If you’re spending hours in the gym, unsure what to prioritise, these straightforward exercise options should be your new holy grail.
Most women have a lot on their plate! Between work and family, we are often guilty of putting everyone else’s needs above our own, and it’s our self-care that suffers.
We’ve all heard the analogies about filling up our own cups first, but who can honestly say they do that? The good news is that, when it comes to exercise, there are some key ways to meet many of the unique requirements of women’s health in one hit.
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If there is one type of exercise for women that I am deeply passionate about, its strength training. The list of benefits is huge, and right up at the top is bone health. Concerningly, 66% of people over 50 have osteoporosis or osteopenia, and women are particularly vulnerable.
Regular strength training up to the age of 30 will add deposits to our bone bank, setting us up for strong bones as we age. Working with weights regularly at all ages promotes healthy bones and improves functional movement capacity, reducing the chances of injury and falls.
Resistance training also builds lean muscle mass, increasing our body’s ability to burn fat. This helps us feel more energised through our day and can help if you are looking to improve your body composition.
Best of all, strength training helps us feel embodied and empowered!
Unsure of what moves to perform? Consider these 5 key movement patterns:
- Squatting: leg exercises such as squats, lunges and leg press.
- Horizontal pushing: like a chest press.
- Horizontal pulling: such as a seated row.
- Vertical pushing: movements pushing away overhead like overhead presses.
- Vertical pulling: pulling towards you from above – for example, a lat pulldown.
Aim for 2-3 sessions per week through all of these movement patterns or enlist a qualified personal trainer to help you get started.
You’ve heard of ‘HIIT’, but ‘HIRT’ or ‘High Intensity Resistance Training’ is a girl’s best friend! HIRT is similar to HIIT, but we slow the movements down and add resistance to them.
Here is a sample HIRT workout:
Equipment: Two dumbbells with s many rounds as possible for 15 mins:
- 5 slow push-ups
- 10 dumbbell bent over rows
- 10 dumbbell overhead press
- 10 dumbbell squats
- Rest 30-60 seconds (as much as you need to work again with intensity and great form)
HIRT delivers fabulous bang-for-buck as you are getting both muscle-building and cardiovascular benefits, all within a short period of time!
Regular yoga practise will not only have you experiencing the benefits of flexibility and core strength, but also that of mindfulness. Mindfulness is a key strategy in managing stress and improving mental wellbeing.
Sometimes it feels good to let someone else take the reins! Check out the group fitness timetable at your closest gym and you are likely to see a huge range of options from dancing, to indoor cycling, HIIT and weight training! Jumping in a group fitness class will help keep you motivated to work hard and will also provide that social connection we often love and crave!
Pilates on the reformer is another option where we can progressively overload the muscles to facilitate the wide-ranging benefits of resistance training. A reformer workout will also have you tuned in to top notch form and technique, engaging your core and supporting pelvic floor health.
A typical routine works the full body and very often gets the heart rate up for a cardio win too.
All in all, seeing commitment to exercise as self-care is an important mindset to harness. Healthy habits help form the best version of you, and positively impact all aspects of life!
Kate Kraschnefski is Head of Training at the Australian Institute of Fitness. Kate’s qualifications include a Bachelor of Applied Science, Diploma of Training Design and Development and Certificate III & IV in Fitness. She has over 15 years’ experience in the fitness industry and is passionate about personal training and group exercise.