Get Strong

I have two words for you- strength training. One common fitness myth is that lifting weights and strength training will bulk you up. In particular, this myth is strongly believed by most women. I want you to throw this myth out, today! I'm here to tell you about a secret weapon to put into your body to burn more calories, and that is muscle! Muscle is beautiful. It is like the fountain of youth, allowing our bodies to naturally generate a human growth hormone. Muscle helps us move and gives us shape.

When working out in the gym with hand weights, it is a good idea to choose a weight that you will fail. Meaning, after 8-15 reps, you can't do it anymore. Women can't bulk up because they don't have the muscle building hormone (testosterone) at the level that men do. If you look at average testosterone levels in men and women- men have 16 times the amount of testosterone that women do (men have about 700 and women have about 42).

A study conducted at Penn State involved dividing a group of people into three groups- no exercise, aerobic exercise only, and aerobic exercise with weight training. All the participants lost about 21 pounds, but the people that did weight training shed 6 more pounds of fat than those who didn't pump iron. Those that lifted lost almost pure fat while the others lost fat and muscle. The bottom line? Strength training is the most effective way to lose fat. Plus, after strength training, your body will continue to take in additional oxygen the rest of the day, which is known as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption. When your body uses more oxygen, it promotes more expenditure of calories and will increase your metabolic rate.

Here are three more reasons to add more strength training to your routines.

1. It will improve the quality of your sleep. International SportMed Journal suggested that morning resistance training positively affects your ability to fall asleep faster, sleep deeper, and longer!

2. You will have an increase of energy. So when the afternoon slump hits and you're tempted to grab some caffeine, grab a barbell instead!

3. It will decrease your risk of osteoporosis as well as heart disease.

As I have incorporated strength training into my fitness routine, I have definitely felt more confident. We all want to feel stronger, healthier, and leaner, so what are you waiting for? A new kind of strong begins today.

I encourage you to take 5 minutes, right now, and try these strength building moves using your own body weight!

Start in a raised side plank, stretching your top arm as high as it will go. Keep feet one on top of another or notice the modification with keeping one leg bent. Align your body into one diagonal line from heels to crown of head.

Take that top arm and bring it under the chest, keeping the core engaged and bottom arm strong. Do this 10 times each side.

Get back into side plank, straighten the arm by firming the tricep muscle and press the base of the index finger firmly on the floor.

Tap your foot in front of your body twice...

...and behind your body twice. Repeat 7 times with controlled movement. Then repeat on the other side.

And for a bonus, I always incorporate the core muscles! When these muscles feel strong, you will always feel better.

Tighten your core with this bicycle move. Laying flat on the ground, with hands supporting your head, bring your elbow to the opposite knee and hold for an exhale breath, then switch and bring your other elbow to the opposite knee. 

Lay on your back with legs and arms stretching out from your body. Push in your belly button to the ground and use your core to bring your knees into the chest. Do this 7 times.

Finish with the upward-facing dog post. Inhale and press hands firmly into the floor and keep your knees off the floor.

References: 1 | 2 | 3

Photos for Foundation c/o Lori Romney Photography

Ashley Wright has a passion for health and fitness. She is a Team Beachbody (C) Coach, PiYo instructor, and has helped women of all ages gain the tools needed to live a healthy lifestyle. She believes that a healthy lifestyle will instill confidence as well as provide a solid foundation for you to accomplish your goals. As a former Utah's Distinguished Young Women of Utah, she knows the importance of incorporating health and fitness to be a well rounded woman to better serve those around you. Get Moving - Eat Healthy - Love Yourself. Visit Ashley's Facebook Page to learn more.