I found my muscles in 2003. I was living in the valley near Studio City, CA, just over the hill from Hollywood. The band I was in had just landed a record deal with Columbia Records, and with photo shoots, television performances, and a music video in the not-too-distant-future, I wanted to get into the best shape of my life. I had always been very active; mostly running and doing cardiovascular activities, but I wasn’t seeing any changes in my body. I wasn’t sure how to create the change I wanted, so I got gutsy and hired a trainer. Game. Changer.
Right off the bat, my trainer had me lifting weights….like, HEAVY ones. We would usually meet outside, in a park. Each time I arrived to my session, he had a course set up, full of weights, giant kettle bells, bands, medicine balls, speed ladders, hurdles, cones, and jump boxes. He trained me like an athlete, because he believed me to be one…long before I believed it myself. He ignored my gaping mouth, as I stared in disbelief at the challenge set before me. He spoke over my doubts, he celebrated my victories, and over time, my body wasn’t the only thing that had changed. I walked taller. I was more self-assured. I felt empowered by having a strong body and I felt that strength trickle down to every other part of my world.
As a trainer myself now, I LOVE helping others find their power. One way I do this is by helping them find their muscles. My heart dances when a client walks past a mirror, does a double-take, and then stands there, flexing her arms, while jumping up and down for joy. Cardiovascular exercise is an important part of a complete training program, but weight training is every bit as important, and often times, is left undone. Weight bearing exercise increases bone density, which can help prevent osteoporosis. Lifting increases our lean muscle mass, which turns our bodies little fat burning machines. Muscle mass is very demanding tissue inside our bodies and takes energy to build, repair, and maintain. That translates into calorie burning and the ability to lean out. Weight bearing exercise helps balance hormone levels in the body, and some studies have linked it to the prevention of female cancers. But just vainly and visibly speaking, lifting weights sculpts and shapes our bodies like no other exercise does.
I usually do 3-4 days a week of weight training. Some days are bodyweight sessions, and some days I lift the heavy stuff. I do sessions that are no more than 35 minutes. I move through the workout at a quick pace, and often throw in cardio drills between sets. I’m always soaked after a workout, breathless, and am really glad I “showed up.” I do compound movements because I want to be efficient and I don’t have lots of time to spend on my own workout. What I mean by that is, for example, combining an upper body movement with a lower body movement like:
Forward/lateral lunges w/biceps curls
Kettle bell swings
Reverse lunge with overhead press
Plie squat with upright row
I really like little explosions of power in between lifting, so I will do lunge jumps, squat jumps, mountain climbers, speed skaters, high knees…anything to get my heart rate up and break a sweat. If you’re not currently lifting weights, I encourage you to start. No, you will not “bulk” up from weight training. Promise. Bulk comes from consuming too many calories. Building muscle mass will make your body look lean and trim and tight… “all the right junk in all the right places,” as Meghan Trainor says. :-) On days you lift, be mindful to consume protein with each meal, as your body will need help to repair the tiny little tears that happen as a result of taxing a muscle. But after repairs are made, that muscle is stronger than it was before, and your mind will be, too. Do hard stuff today.