Getting Buff With Karen

Women should NOT be afraid of progressive bodybuilding training. In the following article are some easy rules to follow once you get started.

My background as an aerobics instructor and natural fitness bodybuilding, has convinced me that far too many well-intended women don't understand how to really get a handle on controlling, preventing and definitely losing body fat accumulation, (especially with age-related changes).

It's not sexist to note, that in general, men are still more familiar with, and accepting of, weight training, enjoying more socialization toward the activity. Men also have larger masses of muscle fiber naturally and therefore have a first step, leg-up advantage in the fight to maintain the best genetic ratio of muscle-to-fat with advancing age, post-maturity.

Nonetheless, just like women, if men break the rules of energy intake versus outtake as they get older, they get fatter too, losing some muscle each year after age 25, especially if they do not exercise particularly the type two white muscle fibers with weight training.

Women should NOT be afraid of progressive bodybuilding training. In the following article are some easy rules to follow once you get started.

Karen Jo's Beginning Bottom Line, Triangle-Buffing

  • My triangle of success is through weights, aerobics and nutrition.
  • Most of the exercises you see illustrated herein can be done at home, without weights or done only with light dumbbells.
  • If you're beginning at the local gym, begin with basic barbell squats and use the leg press, leg curl and leg extension machines. I recommend two weight workouts per week with organized aerobics on opposite days. I enjoy vigorous STEP aerobic classes and secondarily, the Stairmaster.
  • With weights, first and foremost learn good form. Second, always warm up, and third, don't be afraid to train as heavy as possible for 1-4 sets, of anywhere from 10-15 reps to start. You will have some initial post workout soreness, of course, but this will recede and you have nothing to fear from heavy weights except success and tighter, better-shaped buns. Just check out those brave, exhibitionistic souls in Planet Muscle's Great Butt contest. AWESOME!
  • If you train at home, start with this routine:
    • Free-form squats with no weight, doing 3 sets of 15-25 very slow strict repetitions.
    • Slow free lunges with each leg, 3 sets of 15-20 repetitions. After a couple of weeks, you can do both exercises while holding progressively heavier dumbbells. (Print This Routine)
  • Learn to avoid saturated food-fats (trans-fats or hydrogenated fats ie. stick butter, crackers, cookies, doughnuts) and simple sugars (fructose, sucrose etc.) like the plague, because in their ultimate effect they ARE a plague.

Making Aerobics Work

While weight training is really more effective for the long-term control of body fat (as the addition of some muscle mass will chronically elevate your metabolic rate), aerobics are still extremely good. And that's not even counting the wonderful things they do for your cellular energy respiration, lung gas exchange and coronary artery/heart ventricle perfusion.

If you go for a long session (30-50 minutes), you can switch into fat burn. If you do several bouts of intensive short sessions (3 x 15-18 minutes), you will burn up excess carbohydrates and get into some nice metabolic after-burn (elevation of metabolic rate post-exercise) like you do from weights.

In general, I recommend at least one upper body session with weights in addition to the two lower body routines above. Also on three opposite days, I recommend a vigorous STEP aerobics class or a 20-30 minute vigorous workout on the Stairmaster.

Karen Jo's Bodybuilding Form Rules

  • Concentrate. Always keep your muscles tensed. Especially the abdominals.
  • When leg pressing and squatting, go slowly and steadily. Think tight form.
  • When leg pressing and squatting, go slowly and steadily. Think tight form.
  • Don't jerk, heave, drop into any bottom position or over-extend at the top.
  • When squatting or lunging, keep knees right over the toes and try to keep your weight back in the heels (not the toes).

Karen Jo's More Advanced Training

Listen ladies (and gentlemen, because hey, some of you guys have hefty hips, legs and gluteus too), fat hates activity and you have to work out hard to really change your body and get it the way you want it. Don't listen to the negative naysayers who simply tell you to "relax and just accept who you are." Yes, while you should accept and like yourself, you can make tremendous progress and get the body you want. It really depends on you - how badly you want it. Also, you must develop some good habits to incorporate into your lifestyle and most often this involves healthful eating and patience with your CORRECT exercise program.

I believe you should alternate two leg workouts over each week period, one heavy and one light. I train with a guy, Glynn Sun, who, lucky for me, happens to be a great personal trainer. We enjoy training heavy and help to motivate and push each other.

A Suggested Weight Workout (Saturday):

Click Here For A Printable Log Of Saturday!

A Suggested Second Weight Workout (Wednesday):

  • Squats - 4 X 8-10
  • Lunges - 4 X 15
  • Leg Presses - 4 X 8-10
  • Seated Leg Curls - 3 X 10
      or Standing Leg Curls - X 10 - View Exercise
      or Lying Leg Curls - 2 X 10
  • Back Extensions - 1-2 X 15-20 - View Exercise
  • Abdominal Crunches - 3 X 20

Click Here For A Printable Log Of Wednesday!

(Also, you should do an upper body all-around workout once per week.) More on that in the next issue!

Eating Right

    1. Eat small, nutrient-dense meals frequently. These should consist of quality proteins, fibrous vegetables and some limited fruit, about every 4 hours throughout the day. Say 8 a.m., noon, 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. with a protein snack such as a chicken or turkey Power Pocket (32-35 grams of protein) at 11 p.m.

    2. Your proteins should consist of high quality powders, turkey, chicken, fish, egg whites and low-fat cottage cheese. Legumes and soy based vegetable proteins are also fine, but supplement a wide mixture of these sources with a multi-vitamin, low iron and B-12 capsule. *I just discovered a fantastic new product called Eggology liquid egg whites in a jar - no more separating the egg and yolk! They're great too!

    3. Eat within one hour after waking in the morning.

    4. If you want to lean out and lose fat weight, you must go easy on both fats and simple carbohydrates. Limit fruit and white bread. Eat most of your carbohydrates as multiple-based fibrous, low sugar forms. Eat most of the carbohydrates, like oatmeal, vegetables and yams, prior to your 4 or 8 p.m. meal.

    5. Your beverages should almost always be water or skim milk (for calcium) and definitely NOT regular soda. Make a conscious effort to limit chemically sweetened soda and coffee. If you eat out, ask for boring unseasoned foods without sauces or cooked in butter. Salsa is a great sauce substitute. De-skinned chicken, turkey breasts and dry vegetables always work.

    6. I like to supplement my 4-5 meals with a powdered form of high vitamin C. I also take a multi that is high in the B-complex, calcium, magnesium and iron. I also like all the MET-Rx Protein-Plus Bars, Pure Protein Bars, SportPharma Bars and Power Pockets, which are all extremely convenient and taste good.

    7. The only snacks I ever eat are small amounts of air-popped popcorn (without salt or butter) a high fiber cereal or the Power Pockets. I NEVER eat snacks at movies (well, maybe an occasional gummy bear) and I don't care for any alcohol, wine or otherwise. Frankly, excessive sugar and alcohol both give me splitting headaches, which are probably telling me something! Remember, if you do indulge, go small!

Good luck, stay tuned for more in the next issue, and - NEVER GIVE UP.

About The Author

If you would like to learn more from Karen Jo, she teaches her version of slimming and buffing exercise the first three Thursdays of every month as part of Jeff Everson's PLANET MUSCLE Television on the E! (Entertainment National Cable Network), at 6 a.m. ECT and PST and 5 a.m. all other time zones. Or, check your local satellite listing and the full schedule published elsewhere in this magazine. Call us (800-555-3001), for more information on a great nutritional snack/meal, The Power Pockets, Eggology and even the protein bars too ...