Ladies First: A Sure Fire Plan To Finally Get Lean and Tone

What are you waiting for?

Fitness For Ladies

Ladies, how would you like to read about a workout that's a solid, easy to follow fitness program that will burn fat, build lean, tone muscle and it actually works?

Have you ever used the adjective "flabby" when describing your arms? If not then, is there a chance you are afraid that one day you might? What if I could give you a technique that would eliminate not only the fear, but the flab as well?

Are there other parts of your figure that are starting to go? What if I showed you how to put the breaks on fat and flab and how to start living again in a lean, tone, strong body?

What if everything you thought you knew about getting lean was wrong? What if it was backwards? How many people have you seen over the years using the treadmill like a lab rat and never losing any real weight?

Is it their genes? Their thyroid? Lazy people will have you think so. Yes, there are a few people who have a medical condition, but I would venture to say that there are a lot of people taking medication for health problems that could easily be fixed through proper diet and exercise alone.

Are you tired of excuses and ready to get down to solving the problem?

The Secret to Training for Lean and Tone Muscle

There are two keys to sculpting lean and tone muscle. First and foremost is going to be adjusting your diet. That's number one! Secondly, will be the exercise.

Your diet needs to be simple and healthy. The reality is, you know exactly what you should eat and when and how much. The real question is, once you decide to do it, will you also decide to continue making that decision every day? I'll touch more on diet in a little bit. For now, let's focus on the how part of getting lean and tone.

Ladies, you need to lift weights and those weights need to be heavy. You need to train for strength. There is no need to worry about getting big. What if I told you that you can train for strength and not get big? Instead, train for strength and build lean tone muscle by training under tension.

Train with heavy weights, keep the repetitions and volume low and train often. How nice will it be to have your strength training sessions at the gym take less than 30 minutes and somehow manage to produce results?

THE CASE FOR HEAVY WEIGHT AND FREQUENT LOW VOLUME TRAINING:

Well, the first thing to look at is how to build muscle. Basically, you build muscle by training with heavy weight and a high volume. However, if you decide to train heavy with low volume , your muscles will respond by getting stronger and more efficient but not necessarily bigger. The second piece of the size pie is caloric intake. You need to eat big to get big. So basically, if you train heavy and for strength, keeping the volume low, while reducing (or certainly not increasing) caloric intake, you'll find yourself slimming down and firming up in no time. AND, you will develop functional strength that you can apply to all aspects of your life. Being physically strong and fit is not only good for the body, it is good for the soul.

Training under tension. By that I don't mean, you've got to get to the post office, drop the kids of at school, pick up the dry cleaning, go to the market, clean the bathroom, pick up the kids and find time to go to the gym before five to cook dinner.

I mean working with a heavy load. Working as close to your maximum output with good form. 80-90% of your 1 Repetition Maximum.

If you want the full story, I highly suggest you pick up a book by Pavel Tsatsouline called "Power to the People."

So, here's the plan in a nutshell.

For Strength and Lean Muscle: Train with real heavy weights for 2-3 sets of 5 or less repetitions 4-5 days a week.

For Cardio and Fat Loss: We're going to rev up the metabolism by following the Tabata Protocol and working our strength endurance.

What goes in... Your Diet Plan.

I'm going to keep this simple. Basically, you need to eat five to six small balanced meals per day. Your diet shouldn't be a "diet" but a lifestyle. You'll want to develop your diet over time, gradually. Make small weekly changes that you can slowly adjust to.

For example, ultimately you're going to want to rid yourself of processed sugar and high fructose corn syrup. They are mostly empty calories that are only good for your sweet tooth. So start there. Eliminate all processed sugar. Start using honey or agave nectar for your coffee, switch out the sodas for good old water, and start eliminating fast food. Or at least when you do go for fast food, try to get the "healthier" items on the menu.

Work on that for 2-3 weeks and then when you feel like you got that under control, it's time for something else, like eliminating all white and processed starches. Start eating yams instead of white potatoes. Brown rice for white rice, whole grain and wheat breads instead of white bread.  Wheat pasta too is amazing.

The bottom line with eating is this: Be smart. You know an apple is a better snack than a candy bar. Eat well.

If I was to recommend a book to read on eating and developing a solid eating plan, it would be Perfect Weight America by Jordan Rubin. What I like about this book is it's easy to read, follow and it's "doable." It also sets you up for a lifestyle of eating habits and it is not just another "fad" diet.

Romanian Dead Lift
Romanian Dead Lift
Standing Over Head Press
Standing Over Head Press
Hanging Leg Raise
Hanging Leg Raise

Getting the Work Done

Strength train with heavy weights 3 to 4 days per week. I'm going to assume you have a membership to a gym.

You will also want to plug in 3 "Cardio" sessions per week.

Finish each session with the "Core Exercises"

Your weight training should be no more than five days a week. You will do 2 full body exercises. Two? Why only 2? Well if you do them right and well, you will hit every major muscle group as well as isolate many of the typical target areas for women, mainly the backside, midsection and the arms. Remember, we're trying to keep this short, simple and effective.

"Strength Training"

Romanian Dead lift. Perform 2 sets of 3 repetitions. You will want to work up to 5 reps then ad 5 pounds and start back at 3 reps.

Standing Overhead Press. Again, perform 2 sets of 3 repetitions. You will want to work up to 5 reps then ad 5 pounds and start back at 3 reps.

"Core Training"

Hanging Leg Raises. 2 sets of 5 and work up to 2 sets of 15.

Push Up to a Plank. 2 sets of 5 and work up to 2 sets of 30.

Shoulder Bridges. 2 sets of 5 and work up to 2 sets of 30.

"Cardio"

Tabata on BIke for 12 minutes + Stair Climber or Rowing Machine for 20 to 30 minutes.

In the next section, we'll break down each exercise and then we'll put it all together.

Push Up to...
Push Up to...
a plank!
a plank!
Shoulder Bridge
Shoulder Bridge

The How's and Why's

Ladies, keep in mind, before starting any exercise program, make sure to clear it with the doc and if you haven't exercised in a while, it's OK to see a good personal trainer to get some solid instruction on exercise performance. I'm going to try to keep these descriptions bried and simple.

Feel free to ask a question in the comment section too.

Weight selection. Pick a weight that is light to begin with. Practice the exercise and the movement to get comfortable with what you are doing. If you're not confident with a lift or a movement, don't add any weight yet. The goal here is good proper movement and developing strength with in a correct and effective movement pattern. So get comfortable with the drills first, then find a weight that is very challenging and will require 110% of your undivided attention.

The Romanian Dead lift: You can use a Barbell (preferred) or a pair of Dumbbells. Kettlebell(s) work too. What's most important is that the weight is heavy yet manageable. Before getting into the "how" I want to focus on a couple key points. The main one being, at no point during this or any other drill, should your spine round. You want to keep your spine straight.

Start this drill will the weight on the floor. Sit back with your spine straight. It's OK to hinge at the hips, just no rounding please. Keep pulling yourself back and down until you can reach the bar. There's no need to look down either. Once you have your grip on the bar, tighten up and stand up.

This is the starting position for the drill. Your feet are shoulder width apart, your spine is straight, shoulders back, head up. Kind of like standing at attention. Remember to tighten up your mid-section and your glutes. Your knees should be bent just a little bit.

From here, slowly push your butt backwards. Keep the weight close to your body and fold forward as if you are bowing to Mr. Miyagi. Look eye!

Go as low as you can, as comfortably and as safely as your flexibility and current fitness level will allow. Stay tight the whole time and simply reverse the movement back to the top.  Squeeze the glutes again.

This exercise will work the back of the legs and your hips. Proper training of this drill will help you to develop functional strength to go with a tighter backside!

Perform 2 sets. One as heavy as you can for 3-5 repetitions and then a second set or 3 -5 with 90% of the last weight. So if your first set was 50 pounds, the next set will be 45. Once you can do 2 sets of 5 with the same weight with perfect form, it's time to add 5 pounds and start back at 3.

Standing Overhead Press: Dumbbells, Barbell or Kettlebells work here. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Pick up the weight just like you did for the Deadlift only this time, pop the hips at the top and bring the weight up to your shoulders. With your glutes tightened and your abs and core tight, squeeze the bar and press. Mr. Tsatsouline says to envision that you're pushing yourself away from the bar, not the other way around. It's done wonders for me, so give it a try! At the top, try to keep your shoulders in their socket, lock your elbows and squeeze the triceps. Return the weight to your shoulders slowly as if you were pulling it down to you.

This should work your whole upper body. Again, 2 sets of 3. Second set lighter that the first by 10%, work up to 2 x 5 and then add weight.

When the weight gets so heavy that you can't perform 3 perfect reps, pull some weight off the bar and start back up. For example, you start your dead lifting at 50 pounds and over the next 16 workouts, adding 25 pounds to the bar and you get 2 with the 85, but stop short because one more might not happen. No problem! Next time you train, start with 60 pounds and work your way back up. This way you'll never burn out!

If you decide a more detailed explanation would help, definitely read Pavel Tsatsouline's "Power to the People."

Hanging Leg Raise: Go find a pull up bar and grab on. Get yourself comfortable in this position. Stop and reset a few time if you need to. If your grip fails you, that's OK. You can work up to the leg raise part simply by practicing holding on as long as you can. When you're comfortable with hanging, slow start to bring your knees toward your chest. Slowly return to hanging straight legs and repeat. Also, make sure to keep your shoulders in their sockets as best you can. Once you're proficient with bringing your knees to your chest, start working towards do it with your legs straight.

Push Up to a Plank: This exercise is just like it says. Get in a push up position and then one arm at a time lower yourself into a plank position and then back to the push up position. That's one repetition.

Shoulder Bridge: On your back, legs bent in a 90 degree angle. Arms and hands are extended from your torso at a 45 degree angle. Driving up from your heals, raise your butt off the floor. Hold it at the top for a second, squeeze everything, and return to the floor.

Tabata Protocol on the Bike: This will 4 minutes of metabolic revving, fat burning, heart pumping fun. Hop on an exercise bike. Upright or recumbent works. Set the timer for 12 minutes. Spend the first 4 minutes at a moderate pace. Just get moving and get a little sweat going. After the first 4 minutes, you'll spend the next 4 minutes going all out for 20 seconds and then 10 seconds back at that moderate pace. So that's 20 seconds of peddling as hard as you can followed by 10 seconds of easy going peddling. After those 4 minutes, spend the last 4 getting your heart rate back to normal.

I won't get into all the specifics behind it, but this type of high intensity interval training is great for the ticker and will boost your metabolism which will have a nice effect on body composition.

Cardio: (optional) As if those last 12 minutes weren't enough, if you got the gas or can't quite grasp the idea that 12 minutes is really all you need, then go get on either a rowing machine or stair-climber. Not the stair-master mind you but the one that has actual steps. Go at this for 20-30 minutes and make sure you're working on it. No reading or watching TV.

Putting it all together

I'm going to let you figure out how best to put this into play for your life. But here would be my recommendations:

Monday's Wednesday's and Friday's practice your strength training and core work.

Tuesday's Thursday's and Saturday's practice the Tabata Protocol and the (optional) Cardio with the Core work.

These workouts are designed to be quick. There's no need to spend hours in the gym. Get in, do the work and move on with your day. Six days a week in not too much considering the duration of the workout, besides, you want to be doing something daily for yourself and for your fitness.

If you can't get in 6 days a week, you could go 3 times a week and do the Strength training first, followed by the Tabata and wrap it up with the Core work. You could do that Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Or, if you have to, just go every other day and when you get an extra free workout in, try the cardio once in a while.

If possible train first thing in the morning. I can't think of a better way to start the day. Good solid workout and a hearty breakfast.

If the morning is impossible, go at night.

The key is to go. Then go consistently. Train hard and smart. Seek little improvements each time whether it's in your form or your performance. See if you can get a little better every time you train and in a month or two, you will see some nice changes. Not only in the mirror but how you feel about yourself.

Let me know if you have any questions and if you try this, how it goes!

Thanks for reading!


Comments 10 comments

Liz 6 years ago

David, once again, awesome Hub....and just what I needed to read right now!!!!


David R Bradley profile image

David R Bradley 6 years ago from The Active Side of Infinity Author

Thanks for taking the time to read it. Let me know if you decide to give it a try!


Kathy Rimel profile image

Kathy Rimel 6 years ago

Great hub, sounds like I can do this in much less time than the usual workout. Just what I need.


David R Bradley profile image

David R Bradley 6 years ago from The Active Side of Infinity Author

Thanks Kathy, let me know if you have any questions and keep us posted on your results!


Shahrzad 6 years ago

I really like it ... and your explanation for why it gives the results it should makes sense, I like that.

I have always had a fear of working with heavy weights, even though I had a persona trainer for a while and she was really good. This is because my back and neck are very weak, Im kind of afraid it might POP or something :))

i think i need to have the confidence of knowing my posture and form is right if i want to try something like the Romanian Dead Lift.


David R Bradley profile image

David R Bradley 6 years ago from The Active Side of Infinity Author

Shahrzad, It's good to know your limits and also where you can get stronger. The best part of strength training is that it's adaptable to any level of strength. With Romanian Deadlifts, you can start with no weight at all until you're comfortable with the movement and your strength. When you're ready, try it with a couple of 5 pound dumbbells until that feels comfortable then slowly increase the weight. If you do POP or something, I know a great chiropractor who will put you back together!


Anamika S profile image

Anamika S 6 years ago from Mumbai - Maharashtra, India

Marvelous! You have covered everything.


David R Bradley profile image

David R Bradley 6 years ago from The Active Side of Infinity Author

Anamika, glad you liked it. Feel free to contact me down the road with any questions. You're welcome to visit my website http://www.thepuravidacompany.com/


www.thingswelovetohate.com 5 years ago

Why 2 sets by 5 instead of 3-4 sets by 6-8's?

I find it difficult (and dangerous) to lift 90% of my 1RM so I pick up lighter weights and do 3-4 sets. Then increase my reps to increase challenge, until I'm comfortable enough to increase weights and drop sets and reps back to 3x5.

Back to original question: "why only 2 sets?"


David R Bradley profile image

David R Bradley 5 years ago from The Active Side of Infinity Author

thingswelovetohate, thank you for your question and for reading the hub! By training heavy while keeping the reps and sets low (2 sets of 3-5 up to 5 times a week) you will develop lean and strong muscles without "bulking" up. Also you want to work up to as close to your 1RM max as possible. When you get to a place where you feel you're not safe, lower the weight and work back up.

Many ladies are concerned with lifting heavy because they don't want to look buff. Lean and tone is the target and heavy low volume training frequently will result in strong, tone muscle due to the near maximal amount of tension created by you verses the weight. If this sounds completely off and foreign to you, pick up a copy of Pavel Tsatsouline's book Power to the People. It'll change the way you look at weight training. Also if you enjoy high rep work, check out Kettlebell Training!

Let me know if that helped! Thanks again.

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