Strong Body Beautiful Guidelines
My goal in creating this program was to make the adjustment process as easy as possible in the beginning. I created the Strong Body Beautiful plan to be the blueprint of a healthy lifestyle.
How can you be expected to accomplish personal renewal, balanced nutrition, and regular exercise without a plan? You can't be. That is the best part about the 6 week Strong Body Beautiful program. I have done all the homework for you. It is easy to follow and balances the needs of your body and mind. Now you can be free to concentrate on other daily issues like finding extra time for yourself each day so you can exercise, learning to purchase and prepare healthier foods, and revitalizing your state of mind.
Before we get started let’s discuss essential program guidelines and answer any questions you might have. I can’t wait to help you learn, grow, and build confidence and strength through fitness.
Strong Body Beautiful Program Guidelines
- You must be cleared by your doctor or physical therapist before beginning this program. Whenever you are planning to engage in exercise or in any particular physical activity, especially if you have not engaged in either for a long time, you should consult with your physician before starting. The exercise segments and advice in this program have been designed for active women. This is not a wise choice if you are currently injured, pregnant, or just starting out. But only your doctor can determine whether your present fitness level allows you to get started. Check with him or her first and dont waste another day. Get started!
- By investing in this program and yourself, you are committed to listening to your body at all times. If an exercise or specific workout does not feel right for your body or your needs, stop immediately. Done properly, this program will help you build body awareness by mastering movement skills and learning to tune into how your body feels. You will gain an understanding of movement and learn how to move mindfully, with skill, intention, and expertise.
- In this program, you will not determine your success by the scale. We will talk more about this in the course content, but muscle weighs more than fat. Often, the scale provides an inaccurate reading of the changes occurring in your body. Bear in mind that those fat days that we all experience are not just figments of your imagination! The female body can fluctuate up and down by four or more pounds over the course of three weeks due to fluid retention and point in the menstrual cycle. Another reason we dont use the scale is because of the negative impact can have on your mental well-being and self-esteem. We all know how many of us can struggle with a dysfunctional relationship with the number between our feet. It’s time to stop all of that nonsense. A more accurate means of monitoring your success is with the measuring tape, photos, and how your clothes fit. Before you begin this program, measure yourself:
- Around the upper arm
- Chest (right across the bust line)
- Hips (around the fullest point)
- Thighs (about ¾ of the way to the hip socket)
Record your results in your journal using the measurement lecture and guide in this course, then put these figures away. I also encourage you to take before and after photos of your body: front, side, and back. On week six, we will remeasure the same areas of your body and take "after" photos. The results should surprise you! You will find, if you have been consistent with the schedule in this program, that your body is becoming lean, toned, and feeling strong. In fact, the average woman loses 8 inches for all areas of the body through the SBB program combined with a healthy diet. As you burn fat and build muscle, your body will actually decrease in size and change shape. The neatest thing is that you will feel it happening. The first week of the program you will put on an outfit and it may feel a little snug. By week six, I’ll bet there are places in that clothing that seem baggy! Your clothes will fit better and you will feel better. Measurements are a valuable way to track progress.
4. This program does not include a specific nutritional plan. I will be providing information, resources, and tools for you to use to learn how to listen to what your body needs and eat well. It is up to you to make healthy choices and nourish yourself with quality foods. I trust that you will be fueling your body with foods that help you FEEL good and give you the power, strength, and energy to tackle this program (and everything in your life!). You will see incredible results if you combine the SBB program with a clean, healthy, diet that provides you with all of the nutrients you need to succeed. Should you want a tool, you can use the livestrong my daily plate to track your nutrition throughout the 6 weeks. This can help raise awareness to the quality of your diet and help you make more mindful food choices. Again, I will be sharing helpful nutrition resources within the content of this course to further help you in choosing how to eat to feel your very best inside and out. The SBB community and facebook group is another excellent resource to share recipes, tips, tools, and nutrition information. Together we are healthier, stronger, and better! Use the community to share your journey and get the accountability you need to eat healthy and feel healthy.
5. This program includes compound strength movements like the deadlift, back squat, and kettlebell swing. All exercises in this program require focus, form, skill, and body awareness. ALWAYS put form first. If a weight feels too challenging downsize. If you aren’t sure about your form, ask. Do NOT lift heavy objects without focus, form, and awareness. I want to help you get stronger, not injured. You have to agree to bring your A game and move well.
6. Upon registering for the Strong Body Beautiful program, request access to the private Strong Body Beautiful facebook group so that you can take what you learn within this course and connect to a community of likeminded women who share in your goals to live a healthy, balanced, lifestyle.
There are three main components of the Strong Body Beautiful program:
- Strength/resistance training: to build lean muscle mass, boost metabolism, build bone health, prevent injuries, aid in muscular balance, boost performance, and build confidence
- Cardiovascular training: to burn fat, condition the heart and lungs, boost circulation, and improve mood
- Flexibility/self-massage training: to ease muscle tension, improve range of motion, decrease stress, and keep muscles happy
Each component is equally important when it comes to achieving a fit and powerful body. I will give you specific instructions and guidelines for each to help you customize this program for strong body results.
Here are a few questions and answers to help you get started on the road toward strength success in the Strong Body Beautiful program:
Do I need equipment or gym access in order to start this strength training program?
Yes. For the SBB program you will need the following strength training equipment:
Equipment needed for the SBB program:
- Exercise mat
- Loop Resistance Band the different colors signal different resistance. Choose a resistance that feels challenging yet still allows you to maintain proper form.
- Step bench or box
- Set of Kettlebells ( I prefer to use cast iron Kettlebells)
- Squat Rack
- Squat bar support pad (optional)
- Olympic weight plates
- Foam roller
One of the main purposes of the SBB program is to teach you how to strength train and build confidence in the weight room. To accomplish this goal, you will need equipment. You will begin some of the strength-training workouts with body-weight exercises: push-ups, squats, lunges, bridges, planks, and more that do not require equipment. But to advance your bodyweight strength moves and continue to progress to see positive results, we need to add more resistance. Whether you purchase weights to use at home, register for a drop in gym pass, or join a gym, having access to weight-training equipment will allow you to have the ability to complete all of the workouts in this program and progress with your strength training.
When should I start?
This course is self-paced. You can start anytime and take it at your own speed. Need to take things slower? Take one week schedule and spread it out over three weeks! You can customize the course to fit your needs and timeline.
What if I miss a day, workout, or week?
Life happens! I don’t expect you to stick to the program perfectly, 100% all of the time. You are a busy, awesome, woman with a full schedule! Each week we will be planning your workouts in advance, into your calendar, in a way that works for you. There will most likely be weeks where you’ll need to make adjustments based off of your personal schedule. Do the best you can with the suggested weekly workouts and make modifications when needed. If you miss a day, pick right back up where you left off. The goal of the SBB program is not to be perfect but to make progress. It’s also to teach you how to build a consistent exercise program that allows you to see results.
Can I repeat the program?
Yes and I highly recommend it! Once the 6 weeks are up, I suggest going through the program a second (or even third!) time. This allows you to continue to advance your skills, build on what you know, gain more strength, and become masterful in the weight room. Plus, you will most likely want to repeat the strength workouts because they are fun, challenging, and rewarding!
There is so much information!! I'm a busy woman! What if I can't read through it all?
I designed the Strong Body Beautiful program to be a comprehensive guide with everything you need to accomplish your health and fitness goals. I don’t expect you to be able to digest and understand it all in only 6 weeks. I want you to have the resources you need to refer back to as you continue to grow, evolve, and progress within your wellness. These topics are common within all of my coaching clients and I want to support you in having the information you need to succeed. You invested in the program and now you have it as a resource for the rest of your life. Take your time with the information and come back to it whenever you need for guidance or motivation. This is one of the best parts of the Strong Body Beautiful program, it's always there for you to return to when you need to re-fresh your fitness routine, kickstart your health habits, or get a little extra lifestyle support.
What happens after the 6 weeks?
We celebrate! After the 6 weeks are over you’ll have completed 12 different strength workouts and 6 consistent weeks of fitness. You will have learned new movements and experienced different exercises. You will have gone out of your comfort zone (mentally and physically) in the gym. You will have a new toolbox of ideas, workouts, exercises, and resources you can use to challenge your body and see results. You will feel energized, confident, and stronger in your body and mind. By completing the 6 week program you will have committed to a goal, taken action, and followed through. You will feel proud of yourself for this accomplishment, for making time for yourself, and for making yourself stronger (inside and out).
How often will I strength train?
In this program I recommend you strength train, for a minimum, twice a week. This number has been shown to provide many of the health benefits of resistance training. Each week you’ll be receiving two downloadable strength workouts and fitness schedule. For the purpose of this 6 week program, I suggest following the proposed workout schedule as closely as possible.
Can I strength train the same days I do my cardio?
Yes, You can strength train on the same days you do your aerobic training if your week is too busy for separate workouts.
What if I can’t do all of the exercises?
Feel free to modify workouts as needed to work with your body and feel your best. I’ll provide exercise cues and demonstrations so that you have alternatives. Remember: some of the new exercises will feel hard - they are NEW to your body and meant to challenge you in a different way. The goal should be to work up to mastering each exercise in skill and strength (thats how you make progress!). Don’t sweat it if you aren’t “strong enough” yet for all the suggested sets and reps in each workout. You’ll get stronger and work your way up to it as you continue to progress.
How much weight should I use?
Choose the heaviest weight that allows you to complete all the set repetitions in each exercise with good form. In other words, the lower the number of repetitions, the heavier the weight you should use and vice versa. Just make sure the weight allows you to perform the exercise properly—lifting less weight with good form is better than lifting more weight sloppily. If you are doing body-weight exercises (using your body weight as resistance), the same principal applies: perform as many reps as you can in each set with good form.
How do you figure out the right amount to lift?
The answer is trial and error. You have to make an educated guess and experiment. The key is to start lifting. If you choose a weight that’s too light or too heavy, adjust it in your next set. The goal is to complete all the repetitions in each set with good form while challenging your muscles to work as hard as they can. Using the “start to struggle” approach will help you do this: work hard; when you start to struggle, you’ve completed the set. This is also a good strategy to use for body-weight exercises such as push-ups, pull-ups, and hip raises.
How many repetitions should I do?
How many reps you choose to do depends on the specific exercise and your training goals. I’ll be giving you suggested repetitions for each exercise. In the beginning, if you can only do 5 repetitions with good form, then 5 is fine. Gradually begin to increase the number as the exercise gets easier. If you can accomplish 20 or more, it’s time to add more weight. What is most important is that you listen to your body. Do what you can with where you are and then build from there. Most important to remember is that this is your program.
How many sets of an exercise should I do?
I’ll give you suggested sets of each exercise. As you develop your strength, you can play around with changing the variety of sets and reps. That’s the fun part!
How do I learn proper form?
I’m going to teach you! This program is designed to help you learn proper form and movement mechanics for each strength exercise. I will give you the guidance you need to learn to listen to your body, move mindfully, and see results. Working with with this program to establish a foundation of strength-training knowledge and good form will allow you to get started safely and effectively. As always, if you have any medical conditions, injuries, or illnesses, be sure to check with your doctor before you start lifting weights.
Is there cardio?
In this program, I will also suggest days for cardiovascular training. Cardiovascular exercise keeps your heart, lungs, and blood vessels healthy while boosting your metabolism and giving you a good sweat. It’s also great for stress relief. Here are a few cardiovascular training guidelines so that you can customize each week to fit your personal needs, preferences and goals.
What kind of cardio should I do?
The best part about aerobic cardio is that there are so many ways to do it. Walking, running, hiking, swimming, biking, aerobics class, dancing, jumping rope—the list goes on. The SBB program lets you personalize your approach to getting your weekly dose of aerobic exercise in a way that you enjoy. I hate when I hear people say that they are running to get a workout but hate running. That’s crazy. If you hate running, don’t run! There are so many options to try when it comes to getting your cardio that there is no reason to torture yourself with something you don't like. Anything you don’t enjoy will result in mediocre efforts and mediocre results. Find forms of cardio workouts that you enjoy, and you won’t feel like you’re working. Make it fun and you’ll stick with it in the long run.
Here’s a list of great cardio activities to help you figure out what you like to do: running, walking, swimming, water aerobics, aerobics, step aerobics, jump rope, boxing, rowing, cycling, indoor cycling, treadmill intervals, dancing, elliptical machine, stair climbing, hiking, rowing, tennis, basketball, and soccer.
Whatever you choose, make it convenient and fun for yourself. If getting your cardio is convenient and enjoyable, you’ll stick with it. For example, I love being outside, so running has become one of my favorite ways to get in my cardio. I am also a huge believer in having exercise equipment at home and using workout videos or YouTube channels. It’s easy to make time to workout at home: your home is always open, and the weather never prevents you from being active. Choose an aerobic activity you know you can stick to. If walking or running is convenient for you, start there. Or sign up for a twice weekly spin class and join a community with accountability and support. Or work out at home with a dance aerobics video or an online yoga studio. There are so many options. Think about what you like to do and make it work for you.
How hard are the workouts?
Varying the intensity of your workouts will allow you to be more consistent and avoid injury. Think about it: if you do too many high-intensity workouts, you’ll burn out fast. If you do too many low-intensity workouts you’ll plateau and won’t see continued results. In the SBB program, we will vary the intensity of your weekly workouts from low, to medium, to high.
- Low-intensity cardio training—for example, walking, hiking, and slow cycling—can be done practically every single day (even several times a day) for longer amounts of time than high intensity training. This type of training is very easy for your body to recover from, regardless of your body type and your goals. It can help you burn calories for fat loss and help you build lifestyle fitness.
- Moderate-intensity cardio training—for example, jogging, swimming, stair climbing, cross-country skiing, cycling, ice skating, aerobics, step aerobics, and dancing—will need to be done a little less frequently. This type of training requires more energy both to perform and for your body to recover.
- High-intensity training—for example, activities like sprinting, circuit workouts, and interval training—is the toughest of the three but can actually bring you the fastest results. High-intensity training is extremely effective for fat loss as it not only causes you to burn a lot of calories during the activity, but it also raises your metabolism for a long time after the activity is done. This type of hard training should be done less frequently than the more moderate forms of cardio as it is much harder for your body to recover.
We will be alternating high-impact or high intensity days with low impact and low intensity days to allow you to continue consistent workouts without getting injured, bored, or hitting a plateau.
Your body and mind love when you mix it up. This will keep your body guessing, and the results will keep happening. As you work through this program I’ll help you vary your workouts throughout the week. We will change your routine often, changing the intensity, type, or time. This will help you prevent boredom, stay motivated, and continue to see results from your training.
What about stretching? And what the heck is a foam roller?
The SBB program also includes flexibility, mobility, and self massage. Regular self-massage and flexibility training will help you untangle knots of tension and give you the tools to eliminate pain or move past stress-related injuries. It also will help keep your joints mobile so that your body lasts longer and is pain free for decades. It will help you reset and recharge your body to achieve your optimal state of well-being and performance.
If you sit most of the day and are under a lot of stress, your body is tight and hungry for some relief. Self-massage and flexibility training provide the best way to tame that tension. Your goal is a minimum of 5 to 10 minutes of flexibility or self-massage exercises daily. You can choose to do them at the end of a workout, throughout your day, or even before bed. What matters most is that you make time to do it. A few minutes goes a long way and will help reduce muscle soreness, limber your joints, improve range of motion, release tension, and beat stress-related injuries. I’m going to teach you how easy it is to fit in simple stretches and self-massage throughout your day. Soon it will be a healthy habit, like brushing your teeth. You’ll feel so much better from just a few minutes of moving and deep breathing.
In this program, I’ll be giving you suggested self massage training videos as well as specific guidelines on what muscles to foam roll after each workout.
Not all gyms provide foam rollers, and it will be worth your while to purchase your own tools for home use. Most foam rolling devices cost between $10 and $40 and are much more affordable than hiring your own massage therapist. Having self-massage tools at home will make it easy to fit in 5 to 10 minutes of daily self-massage. You might find that it becomes a habit you look forward to every day because it feels so good. When it comes to what foam rolling tools to purchase, you have several different options. Here are my favorites:
- High-density foam roller: A compact, high-density roller is designed to maintain its shape. It is the most common tool you will find at gyms and fitness centers.
- Yoga Tune Up balls: The Yoga Tune Up therapy balls measure about 2½ inches in diameter each and are made of a special rubber that grips skin, grabs at multiple layers of muscles, and rubs out adhesions and tension, providing a deep tissue massage. These are great for traveling and taking to work for self-massage as they pack well in a suitcase or purse.
- Golf ball: Perfect for getting all the tiny spots in your feet, a golf ball can aid in healing plantar fasciitis and other not-so-fun foot problems.
- Rolling pin: I use a standard kitchen rolling pin as an inexpensive on-the-go massage tool. It’s easy to travel with and can be useful in working out the kinks in my calves, quads, and iliotibial (IT) band.
Disclaimer: Always check with your doctor before using a foam roller for myofascial release. Also, foam rolling a tight muscle may cause discomfort, which usually means the area needs attention. Perform foam roller sessions when your muscles are warm or after a workout. Each time you use your foam roller makes the next time a little bit easier. Just don’t forget to breathe.
Foam Rolling Guidelines:
- You can choose to foam roll before a workout to loosen up, after a workout to cool down, or any time of day to release tension from the body.
- Position the roller under the soft tissue area you want to release or loosen.
- Place your body part on the roller and apply pressure. Stay in place or gently roll your body weight back and forth across the roller while targeting the affected muscle.
- Move slowly, and take deep breaths.
- If you find a particularly painful area (trigger point), hold that position until the area softens.
- Focus on areas that are tight or have reduced range of motion.
- Roll over each area a few times until you feel it relax. Expect some discomfort. It may feel very tender at first.
- Stay on soft tissue and avoid rolling directly over bones or joints.
- Keep your first few foam roller sessions short. Aim to foam roll an area for a minimum of 2 minutes to create change in the tissues.
- Rest a day between sessions when you start.
I carry my Yoga Tune Up balls with me everywhere I go. I use them in the car on my lower back while driving or fit in a neck massage in the office between meetings. Having the them on hand makes it easy to fit a quick massage into small windows of time throughout the day.
I believe 5 to 10 minutes of flexibility and self-massage training every day insure against the likelihood of injury and the aches and pains that result from stored tension in the muscles. If this sounds impossible, try to stretch for at least 2 minutes at the end of your workouts. You can also squeeze in a few quick stretches in line at the grocery store, before bed, or even while brushing your teeth. Opportunities to stretch, breathe, roll, release, and de-stress exist everywhere if you look for them.
How can I see results quicker?
Be patient!! If for some reason your results seem disappointing, do not despair! The program will work! Perhaps you have had some trouble adjusting to the program . That is ok, just stick with it. It will get easier every day. You might also try taking a hard look at the intensity of your workouts. Were you challenging yourself enough? Also, were you eating proper portion sizes of the meals you have prepared? Have you been keeping up with a clean diet (and being mindful of things like alcohol and excess sugar?). How is your stress, sleep, and hormone balance? Remember: all of these elements come into play when you want to make a change to your body. Continued effort, patience, persistence, and sticking with healthy lifestyle habits is the key to seeing changes over time.