What are the best strength training exercises for women looking to lose weight? Read on to find out!
More and more women are getting comfortable in the gym, and we’re finally starting to lose the fear that lifting some proper weights will end with us looking like linebackers.
The problem is that there is so much information available, it can be hard to pick which exercises are going to be the most effective for losing weight and gaining strength.
We want to have sexy curves, but we don’t want to bulk up in manly ways.
While there are endless varieties of these exercises you can try to target various small muscle groups and challenge your balance and flexibility, we’ve gathered the best strength training exercises for women for you to use in your routines.
Master the Essential Squat
Squats are by far the best strength exercise to keep in your routine. Many women who are training seriously keep squats to only days where they focus on legs.
But since they are so versatile, squats can be used as a warm-up without added weight and by increasing the pace.
Squats strengthen and tone the entire posterior chain, and yup, that means working that booty.
This exercise will help you to get that nice firm, round look to your behind while slimming down your thighs and toning your calves. It also helps to work the stability in your core and hips.
When you’re ready for the next level, you can turn your squats into weighted squats, kettlebell swings, ballerina squats, and other variations.
Proper form is important to avoid injury. Remember that when squatting, knees should not move forward past the toes, and the weight will remain centered on your heels.
Also keep your head forward and your eyes a little bit up, otherwise you may be tempted to round your back outwards, leading to muscle strains.
The Classic Push Up
I’m not talking about your bra, here. We women struggle with upper body strength, so focusing on our arms, chest, and back makes sense for a balanced figure.
Quite a few women can’t even do one pushup because our strength can be that unbalanced.
If you think about any time you’ve struggled to carry all the groceries in, or hold a laundry basket, these are the muscles we want to improve.
If pushups from the standard position are too challenging, start by doing them on your knees.
Focus on keeping the core tight, and let your chest come as close to the ground as possible before rising.
It’s difficult to cause injury with this exercise, but the wrists are particularly susceptible. If you have wrist pain, you can do pushups with your hands in fists, or use tools that allow you to grip a bar.
Some of these devices allow the bar to rotate, which can be a great added challenge for those with experience, but aren’t so good if you’re just starting out.
Variations such as bringing the hands closer together, or starting out in a downward-dog type of pose can challenge different muscle groups and add definition to your shoulders when you get to that level.
Keeping the focus on the upper body, we can work a different set of muscles with the overhead press.
In this exercise, you will need some weights, but you can substitute milk jugs or other items that have handles.
This exercise will dramatically help your strength, but will also help you to focus on your posture in your upper back.
If you have a tendency to curl your shoulders forward when you sit, you may be a little extra sore after doing these.
But you’ll naturally start to shift to better sitting positions once you make this exercise a habit. Not only that, but you’ll have gorgeous shoulders that will look fantastic in a tank top!
Out with Crunches, in with Twists
You’ve done them, and you probably hate them. Standard crunches, or sit-ups aren’t fun to do, and they aren’t particularly effective, either.
Crunches only work 4 of your core muscles, ignoring a couple dozen others. It’s those other muscles that will give you that tight, cinched in waist and a flat belly, including that lower belly pooch we love to hate.
Russian twists, however, are a more challenging exercise. This is because they use almost all of the core muscles, and even help to strengthen the lower back.
When you start, don’t use additional weight, and make sure you’re well stretched.
As you get the balance down, you can alternate, moving your legs in a bicycle fashion to target your lower abs even better.
When these get too easy, hold a medicine ball or kettlebell in your hands as you twist. Keep your pace measured and steady. Moving side to side too quickly can pull muscles and cause injury instead of building strength.
There are few moves that can target the whole body in one fluid motion. The best of these to tighten up your whole body, use all your major muscle groups, and get your blood pumping is the legendary Burpee.
Burpees combine pushups, squats, and jumping jacks for an all-over intense workout that you can’t ignore.
When you get started, expect to only be able to do about 5 of them, they’re intense! But keep practicing, since your strength and endurance will increase quickly.
For those who are new to strength training and don’t really know where to start, there are strength training dvds that can help get you started.