5 Weight-Lifting Moves That’ll Help You Drop a Size (Or More)
Strength training isn’t one-sex-fits-all. Sculpt muscle and drop pounds with this routine tailored for women.THOMAS MACDONALD / RODALE IMAGES
Few things are clearer: If you want to torch calories, lower your body fat, and stay trim for life, you need more muscle. Yet rarely do I hear women talk about their success with weights. They either complain about lackluster results or are discouraged by soreness.
Ladies, it doesn’t have to be that way! I’ve fallen hard for these five female-targeted exercises. (And trust me, you will too!) They’re brilliant for hitting trouble spots, fixing imbalances that can cause injuries, and accelerating the hot-body results you’re after. Two or three times a week, do 10 reps of the following moves in order, resting 30 seconds between each move. Complete two or three sets.
Check out a pin-able infographic of the workout below. Beyond it, we’ve got a breakdown of each of the exercises.
MOVE 1Goblet SquatTHOMAS MACDONALD / RODALE IMAGES
Why it’s perfect for you: This squat variation (my hands-down fave!) hits your quads like most others but also focuses on the glutes, hamstrings, and core-stabilizing muscles, which tend to be weaker in women.
Stand tall with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding the end of a dumbbell against your chest with both hands (A). Bend your knees to allow your hips to drop straight down until your thighs are at least parallel to the floor, keeping your chest lifted (B). Pause, then press into your heels to stand.MOVE 2Reverse-Grip PulldownTHOMAS MACDONALD / RODALE IMAGES
Why it’s perfect for you: These moves blast bra bulge, tightening up the area around your underarm without—and this is key—creating width or bulk.
Grab the bar at a lat pulldown machine with hands shoulder-width apart and palms facing you, then sit with your knees securely anchored under the leg pads. Lean back slightly and fully extend your arms without locking the elbows (A). Keeping your chest lifted, bend your elbows and pull your shoulder blades together to bring the bar toward your body (B). Pause, then slowly reverse the movement to return to start.MOVE 3Bent-Over Barbell RowTHOMAS MACDONALD / RODALE IMAGES
Why it’s perfect for you: The underhand grip tones biceps and creates sexy definition in your upper back.
Grasp a barbell with your hands shoulder-width apart and palms facing out. Separate your feet by two to four inches and allow your arms to hang down toward your knees. Bend your knees and push your hips back until your hands are in front of your knees. Keep your abs strongly engaged and slightly arch your lower back (A). Bring your shoulder blades together and pull the bar toward you until it almost touches your torso just above your navel (B). Pause, then slowly lower the bar back to start.
MOVE 4Bent-Knee DeadliftTHOMAS MACDONALD / RODALE IMAGES
Why it’s perfect for you: The deadlift tones the entire body, but it’s designed to work your “pulling” muscles (think back and lats), which women often neglect.
Grab a barbell with your hands slightly wider than shoulder width, arms straight, palms facing you; bend your knees and sit your hips back, keeping your chest lifted and weight in your heels (A). Brace your core and push up to stand (B). Reverse the movement to return to start, keeping the bar close to your body.MOVE 5Walking LungeTHOMAS MACDONALD / RODALE IMAGES
Why it’s perfect for you: Women are more prone to knee injuries than men are, partly because we have wider hips, which creates a lower-body alignment that can stress joints. Lunges help strengthen your quads, which, in turn, stabilizes the knee and protects against pain.
Grab a pair of dumbbells and stand tall with your feet together, keeping your shoulders back and down and knees slightly bent (A). Take a large step forward with your right leg, landing on your right heel, then bend both knees to lower until your front thigh is parallel to the floor (B). Pause, then push through your right heel to stand. Immediately step forward with your left leg and repeat the movement. Continue alternating legs as you move forward.