5 Fitness Goals and How To Achieve Them
Wanting to lose weight is almost cultural at this point; there are books written about it, diets dedicated to it, we've even invented new technologies. Websites, forums, and social groups exist to pander to our desire to lose weight. Nearly 1 in 7 Americans will go on a diet this year, and as a whole, they will spend $33 billion on weight loss products. But the number of people who are overweight only continues to grow.
A strategy that may help those looking to lose weight may be to frame their goal in a new light; the wording we use can affect us mentally both negatively and positively. Instead of thinking about your weight as a problem that needs to be fixed, reframe it as a goal to be healthier physically. Positive thinking solves the motivation problem as it's no longer a chore that needs to be done.
Since it can be difficult to assess your own body-fat level, we may turn to other tools that can make approximations. One tool is the Body Mass Index, or BMI, which is calculated based on your height and weight.
There have been some criticisms of BMI in the past few years due to it not taking the amount of muscle mass into consideration, but since BMI is based on the average person, if you have an average amount of muscle mass (ie. are not a powerlifter or bodybuilder) it should be accurate enough to give you a good idea of whether you may need to lose some fat. And a rough estimate is really all you need.
The rest comes down to how you feel physically; someone with a healthy BMI is not necessarily healthier than someone whose BMI says they are overweight. There is more to health than your weight on your body fat percentage, but those do contribute.
This is all to say that there isn't a straightforward guide or solution. There is no perfect weight that we should all strive for, and there's no one diet that works for everyone. But in general, we should all aim to achieve a weight where we feel healthy. And the key is to eat healthy, nutritious food.
Perhaps you've heard about the new exercise trend, weightlifting. It's not really a trend, as people have been lifting weights to get stronger (and bigger) for a few thousand years, but compared to the cardio-centric first decade of the 2000s (and even into the 2010s) weightlifting is for sure coming back into trend. And for good reason! If you're interested in looking good, building muscle plays a big part in that.
No matter how much fat you lose, you will still have fat on your body! There is a level of fat that your body needs to maintain itself, as it's a backup source of energy. If you want a toned look, or if you just want to decrease the appearance of fat, you need to build muscle. Larger muscles are needed to give your body certain shapes; you will never see your abs if you never work on growing them! With the bare minimum amount of muscle, you mostly just see the outline of your fat underneath your skin. But when you have bigger muscles, they show through your skin. The layer of fat is still there, but it mostly just smooths out the look of your muscles. If you look at people with big muscles and very low body fat, you can see their veins and the striations of their muscles peaking out.
To start weightlifting, you'll need a program. While it's possible to create your own fitness routine, I recommend following an established program focusing on strength, like the 5x5 Program. Following a program will ensure that all of your muscles are being trained equally, and will help you maximize "beginner gains". After 6-12 months of following a strength-based program that teaches you basic lifts and increases your overall strength, you can look most closely at your goals and change your program. It's important, however, to have that base level of strength as well as knowledge about proper form. I explain the 5x5 gym program over here.
Big butts are in, there's no denying it. If you weren't blessed with a naturally big bum (or even if you were) there are exercises you can do to create the appearance of a bigger bottom.
Disclaimer, all bodies are beautiful and if you have a smaller booty that's okay! Small bums are cute in their own right, and you don't have to change yourself for anyone (except yourself if you want to). That being said, there are some tips that can help you if you're looking to get thicc.
The biggest tip for someone who wants to achieve a thicker bottom is to lift weights. While you cannot change your fat distribution and move your tummy fat to your bum, you can make your glutes (that's the butt muscle) bigger! (It's also worthwhile to work on your quads and hamstrings (front and back muscles of your thighs), not only for the sake of balanced strength but also because the look of your legs affects how your bum looks.
Generally, you want to do between 8-12 repetitions, at a comfortable weight, of an exercise if your goal is hypertrophy (which is a fancy word for increasing muscle size). Movements such as hip thrusts, squats, and deadlifts all focus on the muscles in your legs and bum. There are even more exercises that target smaller groups of muscles. A combination of movements focusing on multiple muscles and more targeted exercises is one of the best ways to increase your muscle mass.
Improve Cardiovascular Endurance
Enough talk about weightlifting! As much as we may enjoy dissing cardio, it is a necessary evil. Having good cardiovascular endurance is important for your heart and lungs, which are pretty important! And it's easier to improve cardiovascular now, then when you're older and already experiencing problems.
Before you pull out your dusty treadmill from the basement, let me share an alternative to what is considered traditional "cardio". Let me introduce you to HIIT.
HIIT, or High-Intensity Interval Training, is a method of improving your cardiovascular endurance by making your heart pump, a lot! That's the high-intensity part.
In a HIIT Circuit, you do a series of exercises that get your heart rate up. You do these exercises at a high-intensity and make your cardiovascular system work. And then you take a break. That's the interval part. The higher your endurance, the more times you go through the series of exercises.
What most people think of when they hear "cardio" is actually steady-state cardio, such as running on a treadmill for an hour. Steady-state cardio raises your heart rate, but not as much as HIIT. So, no breaks. It takes a lot longer and it actually may not be as effective as HIIT.
What if you actually prefer running or cycling? You can still do HIIT! Instead of running or cycling at medium intensity for a prolonged period of time, alternate between high and low-intensity intervals. Steady state cardio has its benefits no doubt and including it in your exercise program will yield returns. A healthy mixture of both with more focus on the one you enjoy the most will be the most beneficial.
All these goals are great, but they can be overwhelming. Sometimes an easier approach is better for right now. If you're not able to commit to a set training program, that's okay! But this does not mean that you shouldn't do anything. It means you should do something. Anything!
Whether it's a few pushups and situps in the evening, a yoga sequence you found on Pinterest, or going for a bike ride, the most important thing you can do for yourself and your body is to move it. Preferably in a way that increases your heart rate, and ideally (almost) every day.