Do You Even Lift, Sista?

Nobody ever said that the gym’s weights room is an exclusively male-only territory, yet we nearly always see only muscular men strenuously lifting heavyset dumbbells, looking as if they’re about to pop a vein. Women, on the other hand, give the weights a wide berth, almost as if just looking at them will cause their bodies to erupt into a ripped mass of muscles. Instead, you see these women panting away arduously on the treadmill, like hyperactive caffeine-fueled hamsters.

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Ah yes, cardio. Back in the ’90s, when cardio was crowned the Holy Grail in weight loss (and when the Shake Weight hasn’t been invented yet, thankfully), aerobic classes filled with leotard-clad women were all over the place. On the eternal quest to shed that jiggly layer of belly fat, most of the population trotted, cycled, or all-round pranced their evenings away.

As of today, countless studies have shown that solely-cardio workouts do more damage than good to hard-earned muscle. That’s right, those women you see sprinting away tirelessly? They’re burning fat all right, but they’re also stripping away muscle. Eventually, this leads to the body looking skinny-fat, and while this body shape is what some desire, here’s the real deal: being skinny is NOT the same as being healthy.

Muscles protect our bones from degrading, buffering us against early-onset osteoporosis. From an aesthetic standpoint, they also give us the toned, shapely look à la VS angels. If what you pursue is a lower number on your bathroom scales, then you’ll be glad to know that maintaining a healthy muscle-to-fat ratio actually burns up more calories, so keeping them intact is key to fitting in those figure-hugging jeans again.

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Over time, strength training will inject a surge of latent energy into your body, while building up an enviable physique. Think lean and svelte instead of a shapeless skinny. Remember though, this glorious transformation is not completed with a snap of the fingers, but a willful journey towards fitness. The sooner you start, the sooner you see results! What better time to embark than today?

Here are some simple but powerful routines which are sure to produce results:

1. Dumbbell squats

A photo posted by Jen Selter (@jenselter) on

Instagram beauty Jen Selter, famous for her amazing figure, credits it all to squats. Dumbbell squats not only shapes your glutes, but also gives your calves, quadriceps and hamstrings a good work out too. Bonus: it also strengthens your core, paving the way to a nice flat stomach.

Recommended: 3 sets of 12 reps.