By Lisa Marie Conklin, Reader’s Digest
Short on time but want to tone up all those trouble spots? We asked Danielle Natoni, a personal trainer and founder of Fit and Funky to create a strength training workout that works your entire body. Bonus—no equipment is necessary!
When you build lean muscle mass (like doing this workout), you burn more calories—it’s that easy. In fact, the benefits of strength training are pretty impressive. How does it work? Muscle is metabolically active. “The more lean muscle mass you have the more calories you burn. Lean muscle requires more calories than fat does, so your metabolism revs up to help you burn those additional calories,” says Danielle Natoni, AFAA personal trainer and CEO and founder of Fit and Funky. “In addition, adding lean muscle through resistance training will strengthen your bones and improve your overall physical performance—not just in workouts, but everyday life activities,” says Natoni. Research also shows resistance training helps keep anxiety in check. Another study suggests strength training can improve insulin sensitivity, glucose tolerance, metabolic health, and even reducing risk factors for people with diabetes. There’s even evidence that long-term resistance training can prevent inflammatory chronic diseases. Here are 14 things that happen when you start a new strength-training workout.
No equipment needed!
Women often skip strength training because they’re worried about bulking up or looking too muscular. Getting body-builder definition requires a special genetic mix that few people have—not to mention an otherworldly devotion to lifting and careful dieting.
If you have access to dumbbells, great. If not, don’t worry—you can accomplish all you need using your own body weight. “Your own body weight serves as an amazing way to do resistance training, especially when you are short on time or don’t have access to weights,” says Natoni. Using machines at the gym keeps you in a stationary position and usually targets just a couple of areas, she warns. That’s effective, but when you use your own body for resistance, you target numerous muscle groups at the same time. For instance, a plank builds muscles along the spine, in your rear, and challenges your core—the abdomen, chest, and upper legs! Relying on your body to build muscles improves your flexibility and balance as well, explains Natoni.
Natoni’s 15-minute workout targets all areas of the body. “Do each move for one minute,” she says. “At the end of the circuit, take a one-minute break and then repeat the circuit one more time for a total of 15 minutes. Focus on form over speed to really fatigue the muscles and get in a good burn.”
Squat to lunge
Start with your feet about hip distance apart and lower into a squat, weight on your heels and your back flat; clasp your hands in front of your chest for balance. From the bottom of the squat, jump up while bringing your right leg forward and left leg back into a lunge. Be sure to land softly. In the lunge, make sure your knees are creating two 90 degree angles, and that the ears, shoulders, and hips are stacked on top of each other. From the bottom of the lunge, explode back up and land into the squat. Repeat with the right leg coming forward for the entire minute. Minute two of the workout you’ll switch to your left leg coming forward into the lunge. For a less-demanding version, simply step the leg back into the lunge instead of jumping. Also, you can reduce your range of motion by not going as deep into the squat or the lunge. This is how many squats it takes to see results.
Bow and Arrow
Lie face down on the ground and extend your legs back and up off the ground by squeezing through your glutes. Keep your head aligned with your spine as you extend your arms out in front of you and bring your hands together. Lift your chest off the ground by engaging the muscles in your lower back. Now, draw your arms toward the right side of your body, drawing your right elbow towards your ribs. Return to the starting position. Repeat on the right side for one full minute, then do a minute on the left side. To modify this movement, only lift the upper body and drive your toes into the ground to give the lower back support.