When it comes to overall health and function, there are three strength training exercises every woman should perform regularly: the squat, deadlift, and the overhead press.
All three of these lifts are “compound lifts” which means they are exercises that require more than one joint. Each activates large muscle groups and requires your body to perform a basic function human function such as a hip-hinge or press.
It should also be noted that each of these exercises is great not only for building core strength, but also for burning fat. As they each require large muscle groups, more energy is needed to perform them compared to an isolated exercise like a leg curl or tricep push down.
These three exercises will help build lean muscle which will also speed up your resting metabolism. Remember, weightlifting is more important than cardio for fat loss!
Squats work the entire lower body, from the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes down to the calves and muscles of the lower leg (not to mention your core).
Foot position in the squat can change which muscles perform the majority of the work. For example, by spreading the feet out in a wide stance and/or pointing out the toes the glutes and inner thighs (adductors) become more involved.
A closer stance with toes pointed forward requires more work from the quads/front of your legs.
No matter what type of squat you perform, whether a back squat, front squat, or bodyweight squat, keep your feet flat on the ground, push through the heels of your feet, and try to keep your knees pressing outward.
In its most basic form, the deadlift is a primal movement that is simply lifting a heavy object off the ground.
The deadlift targets your entire posterior chain, the muscles of the back, glutes and hamstrings.
Remember that the deadlift is a hip-hinge movement and requires different form than your basic squat.
As with the squat, your foot position alters which muscles are worked hardest. A sumo deadlift is done with a wide stance with toes pointing out requiring more force and work from the glutes. The classic deadlift, with feet about shoulder width apart, feet facing forward, still activates the glutes, but transfers more of that work to the hamstrings and quads as well.
The Shoulder Press
The shoulder press is a fantastic exercise that targets not only the shoulders and triceps, but the muscles of the upper back and core as well.
It’s a critical exercise for building upper body and core strength while improving posture and burning fat.
We recommend performing the shoulder press in a standing position with a barbell or dumbbells in order to reap the most functional benefits.
There are many variations of these three movements. Incorporate them into your weekly routine and try to hit each of them at least once a week. Your body will thank you!