Top 10 Exercises for Women

Learn which exercises will help you reach your goal of a 'toned, fit body'.

The Truth About Toning

One of the common misconceptions among women is that there are special exercises that tone muscles separate from regular muscle building exercises.

Muscular definition, or tone, is achieved by building muscle and losing enough fat to show off the muscle. The techniques for building muscle are the same whether you want 1 pound of muscle, or 20 pounds of muscle. The only difference is the length of time it will take to reach your goal.

In order to have a toned, fit, body, you need to lift heavy weights so that you build muscle. Then when you lose any excess fat, you will have beautiful curves to show off.

If you do not have an adequate muscular base, and you lose fat, you will just look like a smaller version of yourself. You will be squishy, and not have any muscular definition. This is called being skinny fat. Sure you will fit great in your skinny jeans, but if you want to rock that bikini, you need muscle.

Top 10 Exercises for Women

1. Squats

The number one exercise for sexy legs. Squats primarily build up your quadriceps (the front of your leg). They also help build up your glutes (butt) especially if you do low bar, sumo style squats. Additionally, you need a strong core to squat heavy, so with proper form, these help strengthen your core, giving you nice abs as a side benefit.

2. Lunges

Lunges help to build the quadriceps and glutes as well. A shorter lunges develops the quads more, while a longer lunge develops the glutes more. Since lunges require balance, they also can help strengthen the core. Try conventional lunges, walking lunges, or reverse lunges.

3. Stiff Legged Deadlifts or Romanian Deadlifts

This exercise builds up the glutes (butt), lower back, and hamstrings (back of the leg) giving nice shape to the leg and helping to lift your butt.

4. Glute Bridges

These are an isolation exercise for the glutes. They should be done AFTER your heavier leg exercises to burn out the glutes. Want a nice butt, you NEED these. Variations include one-legged glute bridge and barbell glute bridge. If you do them unweighted, hold for 5 seconds at full contraction.

5. Incline Dumbbell Bench Press

The incline bench press helps build the pectoral muscles (chest) and can give you the illusion of cleavage. I find dumbbells more effective due to the greater range of motion.

6. Pendlay Row

The number one exercise for back. This will help you build width in your upper back, which will in turn make your waist look smaller. If you are uncomfortable doing them, try one arm dumbbell bent rows.

7. Tricep Kickbacks

Strengthening your triceps will help firm up that flabby area in the back of the arm, and give your arms nice definition. An alternative to kickbacks is the overhead tricep extension.

8. Overhead Press

The best exercise to strengthen your shoulders. Widening your shoulders will make your waist look smaller, and your shape more hourglass.

9. Stomach Vacuums

The simplest and most effective exercise for improving the transverse abdominus (internal ab muscles). Doing these will make your waist smaller.

10. Plank

Another exercise for your transverse abdominus. Simple yet effective.