Strength Training Exercises for Women (cont.)

There are a lot of exercises in Lean, Long & Strong that don't require any weights at all. You don't need dumbbells or resistance bands. These exercises rely on body weight, such as lunges, plies and pushups. As you get better at certain exercises you add weight to increase the challenge. With a band it's hard to quantify how much weight you're at.

MEMBER QUESTION: What type of weights do you recommend?

LINGUVIC: I recommend a set of dumbbells to start off, perhaps a 5 pound, an 8 pound and a 10 pound, depending on your fitness level.

I highly prefer dumbbells to exercise machines, for the reasons I've said before. In other words, if you sit down on a machine and press something up, you're really getting good at sitting on a machine and pressing something up. If you sit on a ball or stand in a squat position and press up a set of dumbbells, not only are you working your shoulders, you're working your core muscles, which are your abdominals and lower back, and you're challenging your balance and coordination. In real life, we need all of those things.

MEMBER QUESTION: Do you need to go to the gym daily to workout?

LINGUVIC: No. You can do the workouts in Lean, Long & Strong at home or at the gym. You can do a workout at home with a set of dumbbells and a mat -- and I really like an exercise ball. If you like going to the gym every day, be sure to vary your workout and not to lift weights every day.

People think that fitness is a full-time job. Being fit is supposed to enhance your whole life, not be your whole life. You want to be able to do your workout and then lift your kids up, take the stairs, carry your groceries and feel relaxed, not worry about being in the gym for hours.

MEMBER QUESTION: So you recommend free weight to exercise machines?

LINGUVIC: Yes. Free weights do more for your body than exercise machines.

MEMBER QUESTION: Does the size of the exercise ball matter?

LINGUVIC: Yes. If you are under five feet tall, use a 45-centimeter exercise ball. If you are under five foot six, 55 centimeter, and if you are between 5 foot 7 and 6 foot 1, use a 65-centimeter ball. A good way to test it, if there's a couple of balls in the gym or you are trying it out at a store, you should be able to sit comfortably on it at a 90-degree angle.

If you are a beginner, there's a special ball called a physioball. There's a picture of it at my web site, which is It looks like a peanut and it's more for beginners because it only rolls forward and back instead of forward and back and to the side. A physio roll is an excellent beginner option.

MEMBER QUESTION: Do you think that yoga and Pilates are good options for strength training?

LINGUVIC: Pilates is an excellent exercise to stretch and to connect to your core muscles, but it doesn't really do anything to get you stronger after a certain point, especially in your upper body.

Pilates is an excellent complement to strength training, but it is not enough to truly change the shape of your entire body.

As for yoga, it is a wonderful form of exercise. But it is not the best way to change your body. I practice yoga for the relaxation benefits of it and the breath control. Everyone in my yoga class asks me how to get cuts in their arms. Yoga is an excellent complement to strength training but it does not change your body the way strength training does.

MEMBER QUESTION: If you are new to strength and weight training, what are the best exercises to begin with, to tone and build sexy lean legs and hips?

LINGUVIC: I think the best "bang for your buck" exercise there is are lunges.

MEMBER QUESTION: Is it natural to have one calf muscle bigger then the other, even though you work them both at the same?

LINGUVIC: Good question. Sometimes one muscle is bigger than the other because we tend to use one more than the other, from a previous injury or just because that's the way our bodies are.

You should check to see if one calf muscle is stronger than the other versus looks bigger. If one is stronger than the other you should make sure you use the weaker side for one or two more sets. No one is perfectly symmetrical.

Please pay attention to the way you walk, the way you stand. For instance, when you're waiting in line at the bank, are you leaning your body weight on one hip only, jutting your hip out to the side? How do you carry your shoulder bag? If you play a sport, such as tennis or golf, are you always leading with your strong side? Try and always do things evenly and notice your posture. Eventually it will be second nature to be even and balanced.

MEMBER QUESTION: I have 43-inch thighs and I want them very tight and muscular, so what do you recommend for do the legs? I always wanted a gap in between my legs and I'm really tired of them rubbing so much.

"Give your body a challenge with a good strength-training program [and] your body will adapt to that challenge by getting stronger, fitter and leaner."

LINGUVIC: To change the shape of your legs to get them tight and muscular you need to do three things:

  • You need to strength train your whole body. I know you might be thinking, OK, I'll just do lunges, because Wini said lunges are the best lower body exercise. However, when you work your whole body you increase your metabolism and you burn more body fat and it's key as you're getting stronger and defining muscles that you, at the same time, have your body fat drop so that you can see those muscles. So you need to do a strength training workout for your whole body. You can certainly focus on your lower body. In Lean, Long & Strong we have a lower body concentration where you work your lower body a little bit more, yet you still need to work your whole body.
  • You need to do smart aerobics. What do I mean by smart aerobics? Three times a week, in moderate intensity with some kind of consistent movement. Whether it's cycling, walking, walking combined with jogging, using a Stairmaster if you have access to a gym -- but something that will help accelerate the fat burning.
  • You need to be eating a sensible diet. There's lots of good information out there about healthy eating strategies. Sensible strategies for eating healthy will help you have those tight, strong legs.

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