Your goal weight may seem far off, but don’t sweat it. “The more you weigh, the more calories you burn during easier workouts, like brisk walking,” says Holland. So rather than doing killer workouts from the get-go, small, consistent efforts will help you shed pounds early on—and seeing those quick results will motivate you to stay on track.
Your challenge? Preventing injuries.
“Excess weight makes exercise naturally harder on your joints,” says Tom Holland, author of Beat the Gym. That’s why it’s important to start with basic body-weight exercises (or “training movements,” as he calls them), which put less strain on your body and help you learn proper form. Once you master these fundamental moves, your joints and muscles will be prepped to tackle more-difficult exercises with ease.
Do the workout two or three times a week, completing two sets of each exercise, 12 to 15 reps per set (except where noted) and incorporate the cardio regimen below.
ENDURANCE-BUILDING CARDIO
Slow and steady isn’t just for high school sweethearts; it’s the key to developing endurance, a crucial building block at this weight-loss stage. “Sustained, moderate-intensity cardio helps teach your body to utilize fat as fuel so that over time you begin to burn more of it,” says Holland. “Such activity also slowly introduces your joints to impact, reducing your risk of getting injured.” Two days a week, do 30 to 45 minutes of easy to moderate-intensity cardio (you can walk, use an elliptical machine, hike, bike, or swim–anything that keeps you going for at least 30 minutes). Mix up your routine–bike one day, hike the next–to train different muscles and beat boredom.
SMART BITES
Enhance your weight-loss efforts by following these diet tips from Leslie Bonci, R.D., M.P.H., director of sports nutrition at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and coauthor of Run Your Butt Off!
Take Note
A study found that those who kept daily food logs lost twice as much as those who didn’t. Many people lowball how much they eat–seeing it all in black-and-white can be a reality check.
Find Balance
Experts say that people with a lot of pounds to lose get overwhelmed by counting calories and give up. Keep it simple by divvying your plate into thirds: 1/3 protein, 1/3 vegetables, and 1/3 whole grains.
Swap Smart
Restricting foods can increase your cravings and lead to off-the-wagon binges. Jonesing for a cookie? Have it, but swap it for your afternoon caramel macchiato or pretzels.

Buy The Women’s Health Big Book of Exercises!

1. Body-weight Squat

Stand tall with your feet shoulder-width apart, arms extended straight in front of you at shoulder level. Keeping your chest up, lower your body as far as you can by pushing your hips back and bending your knees. Pause, then slowly push yourself back to the starting position. That’s one rep.

2. Pushup

Place your hands on the floor under your shoulders and extend your legs behind you. Keeping your back flat, lower your chest toward the floor. Push back to start. That’s one rep.

3. Bent-over Row With L-raise

Bend at your hips, lowering your torso and letting your arms hang from your shoulders. This is the starting position. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and raise your arms out to the sides to shoulder height, bending your elbows 90 degrees. Without moving your elbows, rotate your forearms forward as far as you can. Reverse to return to start. That’s one rep.

4. Plank

From a pushup position, bend your elbows and rest your weight on your forearms. Your body should form a straight line from your shoulders to your ankles. Brace your core (as if you were about to be punched in the gut). Hold for 30 seconds. That’s one set.

5. Curtsy Lunge

Stand with your feet hip-width apart, hands on hips. Keep your chest and eyes up, shoulders squared. Cross your right leg behind your left, and bend both knees, lowering your body until your left thigh is nearly parallel to the floor. Return to start and repeat, switching sides.

Money Crashers

When you engage in strength training, the exercises don’t just affect your muscles. According to the American Council on Exercise (ACE), it can also have major effects on your physical health, such as reducing blood pressure, improving cholesterol, and reducing your risk of diabetes. Better yet, it can also improve your ability to perform daily activities, such as lifting boxes or moving household items – all because it improves your strength, coordination, and flexibility.

Traditionally, people strength train with dumbbells and barbells, which you’ll commonly find in fitness centers. But what if you don’t have access to a gym?

Luckily, you can still train at home and reap the benefits of regular strength training – without dumbbells or barbells.

How to Strength Train at Home

To work out at home without traditional equipment such as dumbbells or barbells, use bodyweight exercises to get strong. These are exercises you perform with your own bodyweight – a push-up, for instance.

In addition, you can also incorporate common weightlifting moves, such as overhead squats and deadlifts, by using household items you already own, including weighted water jugs or gym bags. This adds additional weight to the exercise, making it a strength training exercise that continuously challenges your muscles.

If you’re struggling with the same workout routines, look into Aaptiv. They have thousands of workouts available and are adding something new every week.

Items You’ll Need

Before you begin strength training, you’ll need to prepare your strength training items. Here’s what you need at a minimum to do these exercises:

  • An empty gym bag
  • Two empty water jugs
  • Dirt, sand, or kitty litter

Use the dirt, sand, or litter to increase the weight of the gym bag and the water jugs. Only fill them a little to start, since filling them up completely may make them too heavy. Once it becomes easy to do these exercises, you can increase the weight by filling them even more.

Strength Training Exercises

All these exercises work one or more of your muscle groups, which improves your functional strength while also increasing your metabolism. By improving your functional strength, you’ll have a greater ability to do simple tasks, such as lifting heavy boxes or moving furniture. Try doing four or more of these exercises three times a week to start.

1. Overhead Squat

  • Item Needed: A weighted gym bag
  • Muscles Worked: The overhead squat is one of the best full body exercises you can do. It mainly targets the quads, but also targets the glutes, hamstrings, lower back, shoulders, triceps, and the abdominal muscles.

How to Do It
Stand up and hold the gym bag above your head, gripping the bag at the ends. You will hold this position during the entire exercise. Keep your arms straight. Your feet should be slightly wider than shoulder width.

Next, thrust your hips back and begin bending your knees for the squat. Keep your back straight at all times – resist the urge to slouch. Continue descending downward, envisioning that you’re trying to sit back into a small chair.

Once your hips are parallel to your knee joints, hold the position for one second. Now, rise back up into the starting position. This is one repetition. To build strength, aim for a minimum of 5 repetitions, doing no more than 12. Once you can easily do 12 repetitions, it’s time to add weight to the bag.

If you’re unable to bring your hips parallel to your knee joints, start with wall squats to build up strength. Otherwise, not going fully parallel can place stress on your joints and injure your knees. I didn’t go parallel when I first started weightlifting and seriously injured my knee. In fact, I had to lay off lifting for two months to allow it to heal.

2. Deadlift

  • Item Needed: A weighted gym bag
  • Muscles Worked: The deadlift is arguably one of the best lower body exercises, working most of the back, glutes, hamstrings, and quads.

How to Do It
Place the gym bag in front of your feet. Stand behind with both feet close to each other. Bend your knees while pushing your hips back to grab the ends of the gym bag. Make sure your back is straight.

Now bring yourself into a standing position by simultaneously straightening your back and legs. Remember to keep your back straight – do not let it slouch, as this can cause injury. Once assuming the straight stance, stick your chest out and contract your shoulder blades. This is one repetition. Do at least five repetitions to build strength and muscle. Once you can do these repetitions easily, add weight to the bag.

3. Kettlebell Swing

  • Item Needed: A weighted water jug
  • Muscles Worked: This is an excellent lower body strength exercise, which targets the hamstrings, glutes, shoulders, and calves. You may also feel it in your abs.

How to Do It
Grasp the handle of the water jug with both hands and hold it below your pelvis. Keep your arms straight. Lean down, bend your upper body slightly forward, and push your butt out, keeping your back straight. It should look like you’re attempting to squat, but your knees should only be slightly bent. This is the starting position.

Now, using a lot of force, quickly squat back up into a standing position while thrusting the pelvis forward. Keep your arms straight, but don’t use your arms to lift it up. This action acts like a spring for the water jug, propelling the water jug forward. You want your thrust to propel the water jug to chest level. Do not use your arm strength to lift the water jug – your legs and pelvis should only initiate the water jug to move.

Once the water jug reaches chest level, lower your body and push your butt out again into the starting position. This is one rep. Unlike other strength training exercises, you can use a higher rep range with kettlebell swings – aim for 20 repetitions as a general guideline.

4. Single Leg Split Squat

  • Items Needed: Two weighted water jugs, and a coffee table or chair about knee’s height
  • Muscles Worked: Unlike a regular squat, this squat variation puts more emphasis on the glute muscles – these are the muscles that give you a firm, perky bottom. It also works the quads and hamstrings.

How to Do It
To begin, hold a water jug in each hand and keep your arms straight by the sides of your body. Face away from the coffee table or chair. Prop one of your feet on a coffee table or chair so that your toes are resting comfortably on the surface. This is the starting position. One leg should be propped backward onto the coffee table or chair; the other leg should be straight.

Slowly, bend the straight leg down into a squat, making sure the knee doesn’t go past your toes on the chair. The leg propped up on the chair or coffee table should also bend and lower. Continue squatting down until the knee portion of the leg on the chair or coffee table almost touches the floor. Hold it for a second. Return back to the starting position by straightening your front leg. This is one repetition. Do this for at least five repetitions.

5. Hammer Curls

  • Items Needed: Two weighted water jugs
  • Muscles Worked: This move primarily works the biceps, one of the main muscles of the arm.

How to Do It
Hold a water jug in each hand and keep your arms straight by your sides. Keep your wrists straight in line with your arm. This is the starting position.

Slowly, contract your biceps and use your forearm to bring the jugs upward in a curling motion. When your hand almost comes into contact with your arm, stop and hold the position for a second, squeezing the biceps. Gently lower the water jugs back into the starting position. This is one repetition. Continue for 5 to 12 repetitions.

6. Overhead Press

  • Item Needed: A weighted gym bag
  • Muscles Worked: This exercise works your triceps, deltoids, and traps, making it an excellent way to strengthen your arms and back. You also need to tighten your core to successfully complete this exercise.

How to Do It
Stand straight with your feet positioned shoulder-width apart. Push your chest up, as if you’re puffing it out. Grab your gym bag by its ends and position it across your front shoulders so that it’s resting on your collarbone. This is the starting position.

Next, squeeze your glutes – this helps stabilize you – and push the bag up in a straight line. You may have to move your head back while pressing it up to ensure it goes up in a straight line. Hold the gym bag above your head with your arms straight for a couple of seconds before lowering the bag back to your shoulders. This is one repetition. Continue for up to 12 repetitions.

Bodyweight Exercises

Unlike the exercises listed above, you don’t need water jugs or gym bags to complete these exercises. They can be completed with minimal equipment – usually all you need is a chair. If you want to make it harder, however, you can use jugs or bags. Try adding a couple of these exercises to your strength training routine, doing them three times a week.

7. Jump Squat

  • Items Needed: Weighted water jugs (optional)
  • Muscles Worked: This exercise primarily works the quads, followed by the glutes, hamstrings, and calves.

How to Do It
Stand straight and keep your feet positioned shoulder-width apart. Bring your hips backward and bend your knees like you’re trying to sit in a chair. Remember to keep your back straight – it shouldn’t round or slouch forward.

Once your hip joints are parallel to your knees, jump as high as possible and straighten your body, channeling most of the force through the balls of your feet. Upon landing, immediately squat down by bringing your hips backward and bending your knees. This is one repetition. Continue for 5 to 12 repetitions.

To make this exercise more difficult, carry weighted jugs in each hand and keep them at your sides while jumping. In addition, you can hold a weighted jug above your head, which also works out your abs.

8. Push-Up

  • Items Needed: None
  • Muscles Worked: This exercise mainly works the chest, but also works the triceps and shoulders, making it a good upper body exercise.

How to Do It
To start, put your feet and hands on the floor. Keep your hands positioned a little more than shoulder-width part, with your fingertips facing forward. Keep your back straight. This is the starting position.

Next, bend your arms and slowly lower yourself until your chest is just about to touch the floor. Hold the position for a second. After holding it, straighten your arms again to return to the starting position. This is one repetition. Continue for up to 12 repetitions. To make it harder, try placing a gym bag or textbook on your back to add additional weight.

9. Chair Dips

  • Item Needed: A sturdy chair
  • Muscles Worked: It primarily works the triceps, as well as the pectorals and deltoids.

How to Do It
To begin, place a sturdy chair behind you. Face away from the chair seat and put your hands on the edge of the seat, spaced about shoulder-width apart. Keep your arms straight and bend your knees so you’re almost in a seated position in front of the chair. This is the starting position.

Slowly, bend your arms to a 90-degree angle, lowering your entire body. Once you reach this angle, hold it for a second before straightening your arms again and resuming the starting position. This is one repetition. Aim for at least five repetitions to start, but do not exceed a dozen. To increase difficulty, place a heavy textbook or gym bag in your lap.

10. Crunches

  • Items Needed: None
  • Muscles Worked: This exercise primarily works the abs.

How to Do It
To start, lie on a smooth, hard surface with your back on the ground. Keep your legs bent and place your hands on your chest or behind your head. This is the starting position.

Now imagine you’re pulling your belly button back into your spine. Contract your abdominal muscles and raise your shoulder blades during the contraction. Keep your neck straight and do not use your hands to pull your neck forward. Hold this position for a couple of seconds. You should feel a slight burn in your abs.

Slowly lower your back down into the starting position. This is one repetition. Continue for up to 12 repetitions. To make it harder, hold something heavy on your chest, such as a textbook or gym bag.

Final Word

Strength training is a good idea for everybody. For the best results, try intermixing the strength training exercises with bodyweight exercises, and do them three times a week at most. More isn’t necessarily better when it comes to strength training – in fact, too much training can damage your strengthening process. If you also want to improve your cardiovascular health or lose weight, consider adding cardiovascular exercise, such as walking or running, which helps you burn fat.

Of course, a good weight loss diet plan helps too – preferably a calorie-controlled program comprised of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein.

Do you make strength training a priority? If not, what’s holding you back from getting regular resistance exercise?

(photo credit: )

The 12 BEST Strength Exercises for Women

Our next women’s only beginners groups start in November!

There is an incredible female movement going on at DSC!

It is allowing women to step out of their comfort zone and into a world of better confidence, strength, and fitness.

It is helping women from a variety of fitness backgrounds get into a consistent workout routine.

That movement is our Women’s Only Beginners Group Training and I could not be more proud.

Two and a half years ago we started the first ever DSC Women’s Group.

We knew women wanted to look and feel better.

We knew they wanted to get into a consistent routine.

We also knew that working out alone or starting a new program can be extremely intimidating.

That is exactly why we created our Women’s Beginners Group Training Program.

Our first group started with 8, hard-working ladies and we had a blast.

Fast-forward to today and our program now consists of 4 classes and over 100 inspiring women.

We are so proud of these ladies for stepping out of their comfort zone and they are seeing some incredible results like Kathleen, Colleen, Deb, Ginger, Priscilla, and Barbara.

One of the biggest reasons our women have been so successful is that we make getting stronger a priority.

Increasing strength in females is crucial for:

  • Building muscle and tone
  • Shredding fat
  • Improving bone health
  • Building confidence
  • Improving flexibility
  • Reducing injury, aches & pains

To get you started, today we are covering our 10 favorite strength exercises for women.

Enjoy!

#1 Goblet Squat

Quite possibly the most important movement you can do. A proper squat demonstrates you have adequate range-of-motion of your ankles, knees and hips and solid lower-body strength. Many women come in thinking they cannot squat because of previous knee pain. By keeping the range-of-motion small and teaching them proper technique, it is not long before they are squatting pain-free, with weights!

Key Points:

  • Start feet shoulder width with toes slightly pointed out
  • Stay tall with stomach braced throughout
  • Initiate movement by sitting back and pushing knees out
  • Go as low as you can with no pain and good neutral spine position
  • Finish tall with glutes squeezed
  • Start with 2-3 sets of 8 reps

#2 Push-Up

One area that most women want to improve upon is upper-body strength. Our favorite exercise to improve just that is the push-up. Focus on this exercise and not only will your arms tone but you will build one solid core! If new to the push-up, be sure to start from and elevated position and work closer to the floor as your strength improves.

Key Points:

  • Start hands directly under shoulders
  • Keep straight line from head to heels
  • Keep glutes squeezed and hips tucked
  • Lower entire body until arms are parallel with body
  • Keep arms back at 45 degree angle
  • Start with 3 sets of 6-10 reps

#3 Wall-Press Dead-Bug

The dead-bug is one of our favorite ab exercises here at Dynamic. It is a great way to build anterior ab strength and is great for all levels. We use them in our warm-ups, strength circuits and even as part of our cardio finishers.

Key Points:

  • Start with hands on wall and low back flat to floor
  • Keep hands pressing into wall
  • Lift legs to 90 degrees, knees bent
  • Slowly reach one leg out, pause and exhale through mouth
  • Press low back into floor as you exhale
  • You should feel abs working
  • Start with 3 sets of 5 reps/leg

#4 Inverted Row

Rows are a crucial exercise for keeping your shoulders healthy and improving the strength of your upper-back. We love the inverted over other traditional rowing exercises because they incorporate your entire body and are also great for building core strength. Talk about a win-win!

Key Points:

  • Start with straight line from head to heals, arms straight
  • Initiate movement by pulling shoulder blades towards each other
  • Pull yourself up, finishing arms in line with body
  • Finish by lowering yourself to starting position
  • Start with 3 sets of 8-10 reps

#5 KB Swing

Kettlebell swings are a staple for many of our members. The dynamic, fast paced motion makes the swing a great exercise for getting your heart-rate up and burning calories. The majority of the work comes from your hips, hamstrings and glutes making the swing a great choice for individuals with bad knees, feet and ankles. The hamstrings and glutes are two of the most important stabilizers of the knee so strengthening these two muscles is a must for improving knee pain.

Key Points:

  • Before trying the KB swing, be sure to master the Kettlebell Deadlift or RDL first
  • Make sure all the work is done through your hips
  • Keep posture strong and tall throughout
  • At the top position, finish tall with glutes squeezed and legs straight
  • Start with 8-10 swings followed by :30-:45 of rest for 6-10 rounds

#6 Anti-Rotation Press

The anti-rotation press is our favorite exercise for that typically tough to hit area of your lateral oblique. By pressing the band out, your lateral obliques need to work double time to prevent yourself from rotating.

Key Points:

  • Set up in athletic position, feet shoulder width apart
  • Start cable handle or band at chest level with fingers interlocked
  • Brace abs throughout
  • Press handle or band out front so arms extend straight
  • Hold for a long exhale and feel abs tighten then return to starting position
  • Start with 3 sets of 8-10 reps/side

#7 Split-Squat

Our second favorite lower-body strength exercise is the split-squat. Like the squat, the split squat is great for improving lower-body strength and mobility. We increase the challenge here by putting you on one leg which helps to improve balance and flexibility and strength. Our women’s group members master this exercises before moving on to more advanced exercises like lunges.

Key Points:

  • Start in a long lunge position with front foot flat and back heel up
  • Lower yourself straight down, keep straight line from back knee to head
  • Keep weight in front foot
  • Without allowing front knee to drift forward, go as low as possible without
  • pain or losing position
  • Push through front foot to return to starting position
  • Start with 2-3 sets of 8 reps/side

#8 Planks (front and side)

When is comes to ab training, the plank is number one on our list! It challenges your abs and obliques to work to stabilize both your spine and pelvis. This is a great teaching tool for how to brace and how your posture should be while doing just about every other strength and cardio exercise. Getting good at planks will have a great impact on your posture, strength and performance.

Key Points (front plank)

  • Start on elbows with fists directly under your eyes
  • Keep straight line from head to heels
  • Keep hips tucked under and glutes squeezed
  • Focus on long exhales through your mouth
  • Start with 3 sets of :10-:30 holds/side

Key points (side plank):

  • Start on side with elbow directly under shoulder
  • Keep hips squared and high
  • Keep straight line from head to heels
  • Keep hips tucked under and glutes squeezed
  • Focus on long exhales through your mouth
  • You should feel lateral ab or side
  • Start with 3 sets of :10-:30 holds/side

Ready to take your planks to the next level? Click HERE for 5 new and challenging plank variations!

#9 Sled Push

The sled push is one of our FAVORITE lower-body strength exercises. It is great for our members who come in with bad backs, knees and/or shoulders. The controlled, concentric-only leg action places much less stress on the knees than traditional lower-body exercises like squats and lunges. They are great for getting your heart-rate up and burning fat, but also great for building some serious lower-body strength — a great way to improve and prevent lower-limb pain.

Key points:

  • Keep arms straight and straight line head to back foot
  • Keep body leaning at 45 degree angle
  • March forward one step at a time keeping head and upper body still
  • Start with 3-5 reps of 15-25yd march with :30-1:00 rest between reps

#10 Ball Rollout

Get ready for some ab soreness! These are one of the toughest exercises for your core as you have to work extremely hard to hold your spine in a good position as you rollout. If you are new to these, start with a small range-of-motion and work to a larger motion over time.

Key Points:

  • Start on knees with forearms on ball
  • Have hips tucked under, glutes squeezed and abs braced throughout
  • Start motion by letting ball rollout up arms
  • Your hips and head should move together towards the ball
  • Maintain a straight line from head to knees throughout
  • Go as low as possible without losing spine position and return
  • Start with 2-3 sets of 6-10 reps

#11 Farmer Carry

The farmer carry is a favorite amongst our members. Think of these as a weighted and moving plank. Walking with weights is a great way to improve the strength of your grip, shoulders, core and hips. Carries challenge you to control your spine and aid in improving core stability and even improve cardio and fat-loss by elevating your heart-rate.

Key Points:

  • Start with 2 kettlebells or dumbells in hands
  • Squeeze weights hard and stay tall
  • Keep shoulders back and abs braced
  • Do not allow weights to move around
  • Start with 3 sets of 40-50 yd walks

#12 Pause Bear Crawl

Think of the pause bear crawl as a more challenging, moving plank. We love crawls here at Dynamic as they work to strengthen and stabilize the entire torso. The movement at your hips and shoulders challenges your abs to stabilize your spine, rib cage and pelvis. Not only do these work your abs and shoulders but they are great for getting your heart-rate up and burning some serious calories! Be sure to master the front plank before adding the bear crawl to your routine.

Key Points:

  • Start on all fours with hands placed under shoulders and knees under hips
  • Start by lifting knees off ground
  • Progress forward by moving opposite arm and leg at same time no more than 3″
  • Pause in between each rep
  • Keep abs braced and do not let low back or trunk move
  • Also move backwards to increase the challenge
  • Start with 2-3 sets of 5-10yds

As a first timer at the gym, it can be scary. As a woman, it can be really intimidating. Because of the gym stigma, the lack of knowledge and for most women, lack of confidence, it can be difficult to get yourself out there to workout.

You shouldn’t have to feel this way at all! So we’ve gathered our best tips below to help you get started. It’s really all about having the right mindset, knowing where to start, what will make you feel comfortable and seeking help when required.

What should a beginner do at the gym?

The gym is an intimidating place to be if you’ve never been before. With that being said, it’s important to be mentally prepared before heading in for the first time. At Crunch, we like to make the gym a really comfortable and safe place to do your workouts. But sometimes it can be a little tough to motivate yourself to head in!

Here are a few pointers that will help you feel comfortable if it’s your first time or early days at the gym:

  • Before heading in, remind yourself that going to the gym is for you and only you!
  • You’ll realise everyone is just as self-conscious as you are. It’s called the “spotlight effect” where you feel that everyone is looking at you but really they’re wondering the exact same thing! So just focus on yourself and you’ll soon realise…everyone else is as well not on you!
  • Everyone at the gym has started somewhere. You’re not the first person who has been a beginner. Like most people, they definitely would’ve been in the same position you are now.
  • Keep your headphones in and create a playlist that makes you feel good and motivated. It’s easy to zone everyone out once you plug some music in and start concentrating on yourself.

The hardest part of heading into the gym is actually going. So schedule it and put some of your best workout gear that you feel good in. Once you’re there, that is 80% of the hard work done!

What equipment and exercises are best for women beginners?

If you’ve never picked up weights or done any form of physical exercise, start slow. A great suggestion is to jump onto the treadmill. You can start by doing a slow walk for 10-15 mins which will introduce yourself to cardio. This will help you ease yourself at the gym, especially if you see people who are confident working out already, it can be a little scary!

If the treadmill is something you’re not familiar with, ask someone or a trained professional like a personal trainer. Properly learning how to use any equipment at the gym, like weight machines or any of the cardio equipment, is important so that you don’t hurt or injure yourself.

If cardio is something that is too much at first because it’s tiring or you don’t have the confidence, you can start by setting yourself up in a quiet area of the gym and do some stretches. At this point, it’s about getting familiar with the setting, the environment and being relaxed with yourself.

How long should you workout for if you’re a beginner?

As a beginner you don’t want to push yourself too much, so start with however long you feel comfortable with. Go at a pace that suits your fitness level. A great time to start with is 30 mins. Once you’ve started going regularly you’ll probably start incorporating weight training into your routine which will change how long you workout for. It also will be influenced by your fitness goals whether be to lose weight, gain muscle or improving your endurance.

How many days should I workout?

Many people start going to the gym for a number of different reasons. The most important thing to remember is that consistency is key. For any beginner forming a regular gym routine or habit is really vital to keeping up with your fitness goals. Pick a time that is realistic for you to go whether it is in the morning before work, lunchtime or after work. If you’re a busy person, making time for the gym is critical to sticking to your fitness goals.

Here are some easy beginner gym workout routines for females

To make things easier for you, we’ve listed some easy beginner gym workout routines that you can try. As always, if you’re not feeling confident, seek help from one of our friendly Crunch staff members or our personal trainers who can guide you in the right direction.

Depending on what your goals and fitness levels are will determine what will suit you best. These suggestions should be used as a guide.

Cardio workout routines for beginners

  • You can try treadmills, elliptical machines, stationary bikes, the stair climbers and rowers. Each of these machines can start on a low-intensity setting so that you can get familiar with them first.
  • Begin with 15 minutes of cardio and then when you’re comfortable, start gradually increasing the time as well as the intensity.
  • For women who are older than 40, it’s natural for your bone density to decrease due to hormonal changes. Cardio exercise is fantastic to promote bone growth because you’re on your feet.

Beginner strength training routines

  • A full body workout routine can comprise of shoulder presses, back rows, leg curls, crunches, chest presses and leg presses. These are basic starter exercises, consult with a personal trainer if you’re unsure how to do them.
  • To start with, female beginners should try to perform 2-3 sets with 8-10 repetitions. Definitely start with light weights so that you can build into heavier weights.
  • Women naturally possess lower levels of muscle-building hormones so weight training is fantastic because it helps increase muscle, speeds your metabolic rate and helps with bone density.

At the end of your workout, don’t forget to do some stretching. Especially if you sit at a desk all day, your muscles can become tight. Performing stretches after a workout is ideal because by then, your muscles would have warmed up already.

Ready to conquer the gym?

If you need some words of wisdom, we happened to ask a few of our Crunch personal trainers and expert fitness professionals on how women can conquer the gym. Do yourself a favour and read some insight motivational tips from these experts to get you started.

The next step? Get in touch with one of our friendly Crunch staff members who can set you up with a session to get you started or enquire about one of our heart-pumping classes that can help you feel more comfortable in a group training setting if you’re not ready for solo training.

Hit The Gym With Confidence Using This Beginner Workout Plan For Women

When you’re new to the gym it’s very easy to stay in your comfort zone, hitting your cardio machine of choice for a bit then sliding right on out of there. There’s nothing wrong with a cardio workout, of course, but do the same thing over and over again you’re unlikely to experience any benefits and you’re likely to get hella bored – a surefire combo to start you skipping sessions and regret joining every time you see the direct debit go out.

To avoid that fate follow this simple workout plan from Magnus Lygdback, who trained Alicia Vikander ahead of her role as Lara Croft in Tomb Raider.

“If you’re new to the gym it’s important to build up the fundamentals,” says Lygdback. “Make sure you keep good form and don’t go too hard. But the philosophy remains the same for me whether you’re a beginner or more advanced. If you want to tone up and build some muscle mass I’m a big fan of a three-split programme. You work through your whole body in three days.”

How To Follow This Workout Plan

Lygdback’s plan involves doing three 45-60 minute sessions. Every workout starts with 15 minutes of high-intensity interval training (HIIT), before moving on to strength exercises that target different areas of the body for 30-45 minutes.

“HIIT is always a good idea, whether you’re a beginner or not,” says Lydgback. “I always start the first ten to 15 minutes of my session with some intervals. It could be on a treadmill, a rower or a bicycle. Warm up for five minutes, then do 60 seconds at your maximum capacity, then rest for 60 seconds. As a beginner I’d do that three to five times.”

The workouts should be done in the order listed below for best results, but you don’t have to do them on set days each week.

“I will let my life determine when I work out,” says Lygdback. “Personally I’m on a four-split programme and I just keep that rolling. Sometimes I rest on a Wednesday, sometimes I rest two days in a row on the weekend, and sometimes I work through the weekend. I listen to my body and let life dictate a little, because we all have a life outside of the gym!”

When it comes to the strength sections of the workouts it’s important to work the target areas from all angles, but Lygdback suggests it’s not vital to have an exact list of exercises to follow when you walk into the gym. Lygdback has suggested some exercises for each of the workouts but make sure you mix it up and target the muscles from different angles each time. You’ll find plenty of options on our exercise guide pages.

For each workout, Lygdback recommends five or six exercises, doing three sets of high numbers of reps – 20 for exercises where you alternate the main limbs involved, like lunges, and 15 for non-alternating exercises like front squats. For all exercises he recommends mastering the form first before worrying about how much weight you use.

“Form is number one,” says Lygdback. “Weight is secondary. Never push the weight and never compromise on good form.” If you’re unsure, ask one of the PTs at the gym – that’s what they’re there for.

Workout One: Legs And Core

After your 15 minutes of HIIT concentrate your session on the legs and core, making sure to hit all the major muscle groups in the legs as well as your glutes.

“A goblet squat is a very good exercise for beginners,” says Lygdback. “Hold a kettlebell or a dumbbell in front of your chest and then do a regular squat. The reason for the weight in front of your body is that you activate the core and the lower back, because you make those muscles fire before you squat.

“I’m also big fan of lunges, which work the back side of the legs, the hamstrings and glutes. And also skater jumps, which work your fast-twitch muscle fibres and activate the small glute muscle fibres as well. That’s a nice little combo anyone can do.”

RECOMMENDED: Leg Exercises | Core Exercises

Workout Two: Back, Shoulders And Core

“On day two I would say work your back, shoulders and core again, but maybe the obliques with more rotational movements instead of the inner core muscles,” says Lygdback.

“I would do one straight pull, like a lat pull-down. You can’t expect anyone to do a pull-up in the beginning. Then a rowing exercise. There are so many options, from a standing dumbbell row to a sitting row with a cable machine. Then something else for the back, to change the direction of pulling. Then for the fourth exercise some kind of reverse flye to activate the rhomboids and shoulders. Then work the outside shoulders with the fifth exercise, something like a lateral raise.”

RECOMMENDED: Back Exercises | Shoulder Exercises | Core Exercises

Workout Three: Chest And Arms

“After interval training move on to the chest, then the biceps and triceps,” says Lygdback.

“For the chest it could be press-ups, chest press or bench press – anything where you’re pushing. And then biceps curls and triceps press-downs. Just switch it up. The most important thing is to work the right muscles.”

RECOMMENDED: Chest Exercises | Arm Exercises | Biceps Exercises | Triceps Exercises

Tomb Raider is out now on Blu-ray and DVD

The Ultimate Beginner’s Machine Workout For Women

If you’re a woman just starting out in the gym, you may be feeling intimidated. Not only is the array of machines overwhelming, but most gyms are replete with muscular men who look like they’ll crush anything in their way—including you.

If this describes how you feel, you’re not alone; many women can identify. But if you’re willing to take a tiny step beyond your comfort barrier, you’ll be on the road to some fantastic fitness progress.

Let’s review some of the key points you need to know to design a machine workout that will get you started on a weightlifting regimen.

1. Kiss: Keep It Simple, Sister

First, keep your workout as simple as possible. Your objective at this point is to get the muscles used to the stress of the weight lifting stimulus and prepare yourself for more advanced programs.

Since you’re new to the concept of weightlifting, your body will respond quickly to even basic exercises. So progress will happen quickly. Track these changes for motivation—it’s called positive reinforcement!

Since you’re new to the concept of weightlifting, your body will respond quickly to even basic exercises

Machine weight training is great because the apparatus helps you through the correct pattern of movement with no stress on your part. You won’t have to worry about proper form as much as you would with free weights. Machine exercises will also help you get comfortable in the gym.

2. Focus On Form

At this stage, the goal is not to lift as much as possible. You don’t need to be concerned with personal bests. For now, get comfortable and ensure you’re performing each exercise correctly.

While the machine will guide you through proper form, there are still some things you need to be careful about.

One, make sure your back is pressed flat into the bench or back pad in machine exercises like the leg press, chest press and shoulder press. And two, don’t hyperextend your knees or elbows as you do the shoulder press, horizontal chest press, horizontal row, triceps press-down or leg extension.

3. Don’t Push Far Beyond Your Comfort Zone

Work hard, but not so hard that your comfort zone disappears and you want to quit. If you leave the gym feeling exhausted because you worked so hard, you may develop negative feelings toward working out.

Obviously, you should avoid feeling bad about working out. Instead of feeling exhausted, you should leave the gym feeling energized and excited about your next workout.

There’s a difference between challenging yourself and pushing yourself to the limit. Save the extreme workouts for after you have a solid training base. Then knock yourself out.

4. Remember To Rest

Finally, rest enough to recover. This is a critical part to success with any training program, but some beginners tend to overlook it.

Leave at least one day between each of your full-body machine weightlifting sessions. If you’re just starting out and know that you have a slower recovery system, rest for two days.

More rest beats not enough rest, so make sure you’re fully recovered and feeling great each time you step in the gym.

As long as you get in at least two workouts per week, you will start seeing fitness improvements and more lean muscle mass. If you can do three sessions, excellent! But don’t force yourself if you feel like you could use another day off.

On To The Program

So now that you know the key components of what makes for a successful machine workout, you’re ready to get in the gym and follow a full program!

Beginner Machine Workouts for Women Program Follow this full program in BodyFit Elite! You’ll get a customizable workout tracker and app, with demonstration videos for all movements. Earn free shipping and store discounts, plus access to 70+ additional programs! GO NOW

Women workouts with weights

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