Your Hourglass Physique in 4 Simple Steps -

Written by Sara Frenza

Sounds too good to be true? Nah. All it takes is SMART work. I got you, girl. Read on as I reveal my 4 simple (but not always easy) steps for sculpting that enviable hourglass shape.

Consistency. Consistency. Consistency. It’s great… Unless you’re doing the wrong things, then you’re just reinforcing bad habits and lackluster results. So, work smart. Build that hourglass physique we’re ALL after (let’s face it—it’s enviable because it’s stunning!), complete with symmetrical and balanced lean muscle. Just start implementing these four steps on the reg—document your progress with photos—and watch as the hourglass figure reveals itself. Oh, and pay it forward by passing this article along, because strong women lift strong women.

Step 1: Practice Progressive Overload

Progressive overload training is a cornerstone of any effective strength training program. This just refers to the gradual increase of stress placed on the muscles through resistance or weight training. This type of training helps you build lean muscle mass, increase strength and endurance, and elevate your overall fitness.

Here’s how it works: your body is naturally adaptable and can accommodate physical stress placed on it. So, when you slowly and gradually increase the weight you lift or the strength of the resistance band you use, you force your body to adapt to a new, increased level of stress.

This forced adaptation results in the growth of lean muscle mass, as well as an increase in strength. The key to progressive overload training? Continuously and consistently challenging your muscles to work harder during your workouts.

A fantastic way to practice progressive overload and see the results you want, faster, is by using compound movements and lifts as often as possible in your workouts. Compound movements and lifts are exercises that use multiple joints and muscle groups at the same time. Not only is this more efficient than isolating one muscle group at a time (I know, we love to train but we’re all busy—you don’t need to spend hours a day in the gym to see progress!), compound lifts also trigger the release of GH (growth hormone) and testosterone. Eek… Did I just say a bad word? Not to worry—as women we absolutely need to stimulate GH and testosterone in healthy doses to build muscle. So, haul that heavy weight, often, for physique changes you (and others!) will actually notice.

Step 2: Become Pro Protein

Okay, I KNOW you’ve heard this before. You need protein to build muscle, faster. So why aren’t you embracing this powerhouse macronutrient yet?

Protein is made up of amino acids, which are quite literally the building blocks of muscle. After a workout, the body uses protein to repair and rebuild damaged muscle fibers. This process, called protein synthesis, is essential for muscle growth and recovery. The more intense the workout, the more protein the body needs to repair and rebuild damaged muscle tissue.

So, how much protein do YOU require to make those gains? The amount you need daily depends on factors such as your weight, age, and activity level. As a general guideline, you should be consuming about one gram of protein per pound of bodyweight.

Variety is the spice of life, and this rings true for protein too. There are a ton of protein-packed foods that you can easily incorporate into your diet to ensure you're getting enough of this superhero macronutrient to support muscle growth and recovery. Here are a few examples:

  1. Meat and poultry: Chicken, beef, pork, and turkey are all high in protein
  2. Fish: Salmon, tuna, and cod are all high in protein and rich in omega-3 fatty acids
  3. Eggs: An excellent source of protein and can be easily incorporated into a variety of meals
  4. Dairy: Greek Yogurt and cottage cheese are great options as well if you’re lactose-friendly

So, in summary, eat the protein, girl, and your physique goals will come.

Step 3: Embrace a Healthy Caloric Deficit

A caloric deficit occurs when you consume fewer calories than your body burns in a day, and this is an essential factor in your hourglass physique, because when you create a caloric deficit, your body turns to stored fat as a source of energy. This leads to a reduction in body fat. So, understanding the critical caloric deficit and its impact (as well as how to create a healthy one!) is clutch in your quest for your very own hourglass physique.

The size of the caloric deficit determines the rate of weight loss and the amount of body fat you want/need to lose to reveal your hard-earned muscle. A moderate caloric deficit of 300-500 calories per day is a safe and effective way to reduce body fat over time—without going too extreme. I don’t want you fainting on the gym floor. Going too extreme with your caloric deficit to try to lose body fat faster will always backfire as you also risk losing muscle mass. Plus, it’s just unhealthy, unsustainable, and—frankly—not a cute look.

So, here are a few quick tips to help you create a healthy caloric deficit:

  1. Track your calorie intake: Use a food diary or an app to track the calories you consume each day. This will help you determine your current caloric intake and make adjustments as needed.
  2. Reduce portion sizes: Reduce the portion sizes of your meals and snacks to help reduce your overall calorie intake.
  3. Choose nutrient-dense foods: Focus on eating nutrient-dense foods such as fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains that keep you feeling full and satisfied while reducing your calorie intake.

Step 4: Don’t Just Count Calories—Count Sheep

Did you know sleep plays a crucial role in muscle recovery and growth? That’s because while you sleep, your body releases growth hormone, which helps you repair and rebuild muscle tissue. Adequate sleep also aids in reducing inflammation and stress, both of which can contribute to muscle damage. Not to mention just feeling puffy and bloated. Additionally (and obviously), proper sleep can also improve athletic performance by boosting energy levels, coordination, and reaction times.

The National Sleep Foundation recommends seven to nine hours of sleep per night for adults. However, the specific amount of sleep YOU need can vary depending on individual factors such as age, lifestyle, and your overall health. It's important to listen to your body and prioritize quality sleep, though, over a specific number of hours.

Tips for Improving Sleep Quality:

  1. Maintain a consistent sleep schedule.
  2. Create a relaxing bedtime routine.
  3. Limit caffeine and alcohol consumption.
  4. Avoid screens for at least an hour before bedtime.
  5. Keep your sleeping environment cool, quiet, and dark.
  6. Exercise regularly but not too close to bedtime.
  7. Consider using a white noise machine.
  8. Avoid napping during the day.
  9. Use a comfortable mattress and pillow.
  10. Practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or meditation.

Listen, I know achieving your fitness goals is a priority for you and we all wish we could get instant results, but building muscle and losing fat to reveal that lean muscle can take time and patience. For some, a bit more than others. Having said that, when you implement these four critical factors to build that hourglass physique you’re after, it will happen faster.

So, stay committed and consistent with these four tips in-hand, and your best body will come. You’ve got this.

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