There’s one reason why I waited until after my tenth blog to discuss weight training—I think it’s one of the most overrated factors in staying healthy.

I’m always surprised on how people think they’re going to lose weight if they do a ton of lifting at the gym. When I lift weights, I add more bulk to my body and I become heavier. I hear stories from women who hire trainers and they’re doing squats to make their legs skinny. Don’t they realize that lifting weights builds muscle and more muscle makes your legs look thicker? Would you rather have the legs of a marathon runner or a weight lifter? I know these are extreme situations, but you can get an idea what cardio does versus weight training.

I have fit modeled for some of the largest retailers in the Midwest including Lands’ End, Kohl’s, and Overland. This job entails putting on clothes to make sure they fit correctly and there’s no movement issues. This requires my measurements to stay at the standard medium size and I’m not allowed to get smaller or larger. When I first started, my chest was more than the standard 40 inches. I tried all kinds of methods to make it smaller, but the measurement never went down. I still had the football training mentality in that I would just go to the gym more to get in better shape. After about a year of trying to lose more weight at the gym, I became so desperate to decrease my chest size that I decided to stop doing bench press. This was against my nature since I was a man and my thinking this was the heart of staying in shape and strong was more chest exercises. What I found out was that the more time that I went without it, my chest size slowly reduced. Within a few months I had reached a standard 40 inches. What I discovered was that bench presses not only bulked up the front of my chest, but it also built up the muscles in my back even more. And unless you’re a body builder or planning on playing competitive sports, there’s no need to have all of this bulk in the back. If anything, it just makes you look bulky and puffy. Even though I grew up my whole life doing bench press, I have not done one in seven years. The good part is that the definition in my chest never changed because I was doing a couple other simple lifting exercises for my arms that still provided enough overlap workout to my chest.

It’s not necessary for your health, but regardless if you’re a man or a woman, it’s always nice to have toned biceps and triceps. There’s nothing more unattractive than a guy wearing a sleeveless shirt and his arms are fleshy or have no definition. I know many women can also appreciate tone arms when wearing a sleeveless shirt or dress. There are just a couple simple weight training exercises that you can do two or three times a week to keep your arms looking great.

Arm Curls
This may be an obvious way to tone your arms, but there’s a correct way to do them.

Take one dumbbell that’s less than what you’re used to lifting. Place your arm on a stationary object like an inclined bench. To put stability behind my arm, while standing, I just make a fist in my other hand and place it behind my triceps. Whatever way you choose, this technique eliminates putting any stress on the back or other areas.

Once your body and arm are steady, make a slow and steady upward curling motion. The key is to NOT lift the weight, but instead make a muscle while you’re making the curling motion. This way you’re not straining any other body parts and instead focusing on the muscles in your arm. Do this curl for 8-12 repetitions. I only do two sets but feel free to do more. This technique was taught to me by a former Chicago Bulls trainer. He didn’t want to create bulk in the arms but instead make the muscles tone and strong.

Triceps Extensions
Arm extensions are done by using the same technique. Choose a dumbbell that’s less than what you’re comfortable using. While standing with the dumbbell in one hand, reach down and put the other hand on a bench or stationary object. Take the other arm with the dumbbell and hold it down at a 90-degree angle. (Even though the image shows her kneeling, you can also do it with both feet on the ground.)

While keeping the top portion of your arm steady, slowly extend your arm back with the dumbbell straight so that it becomes even with your upper body. Again, the key is to NOT lift the weight, but instead make a muscle while extending back.

By doing both of these techniques, you may not think you’re strengthening your pecks, but there is just enough resistance so that you’re toning the surrounding muscles but not creating bulk in the front or back.