Not too long ago, skinny was the ultimate beauty standard for women. Any visible muscle was frowned upon. A lean figure with slender limbs was the ultimate beauty goal. These days, thankfully, standards are changing. More people than ever before are aware of the fact that health is possible at a variety of shapes and sizes. Women with some muscles and strength are now viewed as sexy, instead of as anomalies.

Maybe your goal is improved overall fitness or perhaps you just want to feel confident in a two-piece bathing suit next summer. Now is the ideal time to start a new strength training program to improve your health and increase your self-confidence. With dedication and hard work, you’ll be sporting sexy, lean muscles by spring, with visible results in only a few weeks, depending on how hard you work.

Weight Lifting Doesn’t Mean Bulky Muscles

There’s a common misconception among people that lifting weights will inevitably result in big, bulky muscles. Even women who feel their sexiest when they’re strong probably don’t want to look like a body builder. The good news is that lean muscles build easily with weight lifting programs, and you don’t have to push yourself into that bulky muscle level.

How much weight you lift and how many repetitions of an exercise you do will be mandated by your current strength and fitness, not an arbitrary number. In order for strength training to really benefit your body, it needs to be high intensity and hard work. You can choose to work each muscle group every day or rotate between groups to allow for better rest. Your schedule and fitness level should inform how you organize your efforts. Working with a trainer or in a class setting can help, especially if you don’t understand the safe body mechanics for each exercise you attempt.

Get into a Simple Routine

If you go to a gym or work with a trainer, you’ll have access to the best advice and equipment around. Of course, you can achieve basic success at home as well, and starting at home may make you more comfortable with a gym atmosphere in time. Focus on simple strength training exercises, performed roughly three times a week. Try the modified squat, called a Goblet Squat, to build your quads, glutes and hamstrings. Follow that with the Deadlift, which can be done with basic dumbbells at home. No need for massive weight benches!

Use an exercise band to perform the Band Row, which will strengthen your back, core and arms. Pulling the band back toward your body and flexing the muscles in your back will slowly help you build strength. The Chest Press, which also uses dumbbells, helps increase your strength when it comes to upper body pushing. Finally, the Overhead Press will build strength in your shoulders, core and upper body. Twelve repetitions of each of these moves three times a week will have you feeling fit enough for a gym workout in no time.

Building Muscle Is Great for Your Overall Health

When you start strength training, you need to let go of your attachment to the number on the scale. For most weight-loss regimens, the success of the program is measured by the decrease in your weight. However, when you’re strength training, you’re looking to build muscle, not lose weight.

You can see a visual change in your shape and size without seeing any movement from your scale. You can work hard for weeks and discover that the number on the scale hasn’t moved at all. The reason why is simple: Muscle weighs more than fat.

The good news, despite your weight not changing, is that the more lean muscle you have, the more fat you burn. Muscle helps improve your metabolism. Even when you’re sitting on the couch, binging on a sitcom, you’ll be burning more calories because of the demands of your increased muscle mass.