The days of wearing the leotard’s, sweating out from an aerobic class and hearing women say ‘oh no I would never lift weights as I will bulk’, thankfully is exiting its way out of the door. Well, all right you might have the few that are still doing the same lifting movements and still on the same weight as when they joined the gym, not surprisingly still looking the same day in day out and worst of all, all year round.

These group of women are physiologically programme to think that doing the same movements and exercise will make up for the night before of un-nutritional choice of foods consumed and a trip to the gym with the same routine will be their fix.

The answer is no, although it’s great that you have made the effort to turn up to the gym and jump and twist in your Zumba class, to the point lifting the same reps as you did the following day in a pump class, the question you will all ways be asking yourself is this, why am I still looking the same?


The answer is staring you right in the face; you have to look at your nutrition and to start strength training this does not mean cutting out carbs and eating endless amount of protein in the form of protein shakes and large amounts of poultry, that’s your first quest to look at, here are some pointers:


Never skip this meal and make sure this portion is fairly filling. Stay away from fry ups instead opt for grilled English or perhaps oats with a variety of fresh fruits.

Refuel 2 hours: Try a smoothie- (getting your 5 a day) handful of raw nuts, or perhaps an omelette with your choice of fillings.

Refuel 1-2 hours: Grilled salmon, asparagus, broccoli and carrots with some sweet potatoes grilled or rice.

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Refuel 1-2 hours: Tuna/Chicken or roasted vegetable salad, low fat dressing.

Refuel 1-2 hours: A light soup (homemade) is the best and you know what you are placing in them.

The above mentioned are merely some suggestions and keeping this pattern of eating intervals speeds your metabolism and controls the portions you eat not making you hungry in the evening when you are most likely to be less active, but if you are a night shift person reverse it to your body’s clock.

Secondly try picking up a weight slightly heavier to what you are usually used to give that particular area you are working on more of a workout, note you might experience some shaking going on.

This does not mean that, that particular body part you are working on is ready to fall off, quiet the opposite, this is a sign that in that particular area you are working, the muscles have not been pushed, therefore have become lazy, therefore used to pushing a certain weight.

Do not be miss guided thinking that this article is telling you not to do any cardio, quiet the contrary as your heart needs a workout to keep it ticking at its best.

I would advise your workout not only being cardio but to mix it up with strength training as too much cardio and little to no strength training can bring on brittle bones as well as osteoporosis if continued for a long period, lets face it no muscle mass no toned body instead the saggy look breathes and will continue to under your clothing.

Technique applies into strength training ensuring you are hitting the intending muscle groups you have chosen to work, as well as a good warm-up and stretch lowering your risk of injuries.

The best exercises to use are big, compound movements that recruit a lot of muscle mass. Here are some examples:

Barbell squat (also known as squats):

Lower body

Place a bar on your shoulders with desired weight (make sure the weight is a little heavier but do-able). Grip hands to hold bar (underhand grip) and hold firmly.

Place the feet hip-width/facing always making sure that the knees are slightly bent, from when squatting to coming up at the starting position of a squat, this way less pressure is placed on the knee when coming up from squatting lessening the risk of injuring your knees.

Note: imagine that behind your butt there is a low chair and you are trying to sit on it, that way you teach yourself a better technique of using the glutes the intended muscle you are working when squatting, also is a great way of teaching yourself not to pull your lower back as most would do due to lowering the lower back rather than the glutes.

Dumbbell bench press

Upper body horiznotal pushing

Grab a pair of dumbbells and lie on your back on a flat bench, holding the dumbbells over your chest so that they’re nearly touching.

Your palms should be facing out, but turned slightly inward.

Before you begin, pull your shoulder blades down and together, and hold them as tight as you can throughout the entire exercise. Keeping your shoulder blades tight stabilizes your shoulder joints; reducing your risk of injury and helping you lift heavier weights.

Lift the dumbbells up-wards then slowly back down to the starting position and repeat.

Dumbbell shoulder press

Upper body vertical pressing

While holding a dumbbell in each hand, sit on a military press bench or utility bench that has back support. Place the dumbbells upright on top of your thighs. Now raise the dumbbells to shoulder height one at a time using your thighs to help propel them up into position. Make sure to rotate your wrists so that the palms of your hands are facing forward.

This is your starting position. Now, exhale and push the dumbbells upward until they touch at the top. Then, after a brief pause at the top contracted position, slowly lower the weights back down to the starting position while inhaling.

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Variations: You can perform the exercise standing or sitting on a regular flat bench. For people with lower back problems, the version described is the recommended one.

Core exercises

Get into pushup position on the floor.

Now bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your weight on your forearms. Your elbows should be directly beneath your shoulders, and your body should form a straight line from your head to your feet. Hold the position for as long as you can. Your goal should be to hold it for two minutes, though start off with holding for 1min until that gets easy then increase the time.

A great way of combining compound muscle training (using the larger muscle groups) is by introducing a form of callanetics as shown from my last article for WatchFit were by following this link: Watchfit Workout  and look for the footage for the (single leg alternative gluts raises and single leg gluts circle raises), these 2 exercises compliment the lower body when using compound (larger muscle) workouts.

For the upper body another simple movement:

By standing hip width apart toes facing forward, take the arms up by your side and lift them approximately shoulder height, with your hands circulate them back/forth especially concentrating on the movement coming from the wrist, try a 100 and you will feel this burn in your entire arms and shoulders.

For the record folks this movements was featured in a Tracey Anderson video, this is actually an old school classic exercise from the callanetic range of exercises designed to isolate muscle groups and using tiny, precise (yet powerful) movement, results if the method is applied properly a toned yet chiseled physique.

Now that you know you won’t bulk for the novices out there and in fact the opposite and the killer ingredient when applied with healthy nutrition to achieving that toned body, what really is stopping you?

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Pollyanna Hale Health and Lifestyle coaches
Lost 13 Kg in Total
Mel, 32y Location: London, United Kingdom Working with Pollyanna changed everything. I lost 13kg, got toned and have more energy than ever! Get same results!


Chriz Zaremba Fitness Consultant
Lost 45 Kg in Total
Chris, 50y Location: London, United Kingdom Lost 45kg after the age of 50 and now competes and wins physique competitions and runs marathons Check our weight loss plans