“How did you get your six-packs?”
People often ask me this question as if it was a goal I had set to achieve.
Like any other person out there, I was caught up in a lot of things and put fitness last in my life. Even though I was always active since I was young, life just drifts you away from it, making you feel as though other things are more of a priority.
Until one day, I decided to give the whole weight lifting experience a chance. I could never understand what was so fun about it. I mean, the whole reps thing seemed kind of boring to me. I still remember the first time I went to the gym and the trainer handed me a pair of two and a half kilogram dumbbells to use in my workout. The funny thing was that they felt heavy at the time. It took a while to get used to the new lifestyle I had set out for myself; I had gone from Latin dancing and sprinting to this.
I wanted to try this new sports initiative for a month and see where it goes. I wasn’t too excited at first because it felt like something I had to do to stay healthy and active. I needed to keep pushing myself to exercise even when I was too tired. I committed to changing this part of my life, and I wanted to do it right.
Here are three principles to build a stronger you:
1. Work every single muscle.
When I first signed up at the gym, a trainer prepared a workout schedule for me, detailing what muscles I should focus on three days a week; he included biceps and triceps exercises. I instantly decided that I wasn’t going to work on those muscles. I couldn’t stop picturing myself as a “bulky woman.” Even though that was impossible and the only way to get there was through steroids, it took me around two years to start working out all my muscles.
Another important thing to keep in mind is that weight lifting is a great way to burn fat. You’ll keep on burning calories even after your gym session is over. The challenge of lifting weights and building new muscle tissues enables your metabolism to ramp up. Maintaining this kind of routine ensures sustainable long-term results.
2. Start in the kitchen.
The only way to get results is to be all in, and that’s what happened. I needed to approach my diet with the same discipline I brought onto my training. I created a small calorie deficit by eating more nutrient-dense, lower-calorie foods like fruits and vegetables, and got plenty of proteins. I was never used to cutting out foods I enjoyed because doing so could actually backfire. I just had my sugary treats and alcohol consumptions in moderation (conveniently on weekends).
And finally, I always made sure to keep myself hydrated.
3. Find a fitness activity that you love.
I had so much going on in my life, so fitness was kind of my escape from all that was happening. Whether it was blowing off some steam or meeting new people, the gym was part of who I am now. It doesn’t have to be weight lifting and HIIT workouts for everyone—just love the physical activity you are doing because that’s what makes it a habit. Be passionate about the activity you choose because this is the only way you’ll commit to it.
Despite the fact that the above-listed principles sculpted the six-packs I have today, it’s not an easy mission, and some may find it more challenging than others due to body fat percentage or genetics. The most important thing is to stay active and love yourself.
Be happy with what you have accomplished whether it’s running a 10-k marathon, doing a pull-up, or mastering a pirouette.