The good news is, your bodyweight and a set of dumbbells right at home will work just as well as all of the fancy stuff at the gym. I recommend the SoftBell, which uses fabric plates filled with sand that won’t damage your floor (or toes) if you drop them. Start with a set of 10-, 12-, and 15-pound dumbbells, and toggle between sizes to challenge each major muscle group. Your lower body will likely be stronger and require larger dumbbells (15 pounds), while a lighter set (10 pounds) will better suit your upper body. (You can even use weights to intensify your ab workouts—try these 4 moves.)
Here’s The Plan:
- The strength-training program outlined below takes about 30 minutes. Do 12 repetitions of each of the following exercises, then rest for 30 seconds and gently stretch or massage the muscles you worked. Repeat for a total of three sets. (Only have 18 minutes? You can still torch fat, get fit, and look and feel great with Women’s Health’s All in 18 DVD!)
- Perform this routine three non-consecutive days per week (in conjunction with a healthy diet), and you’ll see measurable changes in eight weeks. When the dumbbells start feeling easy, raise the weight you’re using. Remember that lifting a challenging load won’t bulk you up like a linebacker, and lifting dumbbells that are too light won’t produce change in the muscles.
- Strength training creates tiny microscopic tears in the muscle fibers that allow them to grow back stronger—that’s why you feel muscle soreness post-workout. The process of healing those tears takes 24-48 hours, so avoid doing this program on consecutive days. Allow 1-2 days between, and do cardio or stretching workouts (like this one) while your muscles heal. If you rarely or never experience this soreness, increase the weights you are lifting.