Women come in all shapes and sizes. While your metabolism and genetics do play a big role in your natural shape, your activity level and fitness can make or break what those genes have intended for you. For instance, I may come from a long line of naturally thin women, but by working out I can add some muscle tone and curves to help me fill out those little jeans I wear. On the other side of things, naturally bigger women can benefit from strength training because the increased muscle mass will speed metabolism and assist in weight loss efforts.
Strength training does not have to take all day and doesn’t really require any equipment. Many of the best muscle building moves can be done with little to no gear and will generate results fairly quickly depending on your body type and fitness level. I suggest strength training at least 3 times a week and more if you’d like. Give your muscles a day or two off though to recover.
Here are the top 5 strength training moves for women that can be done in under 30 minutes:
Push-ups are a classic strength training move that engage the muscles from your toes to the base of your skull. I can’t think of a better move than this one. When in proper form, with hands beneath your shoulders and body straight, pushups work your arms, chest, back, and core. If you have a hard time with these, try modified pushups, with your knees on the ground, and work up to the real deal. Start with 3 sets of 20 push-ups if you can. For ladies with not much up top, push-ups create chest definition to capitalize on what you do have.
2. Lateral Raises
Sexy shoulders look great with a tank top and make those shoulder pads from the 80s even more laughable. Lateral raises work best with dumbbells but you can also use a soup can or water bottles filled with sand. Standing with feet shoulder width apart and knees slightly bent you raise your arms out to the side as if you are spreading your wings. Stop the movement when your hands are directly out from your shoulder and return to start. The standard 3 sets of 15 repetitions is a good place to start with these as you figure out what weight works best and how many you need to do for maximum benefits.
Another move with multiple benefits, squats are great for your legs and rear end. Stand with feet about shoulder width apart and sit back until your in a seated position. Do your best to keep your knees from extending over the tops of your feet as this can cause injury. If you have a fitness ball, doing squats against the wall can give you perfect form. Holding dumbbells will intensify the move when standard squats get to easy. Start with 3 sets of 15 and add weights as you progress.
Like squats, lunges are great for your legs and butt. In addition, lunges engage your core, leading to better posture and a stronger midsection. There are numerous ways to do lunges, the key is finding what works for you. I like stepping back into my lunges, starting with my right leg. As I sink into the lunge, I make sure and keep my left knee directly over my foot, avoiding discomfort. Hold the pose for a second and then bring the right leg back to start. Repeat 15 times with each leg for 3 sets.
5. Step Ups
Yet another for the butt, this one is certain to lift what you have and sculpt something if you have-not. If you’re just starting you may want to try a step about 12 inches off the ground. You can work up to using a kitchen chair or whatever you have available. Start with both feet on the ground and step up with your right foot, slowly raising the body and eventually lifting the left leg, as pictured here. Then lower the left leg back and start again. These are tough and you may want to start with 2 sets of 10 depending on how high you are stepping and how slow you are moving. The slower you move with this one, the more intense the workout.
With all strength training exercises, be flexible. If you find you are working too hard, drop down to 10 reps rather than 15. If, however, a move is too easy, add some weight or reps. You know you have the right resistance when the last several reps of the last set are nearly impossible. Soreness is good, pain is not. Building sexy muscle definition will involve some soreness but you will be shocked just how quickly you will see results when you add a fairly quick routine like this to your workout schedule.