I've always wanted to be curvy. As someone who is very short (I'm 5'1" on a good day) and naturally has broad shoulders and a large waist, I never thought I could achieve the curves I saw on billboards and magazines. I've been told since I was a kid that I have a stocky, athletic build. While there's nothing wrong with that, I wanted to see if it was possible to naturally build my own curves.
I had heard from various people (OK, maybe most of these people were on Instagram) that lifting weights was the quickest and most effective way to shed fat, build lean muscle, and accentuate your body's curves. I wanted to speak to an expert to find out if this was true, so I chatted with Dee (Diksha) Gautham, NASM-certified personal trainer and NPC bikini competitor.
Weightlifting, the form of exercise that is traditionally considered masculine, has helped me feel more feminine than ever before. "Muscle adds an amazing toned, feminine definition to the body," she explained. "What will happen if you train with weights is that you'll get sexy murves (muscle curves)!" I love lifting weights, so I figured it was worth a shot.
Over the last four months, I've dedicated myself to a rigorous weightlifting program. I spend three sessions a week on lower body — hip thrusts, deadlifts, squats, etc. — and spend another three sessions on upper body — one day is shoulders, another is chest and triceps, and the last is back and biceps. I will admit that this requires a lot of time and effort in the gym, but I love to work out (especially when weights are involved), and I'm fortunate enough to have the time to exercise this often. I limited my cardio to three or four times a week; any more than that would have taken away from my muscle gains.
Just last week I realised that the curves were finally starting to set in. Not only has my butt gotten much bigger, but my waist has gotten smaller and my shoulders and upper back have really toned up, which makes my waist look even smaller. When I look at the before-and-after pictures of myself, I can't believe how far I've come.
Dee said that she too has seen herself develop new curves in her body after she started strength training regularly, and you'll probably find many more women on Instagram who say the same.
One thing that many women forget about when they're lifting weights and chasing curves is that you can't neglect your upper body.
In addition to the regular weight training, I changed up my diet. I had to start eating more calories every day, as well as up the amount of protein and complex carbs I was consuming. After all, my muscles needed the protein to get stronger and my entire body needed the carbs to have energy to recover and get through the next workout in one piece. And I've never been one to say no to more food. Bring on the sweet potatoes!
Although I was eating more than 2,000 calories a day, I was also intermittent fasting, so I was eating all of my calories between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. IF is by no means necessary to gain muscle and build curves; I just chose to do it because of my digestive issues. I experience much less bloating and discomfort in my belly when I stop eating at 4 p.m. on weekdays, and I wake up the next morning with boundless energy to get through my morning workout. On the weekends, I'm not strict with my eating window, though, since I don't want it to get in the way of my social life. Plus, I'm not waking up crazy-early to train on weekend mornings.
I feel stronger and fitter than ever! I love how my clothes fit differently now as well. It's a funny thing to think about — weightlifting, the form of exercise that is traditionally considered masculine, has helped me feel more feminine than ever before. I love my new curves.
One thing that many women forget about when they're lifting weights and chasing curves is that you can't neglect your upper body, especially your shoulders and upper back. Looking at my pictures from today, I can see muscle definition in my upper body that was never there before, and I really don't think you would see as many curves if I didn't have that.
Some of my favourite upper-body exercises are bench presses, chest dips, shoulder presses, lateral raises, and (assisted) pull-ups. These movements didn't make me look bulky at all; on the contrary, they were the very things that helped me look more toned and slim all around.
If you're looking to build your own curves, don't be afraid to hit the weights. You don't have to work out as often as I did. Even squeezing in three strength-training sessions a week will help you shed fat and build lean muscle. Keep at it and eventually you'll see gorgeous curves of your own!