Being fashionable starts with the body beneath the clothing. You can have all of the right gym bag essentials, follow every style rule, and always look your best, but you’ll never look as good as you could if you were in shape.
No, I’m not talking about the popular concept of being “in shape” – that stick-thin, runway model look that resembles an emaciated person from a starving country. I’m talking about the “in shape” look that shows others that you care about your health and fitness.
Creating your own exercise program is actually easier than you might think. You’ll find that a great workout plan can be created easily, and you only need 3 elements to make it work:
Element #1: Stretching
Stretching isn’t just about you being able to do the splits or do a back bend, but it’s about preventing injuries and doing exercise safely. If you neglect to stretch well, you’re guaranteed to injure yourself. You’ll find that taking just a few minutes out of your day to get in some good stretching will get you ready for a good workout.
You should never stretch your muscles if they’re very sore or already hurting, as that can lead to further injuries. Your goal when stretching is to get the blood flowing to the muscles you’re going to be using, so take a few minutes to stretch before you do any sort of workout. It doesn’t matter whether you’re going hard or you’re just going to jog for a few minutes; take the time to stretch out your muscles, and you’ll be much less sore, you’ll see better results from the exercise you do, and your risk of injury will decrease drastically. Stretching improves your posture, and improved posture is essential for overall health.
Element #2: Strength Training
I don’t care if you’re the girliest girl out there: you need to work out those muscles for your health’s sake!
Many women try to avoid weight lifting because they think that it will lead to them packing on the pounds of muscles like a man, but that’s just a misconception. You can lift weights for years without ever bulking up, but doing so will ensure that you are strong. The definition of true fitness is being able to do all of your daily tasks with enough strength and energy, and muscle-building is an essential part of that.
Not sure how to lift weights properly? It’s actually pretty easy:
- Do 4 to 6 repetitions with very heavy weights to build the size of your muscles (usually men do this)
- Do 12 to 15 repetitions with moderately heavy weights to increase your strength (not much visible muscle growth)
- Do 20 to 25 repetitions with lighter weighs to tone the muscles (firming up the muscles beneath the skin and burning fat)
You can do as many different exercises as you want, but keep that number of repetitions in mind whatever you do. Think about what you want, and work out with that goal.
Element #3: Cardio
This is probably your strong suit when it comes to working out, but did you know that too much cardio is actually bad for you?
Cardio is excellent for burning fat, especially if you do very low intensity exercise over a long period of time. When you exercise at a heart rate of between 60 and 70 percent, your body is able to burn both oxygen and fat, so you’ll eliminate a lot of the fat you have stored around your body. You’ll need to exercise for closer to an hour, but it’s not too hard to keep up the low intensity exercise for that long.
If you don’t have as much time, you can go for very high intensity interval training – spurts of high intensity exercise with intervals of rest or low intensity exercise. HIIT is a hugely popular type of exercise, as well as a very effective one. Give it a try to burn fat and lose those inches around your waist.
Just make sure not to do too much of it, and get in plenty of strength training as well. Cardio alone will burn up muscles rather than fat, so train your muscles to focus on fat burning.
With these three elements, you’ve got your exercise program ready to roll!