The weight room is no longer a man’s world. Ladies are getting into formation at the squat rack and hitting the bench — and it’s not just about aesthetics. Lifting heavier weights can help strengthen joints and improve sports performance, among other benefits. Yet while super-toned arms and glutes are muscle groups women tend to tackle first, they shouldn’t wave, “Bye Fit-licia” to other areas.
Erika Shannon, certified personal trainer and a lead trainer for Daily Burn’s Power Cardio Program, says, “In general, women tend to have weaker chests and shoulders, just because of how we are anatomically different than men.”
Women also need to strengthen their core and pelvic floor, especially those who recently gave birth and have diastasis recti, Shannon says. And because women have smaller, thinner bones than men, weightlifting is recommended to help build bone density and reduce risk of osteoporosis. Here’s our strength workout plan for women.
The Workout Plan for Women to Get Strong
Ready to get strong head to toe? These compound dumbbell exercises from Shannon’s Power Cardio workout plan for women target multiple muscles at once, while providing cardio benefits, too. “I use compound movements to get the best bang for your buck, time-wise. Why just work arms when you can get legs, core and cardio, too?” Shannon says. Grab a pair of dumbbells and perform eight reps of each move for two to three rounds. But don’t skimp on weight! The heavier you lift, the greater the results.
1. Hip Hinge to Reverse Fly
Targets: Back and shoulders
This good morning and reverse fly combo engages your thoracic spine, so you can draw your shoulder blades together and open the chest. “I love a reverse fly because it opens up the upper back. When we’re hauling our kiddos around all day, we tend to hunch and the shoulders pull way forward,” Shannon says.
How to: Hold a dumbbell in each hand by your hips, and stand with your feet slightly wider than hip-distance apart (a). Engaging your core and pulling your shoulders back, bend forward at the waist until your torso is parallel to the ground (b). Then, using your back and shoulder muscles, raise your arms up to form a “T” with your elbows slightly bent. Squeeze your shoulder blades together to fully engage the muscles (c). Bring your arms back down and stand back up to the starting position (e).