6-Week Slim-Down: More muscle, less fat

My 6-Week Slim-Down goal:
Working up the motivation to go for a workout is never a problem. But building up the enthusiasm to properly strength train is sometimes a challenge. I love my cardio, but I tend to short-change my time with the weights. I know to get the most of my time at the gym I need to do both – after all, the muscle I build with the weights boosts my metabolism and helps me burn more calories even when I’m not working out.

Photography: George Stepanek

Challenges:
1. Time.
I can only spend so much of it at the gym before I need to get home to tend to the evening’s chores. If a cardio machine is free, my instinct is to grab it. Often I end up rushing the weight-training half of the equation, either short-changing myself on the amount of time I spend doing it or just doing the same old exercises.

2. Mental fatigue.
At the end of a busy workday, sometimes I just want to do some mindless cardio, not focus on proper technique with a set of dumbbells.

3. Insecurity.

There’s something both intimidating and comical about working out amid a group of guys who lift more weight with one hand than I could possible pick up with two.

Successes:
1. Stepping up what I already know.
A couple of years ago I worked with a personal trainer to get stronger. (I’m proof that lifting weights will not make you bulky – less pipsqueak-y, yes; bulky, no.) I’ve taken the lessons I learned and kicked them up a notch. For example, instead of doing bicep curls on the floor, now I stand on a BOSU ball when doing them and challenge my core as well.

2. Taking two fitness classes a month.
Being a glutton for punishment, boot camp is usually my class of choice. I get my cardio kick, but I get the strength training and toning activities, too – and the instructor corrects any bad form. Plus, I learn new ways of working my muscle groups for when I work out on my own.

3. Checking out online videos.

The first place I clicked? The Canadian Living Health and Fitness Video Collection.

4. Collecting printouts of exercises I want to try.

I need variety to challenge my muscles and avoid plateauing, so I collect new ways to work my triceps, shoulders, quads, etc. I can work through the motion of a new exercise in the privacy of my home before using the weights at the gym.

5. Dedicating two workout sessions a week to only strength training.

I’m playing ball hockey – lots of running! – two nights a week, so on gym days, after a few minutes on a cardio machine to get my heart rate up, it’s time to pump iron.

What’s your biggest fitness challenge?

 

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