Fitness programs for women are often wrought with bad advice and pseudoscience. It's no wonder that so many fitness programs for women utterly fail! There's plenty of great information out there, but it can be impossible to find amidst the gimmicks, fad diets, and ineffective workout routines. If you're looking for fitness programs for women that really work, try using the four following tips.
1. Lift Heavy Weights
Plenty of women make their way into the weight room now and again, but most are afraid that they'll get "bulky" if they lift too heavy. That's nonsense! It takes male bodybuilders years of dedicated effort to pack on muscle mass, and they've got testosterone and tons of food on their side. Not only will you not get "too big" by lifting challenging weights - you'll actually look better.
Lifts like squats, bench presses, deadlifts, and other heavy movements are great for stimulating your metabolism and packing on a little bit of lean mass. Whether or not you realize it, that's really what you want! The right amount of muscle gives you a lean, fit look that you simply can't achieve with cardio alone. Challenging yourself in the gym will also cause you to burn more calories, which means you get to eat more and still lose weight.
2. Low Fat is NOT Healthy!
Some nutritionists are still stuck in the 1980s' low-fat craze, but avoiding dietary fat is NOT going to get you the results you want. In fact, most "low-fat" products like crackers, pretzels, and other grain-based products will make it nearly impossible to get lean! They make your blood sugar levels skyrocket, which in turn causes your body to secrete tons of insulin - a hormone which actually makes your body store even more fat. If you're trying to get lean, ditch most of your carbs and eat plenty of olive oil, avocados, nuts, and even some red meat.
3. Ease Up on the Cardio
If you're going to start lifting heavy weights (which you should!), then you're also going to need to ease up on all of that cardio you're probably doing. Slaving away on a treadmill or elliptical is simply not necessary, and it eats up way too much of your time. It's great to do a few short sessions per week for your cardiovascular health, but hours upon hours of monotonous movement aren't going to help you lose fat.
However, there is a much better type of cardio for optimal fat loss: interval training! On a track, treadmill, elliptical, or exercise bike, simply alternate short bursts of all-out sprinting with longer bouts of active rest. For example, you might do eight rounds of fifteen-second sprints and forty-five second "jogs" on an elliptical machine. The whole thing will be over in under ten minutes, but the intensity of the workout will cause your body to burn more fat all day long.
4. Don't Under-eat
One of the worst things you can do in fitness programs for women is to eat too little. Your body is an adaptive machine, and it will respond to severe calorie restriction by slowing its metabolism way down. Have you ever noticed how lethargic, tired, and cold you get when you don't eat enough? Those are sure signs that your body is burning less fuel!
That's not to say that you shouldn't cut calories at all - your body does need a reason to use its fat stores for energy instead of your food. The key is to eat just little enough that you can burn fat while avoiding hunger. Focus first on the right food choices, and then start counting calories if you truly need to. Overall, it's best to take it slow and steady with your fitness programs for women and focus on losing no more than a pound per week.