Anybody who follows me on social media knows that my summer in Dallas resulted in more than an undying, embarrassing LUV for Southwest Airlines. I started doing Yoga Sculpt at a studio called Corepower, and absolutely fell in love. When I first moved to Dallas, I was really stressed about finding a workout that would compare to my routine at school – and what I ended up finding was something far, far better.
Here are a few things I learned from my favorite butt-kicking workout that I’ve used to adapt and improve my old routine.
You don’t have to run. You can if you’d like – sometimes I love going on long runs to clear my head, but if that’s not your thing, then don’t sweat it (pun intended). I’ll admit, a “yoga strength-training class” made me a little skeptical at first. I used to run several miles a day and felt like I needed to pound the pavement for an hour to maintain my physique. I did Yoga Sculpt about four times weekly this summer and never ran, and I lost around six pounds within two weeks.
What to do instead: You’re better off introducing cardio bursts (jumping jacks, mountain climbers, high knees, jump rope, burpees, etc.) into your strength training workout to elevate your heart rate temporarily. I’m no exercise scientist so I’m not entirely certain of why this is more effective, but I’ve had more than one trainer inform me that weight and interval training is better for weight loss and toning than running. The fact that I could run three miles easily but had a hard time with a half-minute of mountain climbers should be proof that cardio bursts are harder (and more effective)!
Low weights and high reps. I used to take pride in doing my bicep curls with the 15 lb. weights at the gym (that’s not very much, but it was a lot for a scrawny girl like myself). I felt accomplished as I slowly added weight to workouts and got stronger – but I wasn’t totally pleased with the physical results. I noticed my arms and thighs looking bulkier over time, but not exactly toner. The weights I used at Sculpt were only 3 lbs. and 5 lbs., but I had long, lean muscles in absolutely no time because we’d do (what felt like) a bazillion reps of each exercise every class. What felt extremely light in the beginning of class felt SO heavy by the end, because our arms were constantly working.
What to do: I loved the arm sequence we’d do in Sculpt because it left my arms burning by the end – way more than my 15 lb. curls ever did. Because we did so many, I’m not sure of the exact rep count, but from my recent experimenting at the gym I think three sets of 20 reps per arm exercise should do the trick. Using a 5 lb. (or 3 lb.) weight, rotate through sets of regular curls, hammer curls and wide-arm curls.
If it feels easy, you’re probably doing it wrong. I legitimately couldn’t make it through a single Sculpt class without taking a short break to compose myself and try not to throw up. It was so physically taxing every single time. Any time we’d do a flow that I thought I was easily killing, the instructor would walk over and make some adjustment to my body that made it twice as difficult. “You need to be squeezing your knees together,” or “Tuck your butt under,” or “Squeeze your shoulder blades behind your back,” they’d say, informing me my form was garbage. The point is, a workout is supposed to be challenging. Squeezing certain muscles and paying attention to your alignment and form make the difference between a total waste of time and an effective workout.
A few common mistakes: The most common exercises I see young women my age doing incorrectly are squats and pushups. While there are different types of squats, the standard squat we’d do in Sculpt would require you to stand with your feet shoulder-distance apart (this is closer together than you think). Make sure you keep your chest/head raised and your butt tucked underneath you, and that your knees don't go over your toes as you squat. If you’re hunching over or overarching your back in either direction, you won’t work the muscle group you’re trying to target. Same goes for pushups – the most common mistake I saw or experienced was dipping the hips or sticking the butt in the air. The instructors always emphasized there should be a “straight line from your head (which is looking down between your hands) to your heels.”
Best of luck and happy sweating!
All things beauty.