Exercise is vital for women and one of the most significant indicators of health. Women who exercise can lower their risk of disease as well as lose weight.
Exercise increases energy levels, promotes skin health and brain health, and even builds stronger muscles and higher bone density. Women who want to improve their health can start by making exercise an essential part of their life, even at home.
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Why Women Need Exercise
Exercise is beneficial for both women and men. Exercise helps to control weight and keep weight in a healthy range. It builds muscle and strengthens bones. Exercise also helps prevent health problems and manage existing health problems.
In the United States, heart disease is the leading cause of death for women. Exercising for thirty minutes each day can reduce the risk of heart disease by 30-40% in women, according to the American Heart Association.
Exercise also gives women higher energy levels and helps lower stress as well as get a great night's sleep. Building better coordination and balance is also a benefit of regular exercise.
Best Exercises for Women by Age Group
Women in their 20s
Women in their 20's can push their bodies harder than at any other age. This is the age to really work your body and train hard. Cardio exercise is important because it exercises your cardiovascular system, including your heart. It helps you burn calories and increases your energy levels.
However, women in their 20’s also need to focus on weight training. Weight training is what creates muscle definition or the “toned” look that many women want. Developing a program that is a mix of cardio and weight training (3x cardio per week, 3x weight training a week) is best.
Women in their 30s
Women in their 30's are beginning to lower their basal metabolic rate and need to work harder for the same results. Yet overworking can have adverse effects and lead to a host of injuries.
Circuit training (combined cardio and resistance work) three to four times per week is great because it increases caloric burn. Weight training three times per week is still advised in your 30’s.
Women in their 40s and beyond
Women in their 40’s and beyond have significantly lower basal metabolism rates. We recommend approximately 30 to 45 minutes of cardio four to five times per week with three weight training days. On each weight training day, make sure that you work every muscle group. This is also a great time to add Pilates and strengthening bodyweight exercises to the mix to further tighten the body.
All The Best Exercises for Women
Best Ab Exercises for Women
Plank Crawl Out
Women in their 20's can push their bodies harder than at any other age. This is the age to really work your body and train hard. Cardio exercise is important because it exercises your cardiovascular system, including your heart. It helps you burn calories and increases your energy levels. However, women in their 20’s also need to focus on weight training. Weight training is what creates muscle definition or the “toned” look that many women want. Developing a program that is a mix of cardio and weight training (3x cardio per week, 3x weight training a week) is best.
Bird Dog Plank
The bird dog plank will help with lower back pain while working your abdominal muscles and creating a neutral spine. The bird dog plank starts with a simple position on hands and knees. Then, the hand is raised forward on one side while the alternative leg is raised backward. From here, alternate your arms and legs.
Best Upper Abs Exercises for Women
Start by holding a dumbbell with both hands towards the top of your chest. Lie on the ground with your feet flat. Then, perform a standard crunch with the dumbbell held against your chest. The additional weight adds greater resistance and leads to faster muscle gains.
A modified V-sit is an easier exercise than a V-sit, so beginners can get started. This move targets your upper abdominals. Lie on the floor with your knees bent. Then move your upper body upwards and bend your knees inward. This will form the V-sit. If you feel comfortable trying a full V-sit, simply extend your legs.
Best Lower Ab Exercises for Women
This is a great exercise that works the entire body and particularly engages your lower abs. It is also a great exercise to get your heart rate moving. Move into a plank position and then alternate legs, bringing your knee towards your chest, one at a time. Your arms will remain in plank position.
Lying Leg Raise
Is the perfect exercise for your lower abs while also engaging your inner thighs. Lie on your back with your legs straight. Slowly lift your butt off the ground as you push your legs into the air. Then reverse and slowly move your legs down to a position a few inches off the ground. Bring the legs back up and continue moving between these two points.
For more ways to target your inner thighs, make sure to read this article.
Best Back Exercise for Women
Targets the muscles in the upper and lower back as well as the triceps and shoulder muscles. To do this exercise, use a lat pull-down station. Grab the bar above you and keep your arms straight. Then pull the bar down while keeping your shoulder blades tight. Once the bar is at your chest, hold it there for a few seconds, and then slowly move the bar back up to the starting position above your head.
Single Dumbbell Row with Weights
Works your back and upper arms. This exercise involves placing your hand on a weight bench in a bent position. Then, letting your other arm fall downward, holding the weight. Pull this arm up to create a parallel line between your arm (shoulder to elbow) and the ground. Then slowly allow the arm to move back down to create a straight line. Pause and then continue the exercise.
Best Chest Exercise for Women
Dumbbell Squeeze Press
To do this exercise, hold two dumbbells and pull your arms into your body. Your elbows should be pointed outward. Move your arms upward to form a straight line while keeping the dumbbells centered. Then slowly lower back down. This explosive exercise works the chest, triceps, and shoulders.
Is a well-known chest and arm exercise. To start, hold two dumbbells or a weighted barbell slightly above your shoulders. Then, move your arms upward. Keep your arms steady and move slowly. Pause when you reach full extension and then slowly lower your arms back to the starting position.
Best Shoulder Exercise for Women
Side Lateral Raise
The side lateral raise starts with two dumbbells at your sides. From here, move your arms out to the side until they are slightly above your shoulder. Then lower and return to the starting position. This exercise targets the shoulder muscles as well as the back and tricep muscles.
This classic exercise begins by getting into a plank position but with your arms straight out and your body at a 45-degree angle.
From here, slowly lower your body via your arms and then press or "push" yourself back up. Push-ups are a traditional bodyweight exercise that work the shoulders and the arms.
Best Leg Exercise for Women
Start by standing with your legs shoulder-width apart. Then, slowly lower your body moving your butt backward and bending your knees.
Maintain balance and make sure that the weight of your body is placed on the middle of your foot and not on the heels.
Reverse Lunges with Knee Squats
This exercise works our legs, particularly the quadriceps and your glute muscles. To perform this exercise, stand with your legs shoulder-width apart. Next, move back one foot and rest that foot on the balls of your feet. From here, bend both of your knees. Then move back to a standing position.
More of our favorite exercises for legs can be found here.
Best Butt Exercise for Women
The bridge works your butt and your back. Lie on your back and bend your knees. Make sure that your knees are not tightly squished but relaxed and open.
Then push into your heels and lift your hips as well as your butt off the ground. Hold this position for a few seconds and squeeze your glutes. Then lower gently back to the starting position.
Hip Thrust with Weight
Adding weights to your hip thrust will increase your ability to strengthen your butt and tighten it. To start, hold your barbell or dumbbells and position yourself against a weight bench. Keep the weight parallel to the weight bench.
Then move the weights up over your legs to rest above your hips. Place your elbows on the weight bench and press into your heels while squeezing your glutes and lifting your hips upward. The weight will move with the hips (keep your spine neutral and do not use your arm strength).
Best Glute Exercise for Women
This works your glutes and is an easy bodyweight exercise to perform.
Lie on your back and bend one knee while the other leg lies flat.
Push into your heel as you lift your straight leg up and raise your hips.
Now, lower your leg. Repeat.
Are an excellent whole-body exercise with an emphasis on your glutes. Start with your kettlebell between your legs and your legs shoulder-width apart. Move the kettlebell in between your legs and then move it forward in a swing motion until it is above your head. Lower back down. The key to this exercise is maintaining a controlled movement.
Best Quad Exercise for Women
Targets your quads as well as your glutes. To perform this exercise, stand up with your feet shoulder-width apart. Grasp the barbell with both hands on either side of your head and arms bent. The barbell should rest gently on your back. Now, perform a standard squat. Go slowly and keep the barbell steady.
Offset Dumbbell Reverse Lunge
For this exercise to work your quads, hold a dumbbell in one hand while the other hangs to the side. Take a step back with the same leg as the hand holding the dumbbell and bend your knee into a lunge position. Pause when you reach the lunge position and then return to your starting position. Switch sides and repeat.
Best Arm Exercise for Women
Bicep Curl and Overhead Press
This movement combines two arm exercises for maximum results. Stand up holding both dumbbells and perform a standard bicep curl. Then when you pull your hands up to complete the curl, do not drop your hands back down. Instead, push your dumbbells up above your head, performing an overhead press. Now you can lower the dumbbells slowly back to your starting position.
Dumbbell Side to Front Raise
This is an exercise that works every arm muscle. Start standing with your arms in front of you. Slowly move your arms upward so that your arms form a straight line parallel to the floor. Then move your arms to the front of your body so that they are straight out in front of you. Lower to the starting position.
Best Tricep Exercise for Women
One Arm Press
Looking to build tricep strength? Start by standing with your legs shoulder-width apart. Then stretch one arm out to the side in a straight line. Take the other arm and bend it with your dumbbell by your shoulder. Now, raise the bent arm with the dumbbell above your head and then lower back down. Repeat on the other side.
Swiss Ball Lying Triceps Extension
Begin with a dumbbell in each hand as you lie back on to the ball. Keep your back steady and raise the dumbbells straight up above your head. From here, lower the dumbbell towards your head and create a 90-degree angle. Pause and raise the dumbbells back to their starting position above your head.
Best Bicep Exercise for Women
Seated Dumbbell Curl
The seated dumbbell curl is a classic bicep exercise. Sit down and spread your legs wide apart. Grasp one dumbbell in your hand and place your elbow against your inner thigh. Slowly lift the dumbbell towards your body and then lower it. Change sides and continue alternating.
Curtsy Lunge with Biceps Curl
This exercise is a bit complicated but works multiple muscle groups include the biceps, quads, glutes, and hamstrings. Start in a standing position. Then, move your leg diagonally behind, heading into a reverse lunge. Your front knee should be in front of your back leg’s knee. Hold the weights at your shoulder and slowly unfurl them, perform a bicep curl, and then stand back up from the curtsy lunge. Repeat on the opposite side.
Best Cardio Exercise for Women
Ellipticals & Stair Climbers
These machines offer great ways to get a quick/intense workout in. Long continuous cardio and circuit training are both options. The elliptical works both the upper body and the lower body, while targeting hamstrings, glutes, calves, and quads. The stair climber works all of the lower body muscles such as the hamstrings, glutes, calves, and quads; whereas a vertical climber will work both the upper and lower body.
HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training)
HIIT is a wonderful way to burn additional calories. This type of training is about working at a high intensity and then switching to a leisurely pace. The goal is to create short bursts of energy at high intensity often. An example might be a 20 minutes workout where you sprint for thirty seconds, walk slowly for thirty seconds, and then continue the pattern.
Exercise Limitations & Considerations
When exercising, it is important to consider any exercise limitations you might have. Do not risk your health and check in with your doctor before you begin any strenuous exercise.
If you are a beginner, start slowly and work your way up to more complicated and intense exercises. If you have any long-term conditions or injuries, ask your doctor for their input. Every person is different, and knowing what your limitations are can help you choose an exercise program that works best for your body.
Tips on Food & Nutrition for Women
Food and nutrition play a vital role in the health and weight loss goals for women. It can be challenging to change your diet, but small modifications can have a significant impact on your health.
There are many types of nutritional food plans that you can follow, but we recommend starting with these two basic changes: less sugar and more vegetables. Sugar not only helps you gain weight, but it raises your insulin levels and harms your body in numerous ways.
Avoid added sugar when possible. Vegetables are among the healthiest foods that you can eat and provide the greatest nutritional value. Try to eat three to five servings of vegetables per day.
People also Ask (FAQs)
Can women work out at home with bodyweight only?
Yes! You can work out at home with bodyweight exercises only. However, weight training is critical for women who want to tone their body and prevent aging. If you are able to weight train, we recommend including weight training as part of your exercise plan.
How often and how long should women exercise?
How often and how long women should exercise depends entirely on their age, their current physical fitness level, and their goals. We recommend deciding on a fitness or health goal and then tailoring a workout program to help you achieve your goals. The American Heart Association recommends that women exercise thirty minutes per day, five days per week.
Can women lose weight by only exercising daily?
Yes! Women can lose weight by only exercising daily. You do not have to adjust your diet dramatically to lose weight if you are exercising daily. However, eating healthy can accelerate your weight loss. We recommend trying to make small adjustments to your diet to promote weight loss as well as better health.
Can pregnant women exercise? What should they consider?
Yes, pregnant women can exercise. They should consider slowing down their cardio workouts to low-impact workouts. They may also want to stop lifting weights at six months. Most trainers recommend focusing on low-impact cardio workouts such as elliptical machines, stationary cycling, walking, swimming, and step machines. Check with a doctor before engaging in any workout activity.
What is the best exercise for women to lose weight?
The best exercise for women to lose weight is a combination of circuit training and weight training. Resistance work at a high-intensity cardio setting (circuit training) and weight training activate the cardiovascular system and the muscular system for maximum results.
Consistent exercising is a critical component of optimal health. Regardless of your age or limitations, we recommend exercising for ten to thirty minutes per day. If you have limitations and are not sure what exercises you can safely perform, reach out to a physical therapist or personal trainer.
These experts can provide tailor-made exercise programs. If you are healthy, follow the exercises in this article to improve your health and make consistent muscular and cardiovascular gains.