WHAT DO I KNOW ABOUT WOMEN?
Not much, but I hope the learning curve will shorten soon. I do have two daughters who work out, hike, climb mountains and look great! My workouts with women have been instructive. Many are quite dedicated, many are less so. Most use less resistance than men, though there are exceptions. Some are justifiably proud of what they have attained physically, others are in the beginning stages. Some still believe that they will become “bulky” if they use weighted resistance, but others understand that lean muscle mass will do the opposite – that fat is the culprit.
One former friend and veteran figure skater told me soon after we met that she “never worries” about gaining weight as she ages. She was true to her word. She power – walked every day, played golf without a cart, did water aerobics, ate very carefully and continued to look fantastic. Discipline! And confidence from that discipline.
So…no Venus vs. Mars approach here, except differences that my research may uncover. The goals of better fitness, better health and an improved appearance have no gender borderlines to my knowledge.
My goals is to present about 10 resistance sets within 4 categories. These will be full body programs and can be increased in intensity as progress allows. The categories are:
- Resistance cords
There will also be the assumption that at least 30 minutes of cardio work will be added after the resistance programs. Also, the resistance “modalities” may be integrated together if desired.
Here is a menu from which to choose a routine (and sets and reps) based on your needs and preferences:
- Squats – for the lower body and core (since abdominals are activated to squat correctly)
- Push – ups – for your upper body. Begin on your knees if necessary.
- Lying hip raise – lie on the floor, knees bent and at 90 degrees. Thrust your hips upward to engage back and core.
- Planks – support yourself on the floor by elbows and toes. Maintain this isometric position for 30 seconds or more.
- Spinal balance – on hands and knees, extend your right arm and left leg. Return and then extend left arm and right leg.
- Leg lifts – with back on floor and legs slight bent, raise legs and return to position slightly above floor. For lower abs.
- Lunges – with feet together, lower one leg so that knee is at 90 degrees and other knee is near the floor. Return and repeat with other leg.
- Crunch – on floor with knees bent, elevate upper body a few inches. Return, but keep head slightly above floor.
- Jumping jacks – for bone density and cardio
- Inverted hamstring – from standing position, raise one foot off floor with the other knee bent, continue raising that foot until that leg is parallel to floor, as you bend from the hips with arms to the side. See image below
- Reverse snow angel – lie face down, arms extended forward, legs behind, chest slightly above floor. Move your arms to the side and back to front.
Since this section has been on bodyweight exercise, let me show my favorite lower abdominal routine. I do this every day without fail.
This is just an impression, but I feel that females tend to use and benefit from video workout instruction more so than we men.
Here are some video choices from Amazon:
Note that these choices will provide specific muscle building or toning. Try to do at least 10 reps for each.
- Front squat – stand in center of cord, holding handles at shoulders. Sit straight down, rise and repeat.
- Lat pull – with cord anchored to a door and facing forward, pull each handle to your side to engage back muscles.
- Chest press – cord anchored to a door and facing away from door, pull cords at chest level and then together in front of your chest
- Triceps kickback -with cord anchored to door, facing door and slightly bent forward, pull each handle back until arms straighten
- Lateral raise – standing on center of cord, hands holding handles at your side, pull handles up to shoulder level to stress deltoid muscles
- Bent over row – stand on the center of cord, bent over, hinging at waist, pull handles up to waist level or slightly above to strengthen back
- Biceps curl – stand on center of cord holding handles at your side. Curl arms upward to shoulder level, then slowly down.
- Overhead press – stand on center of cord, holding handles at shoulder level, palms facing each other. Press handles upward while rotating palms forward
- Squat with overhead press – simply squat as you perform the preceding movement. See below image.
- Crunch – lie down, with cord attached to door, knees bent and at 90 degrees, Pull cord as you crunch toward your knees
- Monkey – stand on center of cord, grasping each handle. Bend torso to right as you raise your left hand. Then alternate hands.
Here is a reasonably priced set of resistance cords with all accessories, from Amazon.
Dumbbells require a degree of balance and control, but are generally very easy to use. You can engage specific muscles. This is especially important if one muscle group is lagging behind or even if one arm of leg may be dominant over the other.
- Chest press – with upper body lying on an ottoman or exercise ball, press dumbbells upward and have them meet above your chest
- Dumbbell curls – from standing position, curl dumbbells upward to shoulder level, lower slowly. Use both arms or one at a time.
- One arm rows – with one arm holding a dumbbell and bent over, lower and then slowly raise that arm. For balance, support the other arm by touching an exercise ball, chair or other object. Switch arms and repeat.
- Triceps kickbacks – lie on exercise ball with arms at your side, holding dumbbells. Then straighten arms as you move them backward to engage the triceps.
- Squat – hold dumbbells at shoulder level. Bend knees into a squat.
- Calf raise – with dumbbells at your side and feet flat, raise your heels high, then lower slowly. If possible, begin with the front of your feet on a stair or some object at least 2″ high. A thick book? This allows for greater stretch of the calf muscle.
- Stiff legged deadlift – standing, with dumbbells at your side, bow over, with knees only slightly bent. Touch dumbbells to floor and rise.
- Lunge – standing, with dumbbells held overhead, lower one leg to 90 degrees and the other knee coming close to the floor. Return to starting position and repeat with opposite leg.
- Glute bridge – lie on floor, face up with light dumbbell held on your stomach. Raise hips as high as you can and hold briefly.
- Mason twists – sit on floor, leaning back, feet lifted. Hold one light dumbbell with both hands. Extend arms and twist from side to side, touching the dumbbell to each side.
- Weighted side bends – for the external obliques. See below.
Here are dumbbell sets from Amazon:
Here are exercise balls:
Bullworker devices are popular with women because they don’t occupy much space and are adaptable to any level of beginning strength. The following options employ either the Steel Bow or Bow Classic. The Iso Bow is also available for warm – up, stretching or isometrics.
- Cable spread – hold Bullworker vertically and spread cables – for back and shoulders
- Cable spread overhead – hold Bullworker above head and spread cable. More for shoulders.
- Archer – extend one arm holding cable outward while holding cable in with other arm. Do both arms. For back.
- Overhead cable spread – pull cables apart above head. For shoulders.
- Chest compression -with elbows high, compress Bullworker in front of chest. Great for pectorals.
- Upper chest compression – hold Bullworker overhead as you compress. For upper pectorals.
- Biceps cable curl – hold Bullworker in front, horizontally. Curl upper cable upward as you hold lower cable still.
- Triceps push – down – kneeling on floor, push down on top of Bullworker. Hold back straight.
- Calf extension – while seated, place one foot securely through cable. Then point toes.
- Crunch – while seated on wooden chair or kneeling on floor, crunch down as you push down on top of Bullworker
The Bullworker Iso Bow is shown below.
Bullworker has a group on Facebook, a community of users. Ideas and questions are open to the many world – wide members and inspiration is provided. This is excellent and at no fee to anyone.
The 4 separate categories of exercise choices are to provide variety and not to suggest that all movements in a routine should be only within that category. Mix and match. Try them all. Choose your favorites.
Please remember to add your cardio element to your choices of muscle builders. Then eat nutritiously and you will be amazed at your gains.
Please see the “Comments” box below for questions or comments. Or e-mail me, richard @myworkoutathome.com.