Weight training for women often gets a bad reputation. Many women worry that lifting weights may lead to bulky muscles and therefore avoid strength training. According to the Mayo Clinic, a regular strength training program can reduce body fat, increase lean muscle mass and burn calories more efficiently than cardio alone. So if you have been spending hours on the treadmill or elliptical machine without seeing the results you want, then it may be time to introduce weight training to your gym routine.
Weight Exercise #1: Bench Press
The bench press works your chest, arms and shoulders by engaging your triceps, pectorals and deltoids. To complete this exercise, lie face up on a workout bench holding a barbell with each hand at chest level. Your feet should be planted firmly on the floor. You will want your hands placed shoulder-width apart on the barbell. Slowly push the weight up until your arms are straight but your elbows are not locked. Slowly lower to the starting position for one repetition.
Weight Exercise #2: Chair Squats
This simple exercise works your core, hips, thighs and glutes. Start with feet hip-width apart approximately six inches in front of a chair. Engage your abs as you bend your knees and slowly squat down to the chair. Make sure to keep your knees behind your toes while you are lowering down. Do not actually touch the chair, instead hover and hold for two seconds before standing back up. To increase this challenge, hold a dumbbell in each hand with weights resting at shoulder height. Return to standing for one repetition.
Weight Exercise #3: Lunges
Lunges are quick to master and work all the major muscles in your legs and thighs. Begin with a dumbbell in each hand. Have your hands down by your side with palms facing in. Stand with your left foot forward and your right foot approximately three feet behind. Bend both your knees at the same time to lower your body to the floor. Make sure to keep your left knee behind your toes. Keep your core engaged throughout this exercise to keep your torso straight. Slowly return to standing to complete one repetition. Complete a full set before switching to the other leg.
Weight Exercise #4: Bicep Curls
The basic bicep curl is an excellent exercise that engages both heads of the bicep muscle, helping to create those toned arms many women desire. Stand with legs hip-width apart while holding a barbell with an underhand grip. You will want your palms grasping the barbell at shoulder-width. Begin by holding the barbell down at your thighs with palms facing out. With abs engaged, squeeze your biceps as you bend your arms up towards your shoulders. While bending your arms, make sure to keep your elbows stationary and close to your side to maximize the workout. Slowly return the barbell to the starting position for one repetition.