How to Lift Like a Girl, Build a Better Body, and Be More Awesome
The following is a guest post from featured coach Nia Shanks of Lift Like a Girl:
You’ve already seen why lifting like a girl is a great way to build a better body and be more awesome. Now it’s time for you to discover how to Lift Like a Girl.
Lifting Like a Girl hinges on four main principles - compound exercises, using the exercises that work for you, getting stronger, and setting yourself up for success. We’ll explain each one of those in more detail so you know exactly what to do.
Focus Primarily on Compound Exercises
Before we elaborate on this component, answer this question: If you had to bust down a big wall, would you rather use a chisel or a sledgehammer? Undoubtedly you’d prefer a sledgehammer, unless you’re a glutton for punishment. The sledgehammer would allow you to bust through larger chunks of the wall at a much faster rate.
Now we can apply this same logic to strength training. Big, compound exercises such as squats, push-ups, deadlifts, chin-ups, and other exercises are sledgehammers for building a better body, and definitely for becoming more awesome. You can find my favorite exercises here and here.
Isolation exercises like biceps curls, lateral raises, crunches, triceps extensions, and others would be classified as chisel exercises. Sure, they can have a place in a training program, but they’re not going to have a big impact on your results.
That is why most of your training should consist primarily of big, basic, compound exercises. If you want to sprinkle in a few isolation exercises, that’s fine. But you’ve gotta earn them first by working hard on the basics.
Remember - use a sledgehammer!
Use the Exercises that Work for You
Some people are quick to say you “have to do exercises A, B, and C.” I don’t think you have to do any exercise. I do believe, however, in performing specific movements and using the variation that works best for you.
The equipment you have (whether you train at home with dumbbells or at a fully-loaded gym), your training history, training age, and other factors play a crucial role in the exercises you’ll use. For example, I love the good ol’ back squat and conventional deadlift performed with a barbell. Fewer exercises provide more bang for the buck. Or, if you prefer to use our previous example, those exercises are two of the best sledgehammers you could ever use.
But what about someone who works out at home and only has dumbbells? Does that mean she can’t achieve great results since she can’t squat with a barbell on her back? Or what about the trainee who just can’t pull a straight bar from the floor with good form due to a previous injury? One size doesn’t fit all, and exercises are no exception.
Use the tools you have and perform variations that work for you. Using the examples above, the home trainee can do goblet squats and other squatting movements. The trainee who can’t perform a conventional deadlift could try rack pulls or trap bar deadlifts.
It’s all about using the exercise variations that work for you.
Get Stronger and Improve Your Performance
We all want to look great both in, and out of, our clothes. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
But, and this is crucial, Lifting Like a Girl means you do not focus on losing fat, burning calories, or even achieving as much fatigue as possible at the gym. Your only goal at the gym is getting stronger and doing a little better than last time. That is what matters, and that is what will produce the body transforming results you’re after.
The only thing you should pay attention to when you work out is doing more reps than last time, adding more weight to the bar, decreasing rest periods, or performing a more challenging exercise. Forget about negative motivation like achieving total fatigue, getting “skinny” or anything else - be awesome.
You know what’s really great about training for strength and performance? You’ll achieve all the fat loss and muscle sculpting results you’re after. And, of course, you’ll be even more awesome.
Set Yourself Up for Success
What exactly do I mean by that? You must follow a program that works for you and fits your lifestyle. For example, if you know you could make it to the gym three days per week consistently, but no more, don’t vow to work out four or more times per week. Schedule your training days when you know you can perform them. I have found three to four workouts per week to be the sweet spot for most trainees.
And, please, don’t scoff at the three to four workouts per week recommendation. People nowadays are conditioned to think they must work out most days per week a la the “eat less, move more” mantra. Once again, it just ain’t true. Oftentimes, trainees who have been literally eating less and moving more for an extended period of time could benefit from doing the total opposite - eating more and exercising less.
When you lift like a girl, three to four challenging strength training workouts per week is all you need.
And finally, make sure you’re having fun with your workouts. You can accomplish this by setting goals that get you excited to train. Maybe you want to perform your first bodyweight chin-up. Or maybe you want to deadlift twice your bodyweight. Discover the performance-oriented goals that get you excited and motivated to train, and set your program up accordingly.
Now you know how to Lift Like a Girl, so start doing it today and become even more awesome.
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