My 16 Week Weight Loss Plan Part 2: The Workout
As a follow-up to my last post, My 16 Week Weight Loss Plan Part 1: The 5 Food Fundamentals, I am sharing my new workout plan. I have tried many work out plans, all but one of which have done very little to help meet my weight loss goals. For years I focused on cardio because I believed two very incorrect facts to be true:
Extensive cardio is the best method for long-term weight loss
Strength training is just for getting big and buff
Cardio has always been much more in my comfort zone. Though I am not particularly skilled in any type of cardio, it is typically one simple task. A cardio workout can include riding a stationary bike for 20 minutes or hopping on the elliptical for while. Strength training always seemed to me like it required some sort of skill or know-how that I didn’t think I had. In my research, I discovered three things that changed my perception:
1.Muscle Burns More Calories Than Fat
Gaining muscle means that your body will be burning more calories all the time. So while a 20 minute strength training workout may not burn more calories than an intense cardio session, you will ultimately be burning more calories sitting on the couch later than you would had you sat on the stationary bike for an hour.
2. You Won’t Get Buff Unless You Want To
Trust me when I say that those women you see in magazines who have more muscle and definition than most of the men you know had to work extremely hard to get there. Women do not gain muscle the same way that men do so there is no risk of looking like a macho man without some serious intention. In fact, gaining muscle as a woman will make you lean. Additionally, the women who are in those magazines likely don’t have a defined six-pack all the time. It takes an extreme diet to keep your body fat that low, particularly for a woman. Fitness models and competitors follow a strict regimen prior to a photo shoot or competition to get cut.
3. Feeling Strong is Empowering
As a mom, there is something very satisfying about being able to vacuum the whole house while holding your toddler in the other arm and not feeling like your arm is going to fall off. Eliminating the need for my husband to help with certain things (like rearranging the guest room in time for my in-laws to visit – a recent feat of mine) means that if he does help it’s simply because he wants to. I’m sure there are women out there who like being dependent on a man to do the tough stuff, but I find it empowering to be able to do it all on my own. That’s not to say I won’t still love when my hubby treats me like a delicate princess from time to time.
As somewhat of a beginner with strength training, I’ve decided to start with a body weight workout. While this is a good start for someone who does not already have the strength necessary to do heavy weight lifting, rest assured it is in no way easy. In fact, it may be a while before I can actually complete the workout in its entirety.
The workout I have selected consists of 4 days of strength training each week. I chose to adopt this 4 day routine to allow for the weekend off. Being a stay at home mom ,I try to make sure I can spend the weekend relaxing with my husband and son and being available to go do any activities we may want to do as a family. I will also be adding in cardio and yoga on my off days when possible. (I am a huge fan of Yoga with Adriene on You Tube.)
This body weight workout can be done in the comfort of your own home with no equipment needed aside from a pull up bar. If you don’t have a pull up bar you can find one on amazon for about $25. You can still do the majority of the workout without one but I definitely recommend it. Attempting chin ups made me sore in places I didn’t know muscles existed.
Upper body workout (2 days a week)
- Push ups
- Pike push ups (Learn How)
- Tricep dips (I do these on the edge of my bed frame, but a sturdy chair or sofa will do the trick)
- Chin ups (Need a Pull Up Bar?)
Lower body workout (2 days a week)
- one-legged squats
- Russian Hamstring curls (Learn How)
- Calf raises
Side Note: This is a really challenging workout routine if you are out of shape, hell maybe even if you are IN shape! If you are just starting out, it might be a good idea to start with one day a week upper body, one day a week lower body and cushion it with some extra cardio or yoga to get your four days in. Once you feel more comfortable, then move on to the complete routine. I decided to do this the first week and on the second week I was feeling ambitious enough to do the entire routine. Let me tell you that second week was rough!
- Aim to do 3 sets of 20 for each exercise with about a minute of rest in between. Once you can do this easily, you will need to elevate your workout either by adding weight or doing a more difficult variation of the exercises. It drives me crazy to sit and wait for a full minute in between exercises so I try to get housework done in between. I can usually get the bed made during the breaks for one exercise, tidy up the living room during the next, etc.
- Focus on form. If you can only do 5 push ups but you are actually going all the way down with focus and control, that is much more beneficial than busting out 20 half push ups.
- If you can’t do chin ups yet, just start by hanging on the bar in the top of a chin up position for as long as you can. Once you can do that for 20 seconds or so, try doing chin ups again. If you still can’t do one, just continue to lengthen the amount of time you can hang in the position until you reach the point where you can do them.
A Note about Cardio:
If you’re going to do cardio, I highly recommend doing High Intensity Interval Training(HIIT). HIIT workouts burn more calories after you are done working out than maintaining one speed on a treadmill for half an hour. HIIT cardio can easily be done on a stationary bike, treadmill or or outside running. You could probably find some alternative options on YouTube as well. Whatever you do, just make sure you aren’t maintaining the same intensity of cardio for you entire session. You should be doing moderate intensity for a minute or so followed by 30-90 seconds of maximum effort. Don’t forget to warm up and cool down for a couple of minutes as well.
Alright ladies, time to build some muscle!