"Exercises that use lots of muscle groups together, such as a squat into an overhead press or a deadlift into a row, are great ways to train more efficiently and increase your strength faster," says trainer Jennifer McAmis.
The fastest way for women to get stronger is through lifting weights — and no, you won't bulk up doing it. Pumping iron has multiple health benefits including increased metabolism, stronger bones, healthier heart and decreased chance of diabetes.
"If gaining strength is your goal, you should be lifting at a weight that you can only do 11-13 repetitions of the exercise," McAmis says. "If that starts to feel like you could squeeze out a few more repetitions, then it's time to up the weight."
Want to work out at home? Here are strength-training moves from trainers who know a little something about getting buff.
Celebrity trainer Tracy Anderson is famous for her exercises that tone and strengthen, while maintaining a lean look. These eight exercises will target your entire body, from your arms to your core and your legs and thighs, with exercises like single leg kick, mini squat with leg extension and the killer: the plank with arm and leg lift. Ready to get strong in no time flat?
"Body weight exercises like walking lunges, squats, bench dips and push-ups are a great way to build full-body strength, and when done in HIIT (high intensity interval training) circuits with plyometrics, such as jumping the squat or jumping the lunge, you can see fairly rapid improvements in fitness level and body composition — as long as nutrition is also sound," says Shannon Colavecchio, owner of Bada** Fitness Studio.
The following exercises show trainer Kai Wheeler demonstrating some plyometric exercises that Colavecchio mentions. These exercises will strengthen and tone the lower body, including the quads, thighs and glutes, through explosive movements.
Ready to get your backside bikini ready? Not only will your booty be strong, but it will be lifted as well (watch out, JLo). This following workout strengthens and lifts your backside by targeting your glutes, inner and outer thighs and quads. Using only a chair, a mat and a light set of hand weights, these exercises promise a powerful and toned booty in a month.
"The best exercises for women's strength are combo multi-muscle plyometric exercises," says award-winning trainer Erin Shirey, who owns Power Fitness PDX. Her top pick? The squat-bicep-overhead press with a plyo squat jump. "It sounds complicated but you incorporate your entire body, and add an element of cardio too," she says. "The explosive power combined with incorporating more than one muscle group helps improve strength efficiently and effectively."
Watch her video below to find out how to do it.
The tricep bench dip is tops for strengthening your arms and sculpting your guns.
"Remember the strength work you do now helps your body every week, month and year. The stronger you are now, the better your body will be each year," says Shirey.
Watch how to perform this simple exercise for a toned and strong upper body.
Ready for a serious power move? Dumbbell plank rows are a multi-functional exercise that strengthens your arms and upper body as well as your core. This strength-boosting exercise requires only a mat and a dumbbell. For maximum benefit, Shirey says to make sure you are focusing on each movement. "When lifting, give yourself permission to truly focus on each muscle as you are using it. It has been proven in studies that when you concentrate on the muscle group, you are able to reach greater improvement," she says.
Strengthen and tone your abdominal muscles with this core power mini workout from Biggest Loser trainer Jillian Michaels. These exercises not only shrink your waistline and strengthen your abs and core, but also tone up your arms.
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