Designing a Basic Strength Training Workout for Women

Feb 18 08:55 2010 Catherine McCloud Print This Article

Designing a basic, complete and yet short strength training program for women (45 minutes maximum) is possible by working muscles simultaneously. To accomplish this we need to understand that our body movements can be broken down into 3 very general patterns and then focus on the appropriate "compound" movements that work the most muscles.

Designing a basic,Guest Posting complete and yet short strength training program for women (45 minutes maximum) is possible by working muscles simultaneously.  This can be achieved by focusing on the big "multi-joint"-type of movements that involve more than one joint at a time.  This just means that during any given exercise two or more joints will be in motion.  For example a tricep kickback only moves one joint (the elbow) while an overhead press (commonly called Military Press) incorporates both your shoulders and your elbows.  This difference is important because execises that require motion in more than one joint, necessitate movement in multiple muscle groups.  For example a bicep curl only works the bicep.  Whereas a standing overhead shoulder will work work almost your entire body from your chest, shoulders, triceps and even your core as it stabilizes your body.  That's alot of muscles and that is exactly why you won't need to stay in the gym long.

In daily life our body moves as a single entity and so it makes no sense to train it one piece at a time. To accomplish this we need to understand that our body movements can be broken down into 3 very general patterns: we can use our arms to push, pull things with our arms and push things with our legs.
Pushing Exercises

"Pushing" exercises principally work the chest, shoulder and tricep muscles.   The bench press and its variations, such as incline, decline and dumbbell, is probably the most common pushing exercises.  If you want to do bench, that is fine.  If not, my favorite pushing exercise doesn't need a bench at all .  The standing Military press is tops in my book .  By getting up on your feet you force your core and legs to stabilize your body unlike a bench press where your body is supported by the bench itself.

Pulling Exercises

There should be a “pulling” exercise for the musculature in the back, and yet the back is one of the best places to carry a little extra muscle without looking bulky.   Pulling exercises are also necessary to balance the pushing exercises.  The queen of all pulling exercises is the chinup/pullup.  However, most women aren’t yet capable of doing pull-ups.  I only just recently completed my first one ever and I have been training for a while.   An assisted pullup machine is an ok substitute.  It allows you to pull up only a portion of your weight, but being a machine it locks you into one path of motion and takes away all the strength benefits that come with stabilizing yourself. 

Rubber strength bands could also be used for pullup assistance.  Some other pulling exercises might include wide pull downs, low pulls, tight pulls, one armed rows, bent over rows, t-bar rows, etc.  Preferentially, you should choose non-machine exercises, but all these exercises work the muscles on your back, your grip and your biceps.

Leg Exercises

Finally, we can’t finish off the workout without a some leg exercise.  Squat variations include: back squats, front squats, dumbbell squats, lunges, leg press, step ups, side step ups, box squats,etc.  Deadlifts are also one of the best leg exercises for strength without bulk and includes a grip and pulling component.   All of these exercises will work your glutes, quads and hamstrings (your butt, and the front and back of your thighs) which are the three biggest muscle groups in your body.  To get the most out of any strength training workout you have to hit your legs.  

By focusing on big exercises in each of the push, pull and leg groups, you will be able to complete an effective, full-body strength workout in under 45 minutes.

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Catherine McCloud
Catherine McCloud

Designing your own program can be daunting and many beginners fair better by sticking to one of these professionally designed Strength Training Routines for Women.

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