Lean muscle mass is a woman’s best friend when it comes to boosting metabolism. Muscle also aids in protecting long-term mobility and adding sexy curves. What you may not realize is that strength training for women burns calories, helps reduce body fat and can help to keep hormones in balance.
Very few of us have a lot of time to devote to the gym. To get the most bang for your buck in terms of results and torch extra calories focus your efforts on compound movements. Unlike isolation movements which only hit one muscle at a time compound movements activate multiple joints and large muscle groups during a single movement. When multiple and larger muscles get activated you get a greater increase in heart rate and greater calorie burn which mimics an interval cardio workout. Strength training for women is a better option than cardio as you’ll build more muscle, gain more strength and burn more calories in less time.
We hear from most women that they feel intimated about starting strength training because they don’t know where to begin. To get you started here are the top five core movements we recommend you learn to get you started on strength training.
Strength Training for Women: The Top 5 Moves
This is one of the first strength training moves that any woman should learn. The deadlift is truly a full body workout. The act of moving weight from the floor will activate your hamstrings, buttocks, lower back, quads, upper back, abdominal muscles all the way around your core, shoulders, arms and grip strength. This move adds to your functional strength making everyday movements easier. Because the weight begins on the floor its an easier starting point for beginners. You can start with moving a light weight and practice the move to build up strength gradually before attempting to carry the load on your back or shoulders with a squat.
There are multiple variations of the deadlift that allow you to target different areas of the legs. The straight leg Romanian deadlift hits the hamstrings where a sumo stance will spread a little more across the hamstrings to the quads.
Deadlift to Military Press
Once you master the deadlift you can add a clean and a military press to the move. Adding an overhead press movement adds tension to the front and top of the shoulders. These muscles are what give you the nice roundness to the top of the shoulder and make it easier to lift things over your head. Building up your muscles also creates the illusion of a smaller waist.
The squat is the same movement as the deadlift but the weight sits on your back instead of the floor. This shift in weight requires that you have more core strength just to carry the weight let alone move through the squat movement. This weight shift is the key reason that a deadlift makes a nice introduction to the squat. The deadlift will help you build up some of the key strength needed before you need to bear the weight yourself. When it comes to building hip strength you can’t beat combining deadlifts and squats.
For beginners you can start out with a bench behind you. With the weight on your back hinge at the hip and sit back on the bench. When you touch the top of the bench push through the legs and rise back up. As you get stronger you can remove the bench and perform the full squat. Remember to keep the spine neutral, keep the knees pressed out and behind the toes. You don’t want to let the knees collapse in as you push up.
When it comes to strength training for women the number one exercise recommended by almost every model and fitness expert is the lunge. Lunge down the hallway, lunge backwards out of rooms, lunge from side to side and curtsy lunge. To make it interesting and target different angles of the muscle you can switch up where you hold the weight. You can carry the weight on your back, hold dumbbells at your side, hold a kettle bell in front of you or lunge without any weight at all. When it comes to toning your legs and butt you can’t get better than lunges.
The last move is the one I like the least, but need the most. Step ups test your balance while building up hip strength. You can start with low steps and add weight gradually. As you get better at them increase the step height.
Just Get Started
It may feel intimidating at first but remember we all start somewhere. Practice these moves a little at home first then take them to the gym with confidence. You’ll have your metabolism revving and hoisting those groceries with ease!
- Healthline, The importance of Strength Training for Women, Medically Reviewed Peggy Pletcher, MS, RD, LD, CDE, June 9, 2016, http://www.healthline.com/health/importance-strength-training-women#Overview1