It’s no secret that I train my arse off. Contrary to popular belief however, Pilates is not the only exercise I do. Yes I’m a Pilates teacher… but I knew that Pilates alone wouldn’t give me a strong, fit, healthy body. Good nutrition and lifestyle choices aside, in terms of my actual training, Pilates is only one component of it. The rest is made up of strength training and HIIT (high intensity interval training). I train 5-6 days a week and I train HARD. I’m 5 months shy of the big FOUR-OH and I’ve never felt better in my life.
So I suppose it’s no surprise then to learn that one of the most common questions I get asked is, “How do I get your body??”
Well… the answer might shock you.
I LIFT WEIGHTS. Heavy ones!! Regularly!!!
I know, right… How do I NOT look like a MAN?????
Unfortunately for most women who head to a gym in search of some guidance, they end up with a “cookie-cutter” program that involves lots of cardio, low-weight/high-rep strength work and (I'm guessing) zero mobility training. This is probably due to the fact that, when asked what their “goals” are, they answer “to lose weight and tone up”. I know… I’ve uttered those same exact words. (And PS, there is nothing wrong with that goal. I just don't think the average person understands what is required to actually achieve it.)
Let me give you some cold hard facts.. The only way you will really lose weight is if you address what you put in your mouth. Plain and simple. You could quite easily get to around 80-90% of your goal weight without setting foot in a gym if you are gnarly about what you eat. But that alone certainly won’t satisfy the “toning up” part of your goal (And by the way, the whole concept of - “toning up” is a bit of a fallacy.. what you want to do is strip fat and build lean muscle tissue but that’s another issue altogether.) What you are really after is feeling toned. You will NEVER achieve lean, strong muscles if you don't push them to their limits and beyond.
There is a huge misconception out there that if women lift big, they will get big. And to the untrained lay person I can totally understand why they would draw that conclusion. Hell, even I questioned it for a minute until I met the Base Body Babes (two kick-arse sisters from Sydney) and they set me straight.
One of the biggest myths debunked for me was that “women will get bulky the heavier they lift”. Replace the word “bulky” with the word “stronger” and you are on the right path. Granted, if you pump yourself full of testosterone and eat way more calories than you are burning then yes, there is a chance you will get bigger… but for most of us (who aren’t aspiring bodybuilders), if you lift heavy weights and eat a healthy diet your muscles will actually get denser and stronger and you will burn the fat on top of your muscles - thus achieving your desired lean look.
They also strenuously believe that the same training principles can apply to both men and women. It just depends on how you apply them. Follow a training regime that includes lifting heavy weights and you are guaranteed optimal strength gains and an incredible physique. Male OR Female. And who the bloody hell doesn’t want that??
So. How do I know this??
Because I’ve been training this particular strength system for the past year and I can safely say I’ve never been stronger, leaner or more physically fit. You can hardly say that I look “bulky”. And what was the first thing I learned how to do?? Squat. The second? Deadlift. And variations of these two exercises dominate my daily training regime.
There are so many other amazing benefits of strength training. If I told you it’s actually a more effective fat stripper than cardio would you believe me?? What about the fact it will strengthen your core and abs without having to ever do another sit-up or crunch?? Not to mention that it’s incredible for red blood cell production which will keep your bones strong and healthy.
But don’t take it from me. Ask an expert. Make some calls and do some research. And don’t be afraid to push yourself out of your comfort zone. Just because you might not know how to do something doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give it a go!! You never know… the results might actually amaze you.