When we first came across the My Sweat Life fitness blogger Kelsey Wells, we were obsessed with her message to #screwthescale and focus on things that really matter at the end of a fitness transformation: health and happiness. Rather than fixate on the number on the scale, Wells focused her own journey on gaining strength, ability, and endurance. Now, as a trainer on Kayla Itsines' app, SWEAT, Wells is helping countless women transform their bodies by following her "strength over the scale" mentality. (And she continues to keep it real along the way, reminding women to be kind to themselves and not strive for perfection in the gym.)
Her PWR program (and her new PWR 3.0 program, which includes 36 weeks of weight-based workouts) is all about sculpting lean muscle and strength—and its popularity is a testament to just how many women are eager to pick up heavier weights. (Because, as Wells has pointed out, muscles *are* sexy. And whether they realize it or not, most women who are looking to make a weight-loss transformation are really looking to gain muscle, too.)
For those new to heavy lifting, Wells created this full-body mini-barbell workout based on her program that will get you started. Follow along with the video to master her form. (Next up: 4 Lower-Body Toning Exercises from Kelsey Wells)
5-Move Full-Body Mini-Barbell Workout
How it works: Complete 3-5 sets of 10-12 reps.
You will need: A mini barbell, loaded to a heavy weight. (Wells uses 40 to 60 pounds for a mini barbell, but recommends selecting a weight that is a 7/10 difficulty for you and increasing as your strength and confidence improves.)
A. Hold a barbell, palms facing body. Stand with feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart with a slight bend in the knees.
B. Hinge at the hips to bend forward, keeping back straight, lowering barbell in front of shins.
C. Lift torso and squeeze glutes at the top to return to starting position.
A. Stand straight with feet shoulder-width apart. Hold barbell in front of thighs.
B. Bend knees and lower upper body forward to about 45 degrees with arms extended straight down to the floor.
C. With a rowing motion, bring the weight straight up toward chest and clench shoulder blades together. Hold for one second and repeat. Maintain a tight abdomen while performing this exercise.
A. Stand with feet wider than shoulder-width apart, toes turned out at about 45 degrees, barbell resting on shoulders.
B. Inhale to sit hips back and lower into a squat, keeping core engaged and back neutral.
C. Pause at the bottom, when hips are in line with knees or when form starts to break. Shins should be vertical and knees should be tracking over (but past) toes.
D. Exhale to press into heels and outer edge of foot to stand.
A. Stand with feet hip-width apart, knees soft, and core engaged. Hold barbell in front of chest at shoulder height, with palms facing forward and elbows pointing down.
B. Exhale while pressing barbell directly overhead (not forward), so wrists stack directly over shoulders and biceps are next to ears. Keep core engaged.
C. Reverse the movement so the barbell follows the same path to return to starting position.
A. Start in a high plank position with palms just narrower than shoulder-width apart, holding onto barbell. Engage quads and core as if holding a plank.
B. Inhale and bend elbows straight back to lower entire body simultaneously toward the floor, triceps tight next to ribs. Pause when chest is just below elbow height.
C. Exhale and press into palms to push body away from the floor to return to starting position, moving hips and shoulders at the same time.