Celebrate Women's Day with Fitness
The month of March brings us International Women’s Day, so we’ve decided to celebrate it with a bit of woman-centric fitness. How does fitness differ between women and men?
For all practical purposes, it doesn’t. Any exercise that will benefit a man will benefit a woman, and vice versa. That being said, women do tend to have particular goals in mind that are different from those of sought after by men. For example, many men emphasize growing the size of their biceps while many women prefer to focus on toning their bottom.
To these ends, let’s take a look at five workouts that can help women achieve a variety of their fitness goals.
Cable Side Bends
A lot of women are trying to achieve a tight core, but all too often they work on their abs without giving attention to their obliques, the muscles along the sides of the lower torso. Few things hit these key spots like cable side bends.
- Drop the pulley on the cable machine down to the lowest position, then attach a one-handed grip.
- Stand with the pulley at your side and grip the handle. Bend slowly at the waist, making sure to keep your lower body straight up and down, then return to starting position.
This can also be performed with a dumbbell rather than the cable machine, but I prefer the cable because it maintains consistent pressure, and allows you to adjust the weight easily.
Are you looking to tone your arms and avoid the much-feared “bat wings”? Forget about doing endless curls for your biceps. What you really want is to build your triceps, which comprise two-thirds of your upper arm. Few things accomplish this better than the intensely-named skullcrushers.
- Choose a relatively light barbell, then lay back on a bench.
- Holding the barbell above you as if you’re preparing to do a bench press, slowly bend your elbows to bring the bar down toward your forehead.
- When it’s about an inch above your head, extend your elbows to lift back to starting position.
The key is to start light then work up in weight. Go too heavy, and you risk a sudden lesson in where this workout gets its name.
Stability Ball Press
For women who are looking to lift and perk up their breasts, the goal is to tone and build the underlying chest muscles. To that end, we have the stability ball press. This is a great alternative to the bench press as it provides more range of motion, and requires you to work out a lot of little stabilizer muscles throughout your upper torso.
- Position the stability ball in the center of your back, right beneath your chest.
- Take two dumbbells of manageable weight, then essentially do the same motion you would for a bench press. The only difference is that you can and should bring your elbows down further than you would with a barbell in the way.
Barbell Hip Thrusts
As we’ve already mentioned the bottom, that’s as good a place to start as any. Barbell hip thrusts are without a doubt one of the best workouts for your posterior chain, which is made up of your glutes, hamstrings and lower back.
- Rest your upper back on a bench then bridge your back with your knees bent at 90 degrees.
- Place the barbell across your hips (using padding around the bar if necessary), drop your butt down as far as you can without slipping off the bench, then thrust your hips upwards, remembering to clench your glutes at the top.
Jump Rope HIIT Circuit
If you’re looking to burn fat, few methods are as effective as the High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), which involves increasing and slowing down the pace of a cardio workout through a variety of means. This can involve alternating between sprinting and walking, running on an incline then jogging on a flat surface, or, my favourite, a jump rope session that is broken up by various body or weighted exercises.
You’ll tailor this to your goals, but here’s an example of a circuit that burns fat while focusing on the glutes and legs:
- Jump rope for 1 minute, 10 bodyweight squats, jump rope for 1 minute, 10 lunges, jump rope for 1 minute, 10 calf raises, jump rope for 1 minute,
- 10 hip thrusts
- Repeat this three times, and you’ve just gotten 12 minutes of intense cardio along with 40 reps of each workout. While a workout that clocks in at less than 20 minutes might not sound like much, trust me – you will feel it.