Going Heavy to Lighten Up!

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by Jessica Doyle

Happy June! As the temperatures soar, and the social calendar fills, I’m here to help you create a fitness routine that will help you not only keep that summer body you’ve worked for throughout the winter and spring, but also make it even fitter and stronger for Labor Day and beyond – after all, a toned derriere is always in season.

Take a moment and think about your fitness routine; is it sporadic? A ‘1’ on the priority scale (easily interchangeable with a happy hour or dinner with friends)? Are you a cardio queen, carefully counting each minute you spend on the treadmill, elliptical, or bike? Are you a fitness class connoisseur?  No matter where your exercise habits may currently be, what if I told you I had an exercise that could help you burn more calories while at rest and turn your body into a fat burning furnace for hours after the work is done (now I have you!). Welcome to the world of strength training – but wait! Don’t stop reading now! I’m not talking about this:

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I’m talking about the kind of strength training that sculpts and shapes the strong and lean body you’ve always been after. Before you decide that I’m a protein chugging, iron pumping, tyrant consider this; have you ever thought to yourself ‘why are the things I’ve always done not giving me the results I’ve always wanted?’  If you’ve ever had this thought, even if just for a second, you’re ready to pick up those weights and change the shape of your body.

So where do you start? First let’s talk about the why; why should I strength train? Why should I push myself? Allow me to introduce you to EPOC, or as the scientists call it, excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, which shall forever be known to the rest of us as the afterburn. The afterburn is a period of time, lasting up to 40 hours following a workout, where the body’s internal incinerator (also known as your metabolism) is kicked up into high gear, burning away more calories than it normally would while it works to repair the muscle.

This afterburn is created after bursts of anaerobic exercise; but what is anaerobic exercise? Everything you’re hearing the buzz about now- short bursts of intense periods of work followed by recovery (the key word is intense). So how does all this fancy science take me to a magical world of fat burning, body sculpting, euphoria?! – Lift heavy weights!

Now I know exactly what you’re thinking ‘ugh, just when I was starting to like her’. What many of us don’t appreciate is that heavy is a relative term. When I first decided to take up strength training, I tagged along with my boyfriend to the ‘dark side’ of the gym (you know, that ugly room with the weights, and that smell). Upon arrival he handed me two 30 lb. free weights and said “here, chest press with these”. Well, it only took three seconds before I nearly dropped one on my face- way too heavy!! What I want you to find is a weight that challenges you but doesn’t leave you defeated or injured – your  own heavy. This weight is a weight that only allows you to complete 8-10 reps. These reps are all with perfect form, but you  have to fight to finish those last few reps; you sweat, your heart rate spikes, and your breathing becomes labored.

So, how does this fit into that summer calendar? Weight training should be done 2-3 times per week; mixing between upper and lower body with a day of either rest or lower intensity movement in between (yoga, cardio, etc.). Have a day you know you’ll be indulging a bit more? That is the day you go heavy with a big muscle group like your legs, back, or chest – big muscle group = big burn! A heavy lifting session can set up you up to torch calories and fat for hours after you put the weight down.  The fun part is, sugar will be one of the primary sources of fuel for your body during your workout. So once you drop those dumbbells, you will need to refill those glycogen stores. Have a carby cheat meal you’ve been dreaming of? This is your chance to indulge! A large portion of that sugar will go to refilling those reserves! But, before you tackle that desert cart, keep in mind that our muscles aren’t made of chips and dip (sadly). Be sure you’re also taking in protein and non-starchy veggies packed with fiber! Feed those muscles with the training they’re hungry for, and the delicious nutrients to make them strong. Then you’ll be able wake up and do it all over again. Our bodies were made to move, so take pride in starting this journey to build strength and the ability to move with confidence!
Below is a “superset” leg workout that any beginner or experienced lifter can find a solid challenge with. Complete one set of each move with little to no rest in between, before going again. Rest as needed between rounds. Remember to always choose weights that challenge you but keep you in good form – form comes above all else! It’s always a great idea to warm up with 5-10 minutes of light cardio (walking on the treadmill, elliptical, stationary bike).

Round 1
Back Squats 8-10 reps
Static Lunges 8-10 reps each leg

Round 2
Deadlifts 8-10 reps
Walking Lunges 10-15 steps out and 10-15 back

Round 3
Sumo Squats 8-10 reps
Step Ups 8-10 reps each leg

And finish it with a quick burst of core work!

Mountain Climbers 20x
45 second Forearm Plank

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  1. Monica Levine on June 20, 2015 at 8:09 pm said:

    Such an inspiring article! Thanks Jess for the inspiration! I’m ready to tackle those reps now! Keep that motivation coming!

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