Most women skip this much needed exercise and focus only on cardio or flexibility exercises like yoga or pilates. Strength training will not only make you lose weight and give shape to your body, it will also improve your posture, your joints will be supported well with stronger muscles leading to a stronger body. Having more lean muscle mass also helps burn more calories even when body is at rest. So more muscle mass helps you stay thin even when you skip a workout now and then.
Now in your second week of the plan, you must feel more energized with all the cardio you have been doing! Your body should be prepared to start some strength training. You can add any one of the below routines on alternate days focusing on Upper, Core or Lower body. Do remember the warm up and cool down before and after each workout.
Upper Body – Arms, Shoulders (Watch Video)
- Bicep curls – Stand straight with feet shoulder width apart. Holding the weights in
your hand so that they are by your thighs. With palms facing forward bend the elbows and lift the weights up towards your shoulders. Pin your elbows to your sides and do not move them. Slowly lower the weights back down to start position.
- Tricep Dips – Sit on the edge of a chair or bench, grip the edge with your palms. Move your butt off and away from the bench with knees bending somewhere around 90 degrees. Shift your weight on your hands by pushing your hips towards the chair/bench. Keep your back straight, bend your elbows and move your upper body down towards the floor. Push with your hands to come back up slowly. Attempt 3-4 in the beginning and focus on getting the technique right.
- Shoulder press – Sit in a chair and keep your back straight. Hold a dumbbell in each hand and left them up such that your palms are facing forward. Elbows should be held back in line with the upper body and bent at 90 degrees angle. Start from your eye level and push overhead till your arms are almost straight. Slowly lower the weights down back to eye level.
- Front raise – Hold the weights in front of your thighs with your palms facing the thighs. Lift the weights out in front in smooth movement to shoulder level. Slowly lower back down to the front of your thighs. Keep your abdominals tight and let the shoulder do all the work.
Core – Abs and back (Watch Video)
- Ab crunches – Lie down on your back on the mat. Bend your knees with feet firmly planted on the mat. Place your hands at the base of your neck. Engage your abdominal muscles and life your head and shoulders off of the floor. Hold and fall back smoothly. Attempt 8 – 12 repetitions per set. Do 3 sets.
- Oblique Crunches – Lie down on your back on the mat. Bend your knees at 90 degrees.And lift your feet off the floor. Place your hands next to your ears with elbows bent. Bring your right knee toward the chest and lifting your left shoulder off the floor try to touch the right knee with the left elbow. Repeat on other side. It should feel like a smooth cycling motion. Start with 20 repetitions and build upto 60 as you progress along the weeks.
- Russian Twist – Sit up with your back straight and feet firmly planted on the mat. Tilt back slightly at 45 degrees angle and maintain that position. Interlock your hands in front of your chest and twist your torso to the right and then to the left. Lift your legs up with knees bent at 90 degrees to make it even more challenging. Do 3 sets.
- Reverse Crunches/Back extensions – After the above core exercises, stretch your upper abdomen and lower back with reverse crunches. Lie face down, flat on the mat with your arms stretched above your head. Squeeze your buttocks and lift your arms and legs off the floor until the knees are off the ground. Also lift upper body till your nose is just off the ground. Feel the muscles contract along the entire back. Hold this position for a count of 3 and then gently lower your body. Relax for a count of 3 and then repeat. Start with a set of 4 lifts, building upto 10 lifts. Do 3 sets.
- Plank – Position yourself on your toes and elbows on the mat. Elbows directly under your shoulders. Keep a straight line through your shoulders, hips, knees and ankles. Raise yourself up so your elbows and toes support your body weight. Keep your tummy muscles pulled in tight. Don’t push your hips in the air, body should be in straight line. Hold this position for 30 seconds to begin with. If it feels too difficult, start with resting on knees before you graduate to full plank on toes. Remember to breathe and focus on holding the position for as long as you can. Challenge yourself to achieve 2 minutes plank by the end of 12 weeks.
Lower Body – Legs, Thighs and Butt (Watch Video)
- Squats – Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Keep back straight and push your hips back and bend the knees to lower yourself to an almost sitting position, thighs parallel to floor. Hold for a second. Push back up with more weight on the heels. Keep knees soft and make sure knees don’t go beyond the toes. If you find full squats difficult in the beginning start with half squats, don’t go all the way down. You can also stand with your back against a wall and slide up and down the wall for extra support. Attempt 6 squats in the beginning. Focus on getting the technique right. Start holding the squat for few seconds and challenge yourself to hold a squat for 30 seconds by the end of the 12 week plan.
- Lunges – Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and parallel to each other. Keeping back straight, take a big step forward making sure your knee does not go beyond your toe, back foot rests on toe. Lower the upper body straight down by bending both knees. Without touching the knee on the floor, slowly come back up by pushing through with the toe of the back foot and heel of the front foot. Keep knees soft and do not lean forward. Attempt 4 on each side in the beginning. Once the technique is perfected you can do walking lunges too.
- Calf Raises – Stand behind a chair with your hands resting on the back of the chair for support. Keep back straight, knees straight but not locked. Lift and lower your body weight on the balls of your feet, by lifting the heels up and down towards the floor. Use a stepper to rest the balls of the feet for more intensity. Repeat till you feel a burn in your calf muscles. Attempt on one leg at a time to make it more intense, only when you feel stronger in later part of the 12 weeks plan.
- Glute raises – Lie on your stomach, with your forehead resting on your hands. Lift one leg with knee bent at 90 degrees and sole facing up. Squeeze your butt and push your foot toward the ceiling as high as you can and slowly come back. Hips will stay on the mat throughout. Do 20 repetitions on each side. Work upto 30 repetitions by week 6.