I love CrossFit. I love running, kickboxing, weightlifting, shadow boxing… I love a whole plethora of activities, but as of right now, CrossFit takes the cake. (hhmmm, caaaaake… Sorry, I got distracted for a moment) I love the kickassery of CrossFit and the amazing feeling of accomplishment that I get from the WODs. I love love love it!!
That being said…
Personally, I’d rather look like this:
I want to look like I work out, but I don’t want to look like a “gym bunny” or like someone who can kick your ass. I would much rather have a sleek, feminine physique.
If you’re one of the people who wants what I want: read on. If not: skip this blog posting. Your kinds of posts will come later.
I used to hear it all the time at the gym: women can’t bulk up like men can. I’m here to wave the Bullshit Flag. Yes. Women can bulk up like men!!! Do we do it to the same extent? No. We don’t have enough testosterone to get to a “man’s level” of bulk. But you better believe that if you train like a man does, you’ll become a tiny version of a man’s body, but with lady parts. 😉
So this post is all about how to get into functional shape without building up your muscle mass!!
First off, you want to keep doing functional training with weights! Keep up the cardio, too! If you want a sleek, feminine physique, we’re just going to change how you do these exercises!!
Your objective over the course of a week:
- 3 HIIT (high intensity interval training) cardio sessions (15 – 20 mins long)
- 3 long, steady cardio sessions (30 – 90 minutes)
- 3 days of resistance training and/or yoga
How you break it up and pair it together is up to your body and your schedule, but at the end of a 7 day period, you should look at this list and say, “Yes, I’ve done all of that.” So for example:
- Monday: 20 min HIIT workout, followed by 45 minute walk.
- Tuesday: 30 min resistance training
- Wed: rest day
- Thursday: 15 min HIIT workout, 60 min walk
- Friday: 30 min resistance training, 60 min yoga class
- Saturday: 20 minute HIIT workout, 30 min elliptical
- Saturday: rest or 60 – 90 min yoga class
Of course, do what works best with your body and your schedule. This is only an example.
Now we’ll go over what your HIIT workout should be.
For your HIIT workouts, they can be as simple as alternating walking and sprinting. Since over the course of the workout you’re only going to be doing between 6 to 10 sprints, make ’em balls to the wall sprints!! Go all out!!! You can also do this on the elliptical, the stairmaster, the cardio rower, the bike. (Just please note: the bike is going to give you the least amount of calorie burn, and seriously, we’re trying to burn as many calories as we can right now. Make your workout count!)
side note: my fave HIIT workouts are from Turbo Fire…
For resistance training, focus on functional fitness (i.e.~ exercises that mirror daily life). I’m talking about squats, lunges, push ups, pull ups, planks, wood choppers… the list goes one. The key is to focus on your muscles working together, rather than focusing on one muscle at a time. Here are some great examples of what you should be doing (you can watch these on “mute” if you prefer. I’m just showing these as examples of proper form):
she’s doing this heavier than you’d do if you don’t want to bulk up, but her form is perfect!
your goal in this plank is to keep your hips as stable as possible, don’t let them swing with the weight shifts
Now that we know what types of exercises we want, let’s discuss the resistance level involved. If you fatigue or lift to failure, you will add muscle mass. Simple as that. So whether you do heavy weights with low reps, or light weights with high reps, if the last 2 – 5 reps are hard, you’re going to get the same results. That means that with all of these exercises, you need to be using weights that make you feel like you’re working, but STOP before you hit the point of “heavy”!!! This will help prevent the muscles from “tearing” and therefore, help you to strengthen the muscle fibers without making them any bigger!
As for the types of yoga you do, choose the style that best fits you. Since yoga doesn’t burn it’s way through calories, that’s not what it’s being used for. We want to stretch, calm the mind, and focus on feeling what our body is doing. Experiment with what works best: there’s no wrong type of yoga, just maybe a yoga that doesn’t fit your personality.
Key points: functional exercises, HIIT cardio and steady cardio, yoga, and not hitting the point of “heavy” in your weights. Stop before the reps get hard!
Of course, eating is also a large part of how your body responds to training. Make sure that you’re following the Zone diet and that you’re getting plenty of water, fish oils, and sunshine!!
As always, feel free to email or comment want questions that you have! I’m here to help! 🙂