Disclaimer: I am 100% not an expert or the most qualified person to be giving advice, most of what I do is a compilation of many Instagram guru and You-tubers routines, and has changed a lot over the past two years. This is what works for me and it might not be the best plan for you.
Let’s take it way back before we get into the nitty-gritty. At the ripe age of three, I began dancing, with high-quality Dalmatian costumes and a lot of ribbon wand action. I continued dancing all the way until I graduated high school, from ballet to modern to jazz to lyrical. Any dancer who is familiar with a jeté knows that form, posture, and alignment are drilled into our tutu-clad bodies.
My senior year of high school I evaded laps around the track by waiving gym credit with Body Pump classes at an athletic club. I was usually the only person in that sweaty studio below the age of 40 and a lot of the moms that squatted next to me had enviable asses. The instructors had perfect technique and coached the class on improving their lightweight lunges and tricep dips.
For the first time, I realized I wanted to be able to lift more weight and become muscular. The many years I spent dancing along with those classes gave me a solid foundation to begin lifting weights. I was familiarized with form, basic movements and muscle groups that would be targeted. These things in conjunction with countless hours spent watching Youtube workouts made me feel more confident working out. Most days you can find me sweating alongside the gym rats of Ernie Davis.
Monday - Pull Day
I start my week off with one of my favorite muscle groups to train, back and biceps. Ladies, do not neglect your back. Building these muscles will give your body a V-shape and create the illusion of a smaller waist. Don’t expect to immediately have the hourglass figure of Kim Kardashian, but incorporate upper body for a well-rounded (haha puns) physique.
Tuesday - Legs
Legs are my least favorite thing to train. Regardless of all my booty shots on Instagram, I feel like my lower body hasn’t developed much and I still struggle to feel engagement in my glutes. On these days I usually follow a workout from Instagram so I’m less tempted to slack off.
I alternate leg days, with one day focused on quads and glutes and the other on hamstrings and glutes. Most of us are naturally quad-dominant, so hamstrings are usually more difficult to target. Compound movements that hit all three major muscle groups are a great way to work up a sweat and hopefully plump that peach.
Wednesday - Push Day
Hump day is designated for the lumps every woman wants - some popping shoulders. I’ve seen crazy improvements in my shoulder game since I started lifting and would likely train them every day if it wasn’t frowned upon. I add in some tricep and chest work on shoulder day, although I’ll admit I neglect my chest more than I should.
Thursday - Light Legs
Usually, I still have some aches from Tuesday’s workout, so I do a high-rep and low weight leg day on Thursday. On this day I hit almost all compound movements that target the entire lower body, and incorporate more body weight “pump” exercises. Before this past semester, I only did two leg days each week, but I’m trying to get those #gains so I know I’ll have to work a bit harder. With any workout plan, it’s important to reassess your goals and weaknesses along the way and adjust accordingly. Even though I hate training my lower body, I know I need to push through to see the growth I want.
Friday, Saturday, Sunday
Depending on my workload and social schedule I train one to two days every weekend. I make sure to hit another heavy leg day and time permitting, a HIIT or LISS cardio session. For legs, I target whatever muscle group wasn't hit hard on Tuesday and weekends give me some extra time for a full-fledged workout, minus the hustle to class or work.
When I’m feeling especially ambitious I add in a full-body cardio session. Alright, cross-country runners, I’m looking at you. Cardio is torture. I commend people that actually enjoy running for upwards of an hour because the most I’ll do is a 30-minute incline walk. I follow it up with a 20-minute bodyweight workout, recently I’ve been religiously following @mad.fit’s on Youtube. Her abs look like they were sculpted by a damn god.
Depending on how much time and energy I have, cardio is usually the first thing to be cut from my gym session. On days I have time I switch between HIIT treadmill sprints, a short stair circuit, or a 15 to 20-minute incline walk. Even if you’re not trying to lose weight, adding in a bit of cardio improves heart health and endurance - before I could barely run a block without getting winded.
Probably the most frequent question I get on Instagram is my ab secrets. Seeing your abs ultimately comes down to diet, so don’t expect 100 daily crunches to give you the abs of Wonder Woman. I add in a short ab circuit on my upper body days, usually no more than 10 minutes. Abs aren’t my favorite thing to train so I prefer hitting them for a bit throughout the week so I can avoid a day dedicated to that dream of a six-pack.