Body sculpting, also called weight training, resistance training or strength training, is a form of exercise which uses external weight or resistance or your own body weight to stress the muscles. The end result is newly toned or sculpted muscles. Body sculpting can help you get in shape, tone the body and lose weight. The basics of body sculpting are simple, even for beginners and it doesn't require a lot of equipment. Doing a body sculpting routine can yield many benefits for men and women--an increase in lean muscle mass, increased strength and stronger bones and joints. Increased muscle mass increases metabolism, resulting in more calories burned in everything you do.
If you've never done any sort of exercise program before, you're a beginner. Be sure to get the green light from your doctor before you start. If you've been injured or had surgery, you can be considered a beginner because of loss of strength or range of motion and have to modify or simplify your workout to a beginner's level. The same goes for post-natal women. And if you've been a cardio junkie and never included body sculpting into your routine, you are a beginner as well.
You don't need much equipment when you start body sculpting. First, you'll need a set of hand weights or resistance bands in a weight heavy enough to challenge you. If you don't have either, use cans from your kitchen cupboard or filled gallon jugs. You'll also need a mat or a carpeted area, if you're working out at home, and a mirror to watch your form. Beginners can also benefit from using an exercise ball or physio ball. Make sure you select one that is right for your height to prevent injury and incorrect form. You can also use exercise videos.
You can do body sculpting at home, at the gym or outdoors by using park benches, your front steps or the curb in your driveway. Doing a body sculpting routine at a fitness center gives you access to machines designed for beginners, which can be safer than free weights--and personal trainers, if you need some tips.
When you've just started a full body sculpting program, do exercises three or four times a week. When you lift weights, your muscles get with micro-tears, so allow at least 24 hours between each routine for recovery. The process of muscle repair is how your muscles get stronger. Choose a Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule or a Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday schedule, allowing at least 24 hours between each workout.
A beginner's program targets all the major muscles of the body in either single joint (bicep curl) or multiple joint exercises (squats, push-ups). Do one or two sets of 10 to 15 repetitions (reps).
When you do squats, sit back so your knees don't go past your toes. You can also place an exercise ball between the small of your back and a wall do wall squats while holding hand weights.
When you do lunges or split squats, step forward with one foot and lower your body by bending both knees, forming 90-degree angles. The motion should be up and down, not back to front.
To do a bridge, lie on your back, push up through your heels raising your hips and squeezing your butt. Be sure to engage your abs.
To do a good push-up, place your hands under your shoulders and feet hip-width apart. Keep your shoulders away from your ears and keep your abs tight. If necessary, do the push-ups on your knees or against a wall.
Do lateral shoulder raises by keeping a slight bend in your elbow as you lift your arms out to side. Don't hunch your shoulders.
When you do bicep curls or tricep extensions, don't swing your arms. You're cheating if you rely solely on momentum to lift the weight, use a lighter weight if necessary.
- "The Body Sculpting Bible for Women, Revised Edition: The Way to Physical Perfection"; James Villepigue and Hugo A. Rivera; 2006
- "Concepts of Physical Fitness, Tenth Edition"; Charles B. Corbin; 2000