Resistance Training For Women
Resistance Training For Women
What It Works: Glutes, quadriceps, core
How To Do It: Position your legs just wider than shoulder-width apart with your feet pointed forward and slightly out. Raise your arms up by your ears and hold them there throughout the duration of the exercise. Keeping your feet planted, sit back to 90 degrees as if there's a chair beneath you, and then come up. To prevent injury, make sure your knees never go past your toes, and don't worry if you can't sit back to 90 degrees on your first try. Depending on your joints and muscles, your range may vary, Wood says. Start with three sets of eight to 12 reps. This is an effective amount of work for conditioning. As you gain strength, you can try out the exercise with 7.5- to 10-pound dumbbells, one in each hand. Ultimately, you can work up to holding a barbell or Olympic bar on your shoulders.
What It Works: Glutes, hamstring
How To Do It: Wood created this lunge variation specifically for women who need to build strength in the glutes and hamstrings. Step forward with one foot, making sure your feet are close to parallel with one another. Place your back knee on the ground on a mat or towel for cushioning. Then, lift your back leg until you are just below a full lunge position (the key is to keep this movement lower to the ground). Your front leg should remain at a 90-degree angle from the floor so that the front glute stays engaged throughout the exercise. Do this exercise on both sides, completing three sets of 12-15 reps. Start with no weight, and work up to working with no more than 15-pound dumbbells.
What It Works: Glutes, hamstrings, lower back, abdominals
How To Do It: Start with your back knee on the ground and the front knee bent 90 degrees. Tuck the toes on the back foot under so you can more easily push off the back leg, and put your hands on the ground on either side of your front foot. At this point, you should resemble a sprinter at the starting block. Straighten the front leg to bring yourself into a standing position and let the momentum bring your back leg forward and in line with your front leg. Lower yourself back down. Repeat on both sides for three sets, aiming to work up to 20 repetitions for each set. Once you've reached this goal, try the exercise with 7.5- to 10-pound dumbbells in each hand. Do three sets of 12 reps.
What It Works: Hamstring, quadriceps, glutes, back, abdominals
How To Do It: For this exercise, you'll need a bench, box or ledge that's two feet tall. Stand with your back to the bench and raise one foot to rest on top with your toe tucked under. Your front leg should be in lunge position, with your leg bent at 90 degrees. Lunge down as far as you can with your front leg, so your back leg comes as close to the ground as possible. Make sure to keep your back straight, shoulders parallel to the floor and your knee at 90 degrees to the floor to help keep pressure out of the joint. Initially, no weight should be used for three sets of 10-15 reps. Once you work up to sets of 15-20 reps, try 12 reps with 10- to 15-pound dumbbells.
What it Works: Glutes, hamstrings, lower back
How to Do It: Move your legs slightly wider than shoulder-width and make sure your knees are slightly bent to help make sure you work the glutes and lower back without added pressure on your body. Hold a straight bar in your hands with a shoulder-width grip. Bend from your hip until your body is 90 degrees from the floor and your back is in tabletop position. Lower the bar so it hangs in front of your toes. Using the muscles in your lower back, glutes and hamstrings, pull your body back up to standing. Begin with a 12- or 15-pound body bar and continue to add weight as you gain strength in your legs and stability in your lower back. You can work up to whatever weight feels comfortable. According to Wood, who dead lifts a 70- to 80-pound barbell, there’s no set limit.
What It Works: Shoulders
How To Do It: When women say they want toned arms, they want that curve that goes to the top of the shoulder, Wood says. This exercise will help you develop that definition. Starting with a moderate weight, roll your shoulders back and lift the arms straight out on each side to a T position at shoulder level. Rolling the shoulders back will make sure you target the deltoid muscle and the front of your chest and will help improve posture. Lower your arms back down to your side and repeat. Begin with three- to five-pound weights for three sets of 12-15 reps. It's important not to overload the shoulder before it's ready, as this part of the body can be easily injured. Aim to work toward sets with 10-pound dumbbells.
What It Works: Lats (back)
How To Do It: Find a comfortable set of weights and hold one in each hand. With your legs together, bend your knees slightly and bend at the hip to move into a 90-degree angle. Extend your arms straight toward the floor and let them hang with your shoulders relaxed. Pull the weight upward toward your waist, allowing your elbows to move back until the weights are by your side. To maintain proper form and prevent injury, imagine that someone is pulling your elbows toward one another behind you. This will help keep your elbows and arms close to the midline of your body.
Start with a 7.5- to 10-pound dumbbell and complete three sets of 10-12 reps. You can work up to lifting a 15-pound dumbbell on both sides simultaneously for 12 reps or lifting a 20- to 25-pound dumbbell one side at a time.
By doing a bent row, rather than working this muscle on a machine, you can keep your arms closer and build a leaner look. If you work in a wide stance, you may build the muscle out and develop a wider back, creating a more masculine look, Wood says.
What It Works: Back, shoulders, rhomboids
How To Do It: Hold a straight bar and move your feet a few inches apart. Put the bar behind your head and press it upward until the arms are straight. The placement will force you to keep your arms behind your ears so you can open up and work the back of the shoulder. Start with a lighter weight than you think you need (a 12- to 15-pound body bar is usually good), as the move can be surprisingly difficult if you're not used to it, Wood says. Since the shoulder is so susceptible to injury, it’s imperative to use a manageable weight. You can progress toward using a 20-pound dumbbell for three sets of 12. Once that becomes manageable, you can work on lifting a 30-pound dumbbell for 10-12 reps.
What it Works: Pecs
How To Do It: Instead of lying flat on a bench as with a traditional chest press, stay slightly elevated using an incline bench. Hold a pair of dumbbells close to your sides and parallel to your body with your elbows tucked in. Push the weights straight up over the chest, bringing the tops of the weights together as your arms straighten. Begin with a 7.5- or 10-pound dumbbell, based on your comfort level. Work up to using 15- to 20-pound dumbbells for three sets of 10 to 12 reps.
What It Works: Pecs, triceps, deltoids
How To Do It: In push-up position, your body should be completely straight with your hands under your chest and legs extended. As you lower yourself to the floor, focus on a point slightly in front of you to keep proper form. Your goal should be to touch your chest (not your face) to the floor, as well as to keep your back straight and abdominals engaged. Begin with three sets of 10 reps with a goal to work up to as many push-ups in a set as possible. Initially, you can shoot for 30.
What It Works: Back, shoulder, bicep, rhomboids
How To Do It: The next two exercises will help you work up to doing full pull-ups, Wood says. For an inverted pull-up, find a stable bar, such as on the squat machine. Sit with the bar two to three feet above you, depending on your strength, and with your feet extended in front of you so that your body is in a 45-degree angle. Hold onto the bar with arms slightly wider than shoulder width apart and pull yourself up. Complete two to three sets of eight to 12 reps.
Pull-ups will help you build a strong back, Wood says, which can help prevent osteoporosis and injury.
What It Works: Back, shoulder, biceps, rhomboids
How To Do It: The easiest way to do a modified pull-up is on the pull-up assist machine with a narrower grip, Wood says. On the assist, shoot for three sets of 12 reps with no more than 85-100 pounds of offset weight. Work up to using less than half your body weight in the assist for three sets of 10-12 reps.
The hardest thing is getting [the exercise] out of the arms and the shoulders and into the back, Wood says. Once you learn to do that, you're golden.
This will be key in reaching the ultimate goal: real pull-ups.
What It Works: Triceps
How To Do It: Hold a five-pound weight just below the flat end and bring the weight behind your head. Keep your elbows facing forward as you straighten your arm and push the weight up. Lower the weight back down behind your head. Complete three sets of eight to 12 reps and slowly work up to using a 15-pound weight.
What It Works: Core
How To Do It: Move into plank position with your arms, legs and back straight, and your hands a few inches back from your shoulders. Bring one knee under your body to the opposite elbow, twisting slightly. Touch the knee to the elbow and then move back to plank position. You can alternate legs and sides, Wood says, or do one side at a time. Complete two sets of 20 reps.
What It Works: Core
How To Do It: For abdominal work, Wood chose functional core exercises that don't focus directly on the stomach but will still help you build strong, flat abs.
When you do direct ab work, you build muscle and that means you can bulk it up unattractively, Wood says. If you have a flat stomach and you gain pounds, it still looks OK, she explains, but if you have a six pack and you gain weight, you really notice the bulk.
For a plank walkout, start with your hands underneath your chest with your weight distributed between your hands and your toes. For proper position, make sure your legs are straight and your body is flat.
Beginning with your dominant hand, walk the hands out beyond the shoulders as far as you can go. This will engage your lower abdominals and lower back, while your entire body works to hold you up. Walk yourself back, beginning with the same hand you started with. Wood has her clients do 10 reps starting with the right hand and then another 10 with the left. Make sure not to let your hips or butt pop up or fall down. If they do, you're not engaging all the necessary muscles. For a modified version, try this exercise starting on your knees. Complete two sets of 20 reps.