Fear of bulking up should never keep women away from weights or strengthening exercises. The mindset that cardio is the only way to get lean muscles is outdated and ineffective. Strengthening your body – whether it’s through bodyweight training or weight lifting – is the way to transform your body. Cardio is still an integral part of your overall health and wellness plan, but if you’re looking to see serious changes in your body, running or isolated cardio is not the smartest way to get there. Health.com collected 11 fab exercises to help women build muscle without bulking the muscle groups being worked. Try these unique moves and you’ll feel muscles you forgot (or never knew) existed!
Monkey Push: Get into the “up” part of push-up position with hands directly below shoulders and body in a straight line from head to heels. Keeping core tight, push through toes and hop forward, landing gently with feet on the outside of hands. Hop back to starting position. Bend elbows (keeping them close to body) to lower body toward floor, then push back up; that’s 1 rep. Do 10–12 reps. Strengthens: Arms and shoulders, abdominals, back.
One-Leg Rear-Delt Raise: Hold a 5- to 8-pound weight in each hand, palms facing in. Bend forward at waist, letting arms hang, while lifting left leg back so it’s in line with torso. Flex shoulder muscles and raise weights out to sides until arms are parallel to floor (as shown). Lower arms. Do 15 reps; switch legs, and repeat. Strengthens: Core, shoulders, biceps, triceps, back, hamstrings, glutes.
Opposite Arm and Leg Lift: Get down on all fours with hands under shoulders and knees under hips. Reach your right arm forward; at the same time, stretch your left leg back. Hold for 5 seconds, then release and repeat using the left arm and right leg; that’s one rep. Do 10 to 15 reps. Strengthens: Upper body, lower body, biceps, triceps, shoulders, upper and lower back, glutes.
Tricpes Down Dog: From plank position, bend elbows to lower down as far as you can, then straighten them. Lift your hips up as you push back into Down Dog position, pressing your heels toward the floor. Return to plank. Do entire sequence 10 times. Strengthens: Upper body, biceps, triceps, shoulders.
Twisting Knee Plank: Get into plank position (the up part of a push-up). Twist your lower body to the left, then to the right; return to center. Bring your left knee forward to touch your left elbow; hold for 1 second, then return to center and repeat on the right side. That’s 1 rep; do 20 reps. Strengthens: Upper and lower body; arms, shoulders, abdominals, obliques, butt.
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