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The 5 Most Important Exercises For Female Gym-Goers

The 5 Most Important Exercises For Female Gym-Goers

With the vast range of fitness equipment available at your gym and the bewildering variety of exercise trends and disciplines on offer, it can be difficult to see the wood for the trees and to focus on the basics, when it comes to getting fit.

To get a full body workout, it’s important to perform compound movements, which involve multiple joints and muscles, and this applies equally to both men and women. However, men and women generally differ in their physique, genetics and hormones and may aspire to slightly different goals when they’re pursuing health and fitness.

So here are five simple exercises that women especially can do to get strong and toned, and these may be all you ever need. To keep your workout balanced, it's important to include pulling exercises like rows and pushing exercises like presses. If you follow these exercises consistently, you should start to see noticeable improvements in your strength, stamina and shape as your fitness regime progresses.

The Bench Press

This is an exercise that is overlooked by some women, but it’s a must-do for everyone! Done correctly, the Bench Press is a full- body compound movement and a great way of developing upper body push-strength and muscle tone. It can also help advance the way in which you perform press-ups. However, as the movement can be quite complex and involves balance, we suggest starting solely with a Pump Bar and a bench to work on the motor skills needed to perform the perfect bench press.

Lie on your back on a flat bench. Grip a barbell with hands slightly wider than shoulder-width. Press your feet firmly into the ground and keep your hips on the bench throughout the entire movement. Slowly lower the bar to the chest, allowing elbows to bend out to the side. Stop lowering when elbows are just below the bench. Press feet into the floor as you push the bar back up to return to starting position. Perform 5-10 reps, depending on weight used. Perform up to three sets.

*Top Tip – Try to hug the bench with your shoulder blades and keep your abdominals tight and pressed into the bench to create a stronger foundation from which to build your Bench Press!


The Deadlift

This is a compound movement that strengthens your whole body and improves your postures. It is highly functional and makes things like carrying groceries and picking things up from the floor easier.

Grasp a kettle bell or dumbbell with both hands and hold it in front of your hips with your arms straight. Bend your hips and knees and lower the weight to the floor. Without rounding your back, pull your torso back and up, thrust your hips forward and stand up with the weight to the starting position, squeezing your glutes. Do 3 sets of 10 reps, resting for 60 seconds between each rep.


The Lunge

When it comes to lower body muscular activation, few exercises can compete with the humble lunge. This movement triggers pretty much everything in the thigh and bum area and can allow the user to improve their balance, coordination, strength and lean muscle development. Like most exercises, the lunge can be completed in a range of various ways, so we suggest starting easy with a standard walking lunge and researching alternatives when you're more experienced.

Stand up straight, shoulders back, chin up, hands on hips and feet hip-width apart. Engage your core and take a big step forward with your right leg, shifting your weight forward, so your heel hits the floor first. Lower body until right thigh is parallel to floor and right shin is vertical. If possible, lightly tap left knee to the ground while keeping your weight in your right heel. Press into your right heel to drive back up to the starting position. Repeat on the other side.

*Top Tip – Everyone’s body works slightly differently, so ensure you only work the range of movement that suits you, as this exercise is very dynamic.


The Split Squat

This works multiples muscles - quads, hamstrings, calves, core and glutes and is good for strength, functional movement (e.g. getting up and down from a sitting position) and great muscle tone.

Stand with one foot elevated slightly on a step or box and the other foot on the floor, 2-3 ft. behind with the front knee slightly bent. With hands on hips, slowly lower your body as far as you can with bent knees. Hold for a few seconds, then quickly push back to the starting position. Do 3 sets of 10 reps on each side, resting for a minute between sets.

The Hip Thrust or Glute Bridge

These exercises are great for glute strength and hip health, which are important for all ages. They train the quads and hamstrings as well, making it especially useful for women who want to increase the size of their glutes without significantly altering the size of their legs. A video showing the difference between these exercises can be viewed here youtube

This blog was written with help from fitness instructors/personal trainers, Tom Ward and Cheryl Parker. If you need any advice about performing any of these exercises safely and effectively, please ask for help from your gym’s fitness team.

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