar press. Just hold your body straight up off of parallel bars or a dip machine. Don’t be a “turtle” aka keep your shoulder blades pull back and down and your spine long. Your neck should be long and not tucked back into your shoulders like a turtle pulling its head into its shell. Just hold. Keep your abs engaged and your shoulder blades retracted. You will feel this in your back and your arms and even your core.
Anyway, there are a bazillion ways to strengthen your body to progress toward a pull up or push up. Don’t just flounder blindly and HOPE you will get there. SET UP A PROGRESSION!
If you need help or want some exercises to help you strengthen your weak points, let me know! 🙂
Work those major muscle groups!
So I definitely have noticed more women in the weight room recently.
Unfortunately most of these women are doing high reps with very little weight. I’ve also noticed that most of them are only doing single muscle group movements.
The exercises that women seem to love:
- Bicep curls
- Tricep extensions
- Adductor machine
- Abductor machine
While these exercises can be great auxiliary lifts for someone looking to strengthen weak points in their bench, deadlift or squat, these single muscle group movements really are pointless to do otherwise. Plus if you do compound movements, you will work all of those muscles that you are working with those isolated exercises and many more!
Single muscle group movements don’t give you much bang for your buck. You don’t burn very many calories doing them AND you can’t spot reduce problem areas. So while you may be making your bicep stronger, you aren’t specifically removing flab from over the bicep.
Your time would be much better spent doing compound movements because they work the biggest muscles groups in your body, which will help you build strength, burn fat, acquire optimal body function and improve your health.
Lifting weight while using multiple muscle groups elicits a much higher level of positive hormones than training just one muscle group at a time. These hormones include testosterone, insulin-like growth factor 1, and growth hormone. These hormones are what will help you build lean muscles, burn fat, and improve your health.
So not only are you building lean muscles, but you are also more efficiently working your entire body to burn more calories than you would if you did an isolated muscle group movement. You also improve your cardiovascular health and joint stability and muscle balance across your joints by performing compound exercises.
So if you really want to work your bicep, don’t do a curl. Instead perform a pull up or a row. If you want to work your tricep, bench press or do a push up or even a full dip. If you want to work your adductors and abductors, do a squat or lunge or sumo deadlift!
AND if you need a workout with lots of compound exercises, check out the Man Bicep Weekly Workout!