The concept of ‘training like a man’ can make women apprehensive, imagining the results will look more bulk-up than toned-up. Not so. There are certain workouts women tend to avoid because we perceive them as masculine, but in actual fact they’ll help you create lean muscle mass, reduce belly fat, and make you less susceptible to injury.
Read on for five unexpected exercises you should be doing, courtesy of Shape.com.
1. Front Squat
Perform this exercise in the squat rack at the gym. Position feet about one and a half shoulder-widths apart and place the barbell at chest height. Position the barbell on the front portion of your shoulders, crossing arms to secure barbell. Place hands on the top potion of the barbell with the upper arms creating a 90-degree angle with chest. Walk slightly back from the racked position of the barbell and secure your stance. Inhale and lower hips slowly until quads are parallel to the floor. Pause. In one explosive motion, exhale and drive hips to the original position.
Coach’s tip: Like any squat, keep your core tight and chin parallel to the floor, and don't let your knees bend past your toes. It’s also important to remain flat-footed throughout this lift. Distribute weight through your heels and keep them securely fastened to the floor to prevent tilting forward. Begin with just the barbell and work your way up to added weights.
2. Luggage Lift (a.k.a. Single-Arm Deadlift)
Begin with a 25-pound barbell or a dumbbell you can easily move without breaking form. Hold the weight in your right hand at your hip at approximately pocket level. Position feet about one and a half shoulder-widths apart. Lower hips to the floor as if performing a squat (or picking up luggage). Exhale while contracting hamstrings and gluteus as you return to standing, pushing hips forward.
Coach’s tip: Begin with a hand weight to learn proper form while gaining confidence with the lift before using a straight weight bar. The bar will force you to work harder to control the weight and prevent yourself from twisting.
3. Double Lumberjack Swings
Begin with a dumbbell that is heavy enough to challenge you without breaking form. Position feet about one and a half shoulder-widths apart. Grasp the dumbbell with both hands on one end and arms fully extended between legs. Inhale and lower hips until quads are parallel with the floor. In one explosive movement, exhale while driving hips toward the ceiling and swinging the dumbbell until it is parallel to the floor at chest level.
Coach’s tip: This move is about control. To avoid creating a pendulum-like motion with the dumbbell, which can cause your body to lean too far forward, select a weight that you can control throughout the entire movement.
4. Fall Outs (a.k.a. Pull-Up)
Begin with a flat bench or 24- to 36-inch box underneath a pull-up bar. Step up onto the bench or box and extend both hands overhead. In one explosive movement, lower down into a squat as fast as possible and explode upward toward the pull-up bar. Grab on with both hands (palms facing away from body) and use momentum to pull yourself up. As soon as your chin clears the bar, pause and slowly lower back onto the bench or box.
Coach’s tip: Make sure your hands are dry. I recommend a good pair of training gloves that will provide adequate protection and grip.
5. Row This Way
Think plank meets dumbbell row. Choose a pair of dumbbells that you can easily control without compromising your form. Begin in a standard push-up position with one dumbbell in each hand. Squeeze right hand and lift right elbow upward, past the middle of back. Return to the starting position and repeat with left arm. Continue to alternate for a total of 12 to 20 repetitions.
Coach’s tip: Do not rotate your hips as you move your arms. To prevent this from happening, contract both your gluteus and abdominal region as tight as possible throughout the entire set.