By: Jae Curtis, Lifestyle Expert
Hey, we all love a good, sweaty cardio sesh on the elliptical or in a dance class, but cardio alone won’t build you the body you want. While cardio can help burn fat, it’s weight lifting that helps build muscle and give you the shape you crave. Don’t be intimidated: weight lifting isn’t just for bodybuilders anymore. By adding a few simple moves to the end of your workout, you can build muscle, burn more fat, and start to see real results.
The Dead Lift
The dead lift is among the most effective exercises because it activates almost all of your major muscle groups at the same time, from your glutes to your core and shoulders. Grab a barbell (a couple of weights or a kettlebell work too) and stand with your feet shoulder width apart. With your back completely straight, lower the bar as close to your legs as possible before bringing the bar back up to your hips. At first, you might only be able to bring the bar down to the tops of your thighs, but with practice you’ll be able to lower even farther for a better workout. Complete three sets of 10 to 12 reps.
The Planked Row
The plank is practically a gold standard for ab and full-body workouts. In a plank position, you’re contracting most of the muscles in your body. Add a row to the mix, and you’ll be building major muscle in your abs and shoulders. Grab a dumbbell and place it in front of you. Get into plank position with your head, hips, and legs in one level line. Then reach for the dumbbell with one hand, rowing it up to your ribcage and replacing it before repeating on your other side. Make sure to do 10 to 12 reps on each side.
The Hammer Curl
Looking for tank top-worthy shoulders and biceps? The hammer curl is an effective arm exercise that activates the entire arm as well as your core. Grab a dumbbell in each hand and stand with feet shoulder width apart. Contract your core as you bring one dumbbell from your hip to your shoulder with your thumb facing the ceiling (imagine holding a hammer). Repeat with the other hand and continue alternating until you’ve done 10 to 12 reps on each side.
The Perfect Squat
Squats are a staple of any lower body workout, but they’re also one of the exercises that are often done incorrectly. Without proper form, a squat isn’t as effective, and it could even cause injury. Perfect your form in front of a mirror before adding any weight. Start with your feet shoulder width apart. Initiating the movement from your hips, press down through your heels as you bend at the knees. Your knees shouldn’t extend past your toes. Focus on getting your thighs lateral to the ground and imagine sitting back in a chair for the perfect movement. Press down through your heels to come back to starting position and continue to 10 to 12 reps. Add weights only once you’re sure you’ve perfected your form or you could hurt your back.
Adding a few muscle-building moves to your workout can help you build muscle faster than cardio alone. Using weights burns fat fast and helps shape your body. By focusing on form and challenging yourself, you might find that weights are exactly what your workout has been missing.