Women need strength exercises to primarily build muscle, burn fat, improve bone density and tone your body. And, building muscle will not get you bulky! But, it will give you the shapely, toned body you want.
One way to build muscle mass is through heavy weight lifting. “Heavy” is relative to your body weight and strength. According to the research, doing this type of weight lifting will give you exercise-induced testosterone increases. Of course, this will help you build muscle mass.
So, how much weight is heavy enough? Your repetition range for exercises should be between 3-5 (you would have a difficult time lifting these repetitions). You would typically do 4-5 sets of each exercise.
Rotate heavy lifting days with light lifting days (10-12 reps per exercise, 3-4 sets). Do circuit weight training with the lighter weights (little or no rest between sets). You will need more rest between sets when you lift heavy (1-2 minutes rest between sets).
Strength exercises for fat loss should focus on maximizing your time at the gym. Build more muscle mass to speed up your metabolism and burn more fat.
To recruit more muscle fibers during workouts and improve your success, focus more on MULTI-JOINT OR COMPOUND EXERCISES.
COMPOUND EXERCISES will help you burn more fat because you are working large muscle groups in your body. You will also burn more calories after your workout.
Examples of SINGLE-JOINT EXERCISES are biceps curl, seated calf raise, leg extension, leg curl and triceps pushdowns. Spend less of your time on these exercises.
Here are my Top 10 Strength Exercises to enhance fat loss and build muscle mass:
1. Squats – Bodyweight, dumbbell, bulgarian split, side, one-legged or barbell….do squats regularly.
2. Romanian DB Deadlift – Deadlift is a must for your exercise program. It is also one of the best ways to build muscle thickness in your lower back. Lower back fat is a problem for many people.
3. One-Arm Alternating Dumbbell Rows – If you’re trying to build up back muscles and burn back fat, bentover dumbbells rows should be in your routine. Bentover dumbbell rows allow you to work your lats using heavier weights. Your lower back will be worked more if you row with both arms at the same time. You will also work your obliques in the process.
4. Pullups – The pullup is not just a back muscle exercise. Pullups work your lats (and other back muscles), core, shoulders, arms, chest, biceps and improve grip strength. That’s why you should be doing pullups! You can use a stool to spot yourself and give yourself a little help as you work up to doing 5-8 repetitions per set. Start with 1 if needed.
5. Clock Lunges with Dumbbells – Clock lunges work your body in all planes of motion. Lunge with your right leg at 12 o’clock, 2 o’clock, 3 o’clock, 5 o’clock and 6 o’clock. That’s 1 repetition for your right leg.
Lunge with your left leg at 12 o’clock, 10 o’clock, 9 o’clock, 7 o’clock and 6 o’clock. That’s 1 repetition for left leg. Maintain upright posture throughout to improve core strength.
6. Dumbbell Chest Press on Ball – Doing the chest press on the ball forces you to balance while lifting. Each arm also has to do equal work. Regular bench press is always an option.
7. Standing Barbell or Dumbbell Shoulder Press – Doing an exercise on your feet (closed-chain) activates more muscles and that’s what you want. The standing shoulder press will not only work your shoulders and arms but will also activate your core muscles. And, since you are standing, your lower body also has to do some work.
8. Step Ups with knee lift on Knee-High Platform – The step up is one of the best exercises to strengthen your glutes and tone your leg muscles. Weakness in the gluteus medius can result in knee and back injuries. Weakness in the gluteus medius also contributes to instability when you walk, run and jump.
9. Pushups on Medicine Ball – This exercise will really challenge your chest, arms, shoulders and core muscles. Don’t let your butt sag during the exercise!
10. Triceps Bar Dips – One of the best upper body exercises. Don’t lean forward on descent.
Build major muscle mass and watch your body begin to shape and tone like never before!
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Mark Dilworth, BA