Strength training is essential for optimal health and fitness. Contrary to what many believe, it offers a multitude of benefits for women, going far beyond just the aesthetic appeal of toned muscles.
It’s a crucial element for enhancing overall health, physical strength, and mental well-being. I’ve found that strength training plays a vital role in enhancing my mental health.
Engaging regularly in such activities has helped reduce my feelings of anxiety and depression, and improved my mood. It also boosts self-esteem and cognitive function.
Additionally, it’s instrumental in developing better body mechanics and enhancing balance, coordination, and posture, which are crucial for my daily activities and aging gracefully. As we age, strength training becomes even more important.
It helps maintain muscle mass and strength, which naturally start to decline. Without it, we all could face decreased functional ability and increased dependency.
That is why it is important to utilize several training forms:
- Front Squat and Overhead Shoulder Press
- Alternating Reverse Lunge and Bicep Curl
- Deadlift and Upright Row
- Lateral Lunge and Single Arm Back Row
- Push-Up and Side Plank Hold
- Glute Bridge and Tricep Extensions
- Glute Bridge Hold and Chest Press
Let us take a look at these in greater detail.
Best Strength Training Exercises for Women
Strength training is a powerful tool for women to enhance their fitness, build muscle, and improve overall health. Here are several best strength training exercises, each targeting different muscle groups for a balanced and effective workout.
1. Front Squat and Overhead Shoulder Press
This compound exercise works the lower body, shoulders, and core. Begin with feet shoulder-width apart, holding dumbbells at shoulder level.
Perform a squat, keeping your weight in your heels, then rise and transition into a shoulder press. This exercise strengthens the glutes, quads, hamstrings, and shoulders.
2. Alternating Reverse Lunge and Bicep Curl
A great exercise for the legs and biceps. Step back into a lunge while keeping your front knee aligned with your ankle. In the lunge position, perform a bicep curl.
This exercise targets the quads, hamstrings, glutes, and biceps, promoting lower body strength and balance.
3. Deadlift and Upright Row
This exercise focuses on the hamstrings, glutes, and shoulders. Start with a dumbbell in each hand, perform a deadlift by hinging at the hips, and then transition into an upright row as you stand.
It’s excellent for building a strong back and posterior chain.
4. Lateral Lunge and Single Arm Back Row
This move targets the outer thighs, glutes, and upper back. Step into a lateral lunge, then performs a single-arm row with the opposite arm.
This exercise not only works on strength but also improves lateral movement and flexibility.
5. Push-Up and Side Plank Hold
A full-body exercise that strengthens the chest, shoulders, triceps, and core. Perform a push-up, then transition into a side plank, holding for a few seconds.
This combination enhances upper body strength and core stability.
6. Glute Bridge and Tricep Extensions
Lie on your back with your knees bent and perform a glute bridge. While holding the bridge, do tricep extensions.
This exercise targets the glutes, hamstrings, and triceps, making it ideal for toning the back of the body.
7. Glute Bridge Hold and Chest Press
Similar to the previous exercise but with a focus on the chest. Hold a glute bridge and perform a chest press with dumbbells.
This exercise strengthens the chest, arms, glutes, and hamstrings. Each of these exercises offers a unique set of benefits, making them ideal for a comprehensive strength training routine for women.
They can be modified to suit different fitness levels and can be done with various equipment, making them versatile for gym or home workouts.
“A lot of women have a bit of a fear when it comes to weight training, and not knowing what to do. They don’t want to look silly.” – Ange Drake, founder and head coach at 23W
Strength Training for Beginners
Embarking on a strength training journey can be both exciting and intimidating for beginners, especially for women who are new to lifting weights. Utilizing the fundamentals and starting with the right approach is key to a successful and sustainable strength training routine.
At its core, strength training involves exercises that use resistance to induce muscular contraction, leading to increased strength, endurance, and muscle size. Unlike cardio exercises, which improve cardiovascular health, strength training focuses on building muscle and strength.
The first step is to set realistic goals. Whether it’s gaining strength, improving muscle tone, or increasing bone density, your goals will guide your training regimen.
Begin with two to three strength training sessions per week, allowing your body to adapt and recover. Focus on full-body workouts that target all major muscle groups, ensuring balanced development.
Start with basic compound movements like squats with dumbbells, deadlifts, and bench presses. These exercises work multiple muscle groups simultaneously and are highly effective for beginners.
Bodyweight exercises like push-ups, planks, and lunges are also excellent for building foundational strength. Select a weight that challenges you but allows you to maintain proper form.
As a beginner, aim for higher repetitions (about 12-15 reps) with moderate weight to build endurance and muscle memory. Gradually increase the weight as you become more comfortable and stronger.
Proper form is crucial to prevent injuries and ensure you’re effectively working the intended muscles. Consider working with a trainer initially to learn the correct techniques.
Pay attention to your body’s signals; discomfort is normal, but pain is a sign to stop and reassess. Strength training goes hand-in-hand with nutrition and recovery.
Fuel your body with a balanced diet rich in protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats to support muscle growth and recovery. Ensure you’re getting enough rest between workouts, as muscles grow during recovery periods.
Finally, consistency is key. Strength training requires time and patience to see results.
Keep yourself motivated by tracking your progress, setting small achievable goals, and celebrating your successes.
Is 10 minutes of strength training enough?
Yes, 10 minutes of strength training can be effective, especially for beginners, or when done consistently. Short, focused sessions are better than none and can be used to target specific muscle groups or for high-intensity circuit training.
Should women do cardio or strength training?
Women should ideally do both cardio and strength training. Cardio improves cardiovascular health and endurance, while strength training builds muscle, strengthens bones, and boosts metabolism. A balanced fitness routine incorporating both yields the best health benefits.
What age do women peak in strength?
Women typically peak in muscular strength in their 20s. However, this can vary greatly depending on individual fitness levels, training intensity, and genetic factors. Regular training can maintain and even improve strength beyond this age range.
What age should women start strength training?
Women can start strength training at any age. For young girls, it can begin with light, bodyweight exercises focusing on technique and form. As they grow older, they can gradually incorporate more resistance. Starting strength training early helps in building a strong foundation for bone density and muscle mass.
Strength training has become a powerful tool in enhancing women’s quality of life. It has led many to a stronger, more toned body, boosted my metabolism, and significantly improved overall health.
By continually challenging myself and staying committed to my goals, I have no doubt that all can reach the aspirations they only dreamed about.