For most women, strength training is the one thing we need to do more of. Cardio definitely has its benefits and it shouldn’t be overlooked, but if you’re trying to lose weight or just feel stronger in the gym, it’s time to pick up those dumbbells and start a weightlifting program.
This can feel impossible, scary, and foreign if you’ve never done any weightlifting before, though. Sound familiar? Don’t sweat it, because we talked to Joel Freeman, Beachbody Super Trainer and cocreator of Core De Force, who gave us an exclusive strength-training plan that’s designed to help you shed fat and get lean. And it’s perfect for beginners.
First things first. How many times a week should you strength train? “Minimum four days a week,” Joel told POPSUGAR. “Five is optimal, but you can tackle all your major muscle groups in four days.” OK, easy enough. Now the question is, how do you split up those four days? Here’s how Joel lays it out for us.
Day 1: Chest and Triceps
“Those are secondary muscles to each other, so that helps,” Joel explained. Solely focusing on chest and triceps may sound strange if you’ve never done a strength-training program before, but you’ll love the way the definition shows up in your body. Having stronger pectoral muscles will make your boobs look perkier, and toned triceps will make you feel even more confident in your sleeveless tops.
One chest exercise every woman should incorporate into their program is the classic chest dip. You can do them assisted at first to build up your strength.
Day 2: Back and Biceps
This is the day that will help you look even more gorgeous in your backless dresses. Try assisted pull-ups, renegade rows, and any variation of biceps curls. You might be sore after your first few back and biceps sessions, and that’s perfectly normal. Check out these essential back exercises if you need some additional inspiration.
Day 3: Lower Body
Your legs and glutes are about to get a makeover! From squats to deadlifts to hip thrusts, there are so many different exercises you can do for your lower body. Joel says it’s better to “keep leg day all on its own” rather than combining it with upper body. This allows you to really hone in and focus on all those muscle groups — quads, hamstrings, glutes, etc. Try any of these lower-body exercises if you need a cheat sheet.
Day 4: Shoulders and Abs
Don’t be afraid of picking up a pair of dumbbells for this session. Your shoulders won’t get scarily big. “When it comes to weightlifting and women, you’re not going to get bulky,” Joel confirmed. “It’s simple: women do not have enough testosterone in their bodies naturally to gain that size and mass. It’s not in your bodies to do it.” Here’s a comprehensive list of arm and shoulder exercises you’ll certainly use along the way.
As for ab work, don’t think you have to be chained to doing sit-ups or crunches. There are all kinds of ab exercises out there that will get you flat abs and a toned midsection.