No woman wants more fat than muscle, so it's time to burn up the fat cell storage and replace it all with awesome muscle. Developing muscles for certain skills can take time, but if you're up for the challenge, there's a way around it. This doesn't mean you'll be bulky like a female Arnold Schwarzenegger. No, no. This means you'll be healthy, toned and rocking the figure of a strong woman! These exercises are split up into a few different workout umbrellas, including compound moves, yoga, CrossFit, plyometrics and more.
This means you're working at least two muscle groups with first priority. Usually an upper body and lower body group combine so you're requiring blood flow all over the body, which means you're using more energy and burning more fat. You'll make room for superior muscle growth in no time!
1. Squat and Triceps Extension: Grab a dumbbell and hold it over your head with both hands. Touch your arms to your head and drop the weight back as you squat. You'll target the triceps, glutes and quads. Inhale on the way down and exhale as you come up.
- Step 1: Hold one dumbbell over your head with both hands. Make sure your elbows are nearly squeezing the sides of your head and are pointing forward. Feet are shoulder-width apart as you drop down into your squat. At the same time you drop into the squat, you drop the dumbbell behind your head.
- Step 2: Exhale and drive out of the squat as you extend the weight overhead, completing the triceps extension. Inhale and repeat.
2. Reverse Lunge and Press: Test your balance with this combo! Stand with your feet under your hips, then lunge backward, keeping the weights at your shoulders. Push out of the lunge as the knee lifts forward and press the weights overhead. Immediately get back to that lunge!
- Step 1: Grab a pair of dumbbells and hold them over your shoulders, elbows dropped and palms forward. Step straight back into a reverse lunge so that your knees both create 90-degree bends. Get your back knee as close to the ground as possible. The chest must stay lifted and proud.
- Step 2: Exhale and push out of the lunge, bringing the back leg forward into a knee lift. At the same exact time, you'll press the weights overhead. Brace the abs to help you find balance.
3. BOSU Burpee with Pushup: Who doesn't like a good burpee? Pair with a pushup and add an extra challenge with the BOSU ball. Ball-side down, pop out into your plank and rock your core with a steady pushup before you jump the feet in and rise. This will totally wear you out!
- Step 1: Start by holding your Bosu ball in your hands, with your arms extended in front of your chest. Keep your feet shoulder width apart, back straight and chest up.
- Step 2: Bending at your knees place your Bosu ball on the ground.
- Step 3: From the step two, quickly kick your feet backward so that your body is forming a plank position. Make sure that your butt is tucked under and you are squeezing your glutes.
- Step 4: Preform a standard push-up. Keep your elbows tucked into your sides.
- Step 5: Return to the standard plank position.
- Step 6: Quickly jump, bringing your feet back toward your Bosu ball. You should be back into the same position as step 2.
- Step 7: Lastly pushing through your heels return to the starting position to complete this move.
4. Fly with Bridge: Work the booty and lift the girls at the same time! Lie on your back with the dumbbells pressed overhead to start. Once you're there, push up into your bridge and open the arms out to the side while your hips are lifted. Lower the hips to the floor, bring the arms over the chest again and repeat!
- Step 1: Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet completely on the floor. Hold a dumbbell in each hand and drop your arms out to the sides to create a "T."
- Step 2: Squeeze the glutes and lift your hips until you can draw a straight line from the top of the knee down to your chest — no dips! Press through your heels.
- Step 3: Maintaining a static bridge position, close the dumbbells up and over your chest. Your elbows will be slightly bent so you can focus on the chest muscles. Open the arms and return them to the floor again to finish your rep.
Most of the time, you're using only your bodyweight and your given range of motion to flow through movements. Yoga can be very relaxing, but it can also be very intense. Try some of these transitional movements to challenge your muscles.
5. Three-Legged Dog to Knee Tuck: One of the most go-to poses in yoga is the downward dog. If you have the flexibility to get your heels to the floor, go for it every time. Once you're in down dog, lift one leg and tuck it under the chest as you come forward. Keep repeating without setting the leg down and you'll burn up the core, glutes and shoulders with this coordinated move.
- Step 1: Begin in a high plank and push back into your downward dog. Try to keep your heels on the ground, pushing back through the hips and pulling the shoulder blades together. Lift one leg while keeping both legs straight and pushing into the supporting foot. Drop your head so you're looking at your mat or toes.
- Step2: With control, lower the leg as you shift your weight into your hands. Simultaneously, exhale and pull the the knee up and under the chest. Pull the shoulder blades apart and round the back to allow room for the knee. When you shift from the downward dog into the knee tuck, the foot should not touch the ground at any point.
- Step 3: Keeping the foot off the ground, shift your position into downward dog again and extend the leg for a second rep.
6. Chaturanga: Downward dog to plank to chaturanga to upward facing dog and repeat to nail this one. For more of a flow, try pushing your head between your arms as you lower the chest to the floor, essentially skipping the stop at plankville.
- Step 1: Begin in a plank, then push the hips up and back until your reach your downward dog position as shown. Press the heels into the floor and drop your head. The shoulder blades will draw together.
- Step 2: Shift your chest toward your hands without moving your feet. As you do this, your focus will be on lowering the chest and face to the floor. Your hips will remained slightly hinged so the muscle engagement is more on the chest and triceps.
- Step 3: Exhale to lift out of the pushup, pressing the hips up and backward to your downward dog again.
7. Downward Dog Pushup: Seeing a trend with the downward dog?! For this move, you want to aim the crown of your head toward the mat. Make sure you're looking at your belly button to keep good form. This will target the shoulders, back and core.
- Step 1: Begin in pushup position and push your hips back so your torso is nearly vertical. Your hands, arms, and head should be in a straight line. This is pike position.
- Step 2: Lower your body until your head nearly touches the floor between your hands and then press back up. That is one rep. Continue for allotted time.
Don't be shy! CrossFit can be pretty intense, but it's all built upon a foundation of good techniques and basic exercises that you can easily find in other sports and gym practices. Nail these and you'll see results fast!
8. Kettlebell Snatch: Start low in a squat with the weight between the feet, not in front of them. Pull it straight up to the chest, using the elbow to steer. Without pausing, flip the bell to the back of the wrist and push it overhead as you "catch" the weight of it in a squat.
- Step 1: Stand in a squat position with feet shoulder-width apart, holding the kettlebell in one arm and the other on your knee.
- Step 2: Slowly pull your kettlebell upward so that it is by your shoulder.
- Step 3: Then raise the kettlebell so it is above your head. Keep your back flat, arm straight and your knees slightly bent.
9. Wall Balls: These will catch up with you quickly, tiring out the legs and shoulders. Drop into a squat, then explode as you launch the ball upward. Aim for the same line or spot on the wall every time. When you catch it, drop straight back into your squat or at least have soft knees.
- Step 1: Stand with your feet hip-width apart, holding your ball in front of your chest.
- Step 2: Slowly squat down so your legs are at a 90 degree angle.
- Step 3: Pushing through your heels, toss the ball above your head at the wall and land back into your squat.
10. Ring Rows/Inverted Rows: The same rules for a plank apply to this body row: chest, hips and thighs all lift and lower as one solid unit. Try to get the chest and hands as close together as possible. Change the angle of your body to make it easier or harder.
- Step 1: Find a low, stable pull-up bar or something close to a TRX strap like a swing. Grip the bar with hands extending straight out from the shoulders. Choose the angle you want your body to be — the less severe, the easier the row will be. Brace the core and keep your body in a straight, solid line.
- Step 2: Exhale and pull your chest up to the bar with your elbows pointing out to the sides. The core remains tight; avoid sagging hips or an arched back.
- Step 3: Release the row position with an inhale. Keep the shoulder blades close together at the bottom of the movement.
11. Thrusters: You'll want to make a smooth transition from the squat to the press. As you push out of the squat, you're also pushing the weights overhead. Straighten the arms for it to count. Then you'll drop the weights to shoulder level as you drop the hips into another squat.
- Step 1: Perform a standard squat with your feet shoulder width apart, bent at a 90 degree angle. Hold your kettlebell at chest level.
- Step 2: Slowly stand pressing your weight through your heel, lifting the kettlebell above your head.
How quickly can your body react? Is your mind ahead of your feet? Time to get coordinated and invest in your fast-twitch muscle fibers that direct your agility, reaction time and burn mega calories. Get ready to jump!
12. Squat Jumps: Fire up your legs and heart with these big-muscle jumps. Every time you drop into the squat, make sure you're getting weight in your heels. Push out of it, using your arms. You can get more air if you throw the arms upward. Land back into your squat for more!
13. Jumping Lunges: If you're wanting to tone your legs and thighs, these lunges will do the trick! Make sure your feet stay hip-width apart, not too wide and not crossing behind or in front of each other. Use your arms for momentum and find that perfect 90-degree bend.
- Step 1: Begin in the lunge position. Place your feet far enough away form each other to create 90-degree bends in both knees. The front knee should not pass over the front toes. The back knee, ideally, should touch or be a few inches from the ground. Chest is lifted.
- Step 2: Power yourself out of the lunge by squeezing your glutes and core. Use your arms to help with propulsion, and make sure both feet leave the ground at the same time.
- Step 3: Land in your lunge with the opposite leg forward with both feet hitting the ground at the same time. The chest stays lifted. That is one rep. Continue alternating legs for allotted time.
14. Bench Jumps: These might look like they're powered by all legs, but that's not the case. Bench or box jumps require an amazing core to assist the lift and guide the forward direction. Muscles get stronger, faster when they work together. Land with soft knees on top, stand up straight, then step down to repeat.
- Step 1: Stand in front of the bench, about 1 foot back so that your knees and shins do not make contact with the bench on the way up. your feet should be shoulder-width apart and the knees, bent.
- Step 2: Using your core and arms, pull yourself up first then over to land on the bench. The knees are soft so your muscles absorb the shock of the landing instead of your joints. Get your entire foot on the bench, not just the ball of your foot.
- Step 3: Land in a half squat on top of the bench. Stand up and safely step one foot down at a time. Repeat the jump. Note: Do not jump backward off of the bench as it could cause serious injury to the Achillês or knees.
15. Pushup Jack: Abs and arms, abs and arms! Start in a high plank with your feet together. Drop the chest, hips and thighs in a straight line to your push up as you jack the feet wide. Exhale to push out of it and bring the legs together again.
- Step 1: Begin in a plank position with the hands slightly wider than shoulders and the body in a straight line from head to heels. Begin with the feet together.
- Step 2: Jump the feet wide at the same time you bend the elbows into a pushup, going as low as you can. At the bottom of your pushup, keep your hips from sagging or piking by really engaging the core. Using the power from the bottom of your pushup, exhale and press yourself to the top again as the feet come back together.
Pick up that barbell, girlfriend, and own it. These resistance moves can really push you mentally and help you command those muscles. Don't be afraid to go heavy! Any time you use weights, remember to keep your sets between eight and 12 reps, or lower for bigger weights. Quality over quantity!
16. Romanian Deadlift: You know what's good for you? A deadlift. For this move, you have to keep your weight in your heels at all times, able to wiggle your toes whenever. Slightly arch the back or keep it flat – never rounded! The weights must stay close to the body, so close that you can feel them slide up and down your legs. You'll work your hamstrings and butt while strengthen your low back.
Step 1: Hold your dumbbells so they’re resting on your thighs, palms facing you. Shoulders should be back with your back slightly arched and your knees a slight bend.
Step 2: Lower the dumbbells down to your shins by pushing your your butt back as far as you can, keeping your weight in your heels. Keep dumbbells close to your body, gaze forward and keep shoulder back. Return to starting position in a slow and controlled motion, driving the hips forward to stand tall. That is one rep. Repeat for allotted time.
» Read more: Why Women Should Deadlift (And How To Do It)
17. Push Press: Get the stronger shoulders you've always wanted while working on your abs. Start by standing tall, then dipping for momentum as you push up. Repeat steps two and three for several reps. Go ahead and go heavy!
- Step 1: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Hold your dumbbells, so that your elbows are bent and they are slightly above your shoulders.
- Step 2: Slowly bend you knees so that they are just in a small squat.
- Step 3: Use the power from your legs to thrust your body upwards as you push you weights above your head and hold. Return to the starting position and repeat.
18. Kettlebell Goblet Squat: Pick up a decently heavy kettlebell and go through this one nice and slow to really absorb the burn. Keep the kettlebell just underneath the chin and hinge the hips to squat as your chest stays lifted. Push out of it and let the hips come forward to complete the rep. Even though you have weight in front, you want to focus your pressure in the heels and posterior side of the body.
- Step 1: Stand with feet outside of the shoulders so you can drop into your squat with good posture. Hold the kettlebell at chest height — the bottom of the kettlebell should be no lower than the bra line.
- Step 2: Send the hips back and down, letting the knees bend as you go. The knees stay behind the toes and your weight goes into your heels. You should be able to wiggle your toes at the bottom of the squat.
- Step 3: Exhale and press into the heels as your raise yourself up to standing. Push the hips to the front. Think of your hips as the leader of this movement, guiding the body down and back up while your squeeze the glutes and quadriceps.
19. Front Squat: A cousin to the goblet squat, you can work the legs, butt, back, core and shoulders with the front squat. Try to break parallel, which means you want to try to get the hips lower than the knees. That will take flexibility to get into and strength to get out of!
- Step 1: Begin by standing tall with the dumbbells lifted to shoulder height. Have them turned perpendicular to the body and tuck in the elbows. Your feet are shoulder-width apart, prepared for a squat.
- Step 2: Keep the weights at the shoulders as you hinge your hips backward, letting them drop behind you into a squat. The knees stay behind the toes. Try to get at least parallel with you knees or drop it as low as Crystal does here.
20. Bridge with Ring: The ring of fire can do wonders for your body, especially the thighs. Come into your bridge and squeeze the ring. You'll stabilize through the glutes (burn) and actively work the inner thighs (double burn) while maintaining a strong core (triple burn).
- Step 1: Lie down on a mat and bend your knees. Place the ring between your thighs.
- Step 2: Raise your hips off the mat while keeping your arms at your sides. As you lift your hips, squeeze the ring between your thighs and hold the squeeze.
- Step 3: Lower your hips down, but don’t stop squeezing. Keep your abs tight throughout the movement and be careful not to jerk your hips up and down. The motion should be slow and controlled.
Most of these exercises do not require equipment, but for those that do, keep in mind that you're only using your bodyweight to train. You're asking your muscle groups to work together. Use good form and always use your core no matter what you're doing
21. Prisoner Get Ups: Get up off the floor without using your hands! You end up pushing all of your body weight into one leg, requiring assistance from the core. Make sure you alternate the legs with each rep.
- Step 1: Start by kneeling on the ground with your knees hip-width apart and your hands behind your head.
- Step 2: Slowly stand up, leg at a time. Squeeze your abs and glutes while standing up.
- Step 3: Squeeze your abs and glutes while returning to the starting position, one leg at a time. That is one rep.
22. Hand Release Pushups: This is the best way to challenge your pushup strength. When you get to the bottom and release the hands, you're starting your pushup with zero momentum and power. You'll get double the results compared to a regular pushup. No peeling!
- Step 1: Begin in high plank. Your body should be a straight, diagonal line from your head to your heels.
- Step 2: Keeping your core tight and squeezing your glutes, lower your chest completely down to the floor under control, angling your elbows out to no more than 45 degrees.
- Step 3: At the bottom of the movement, raise your hands up off the floor slightly by squeezing your shoulder blades together. Place your hand back on the floor and push back up into high plank. That is one rep. Repeat for allotted time.
23. Pull-Ups: Lift your entire body with just your arms! Whether you have an underhand or overhand grip, you'll really bust your abs, arms and back with this one. You might not be able to do it, yet, but you can work your way towards it be strength training: bent over rows, inverted rows, assisted pull-ups with bands and more. Learn how to work up to a unassisted pull-up here.
24. Crossover Plank: You could just hold a plank, or you would walk with it. Cross the hands over to step to one side, drop into a low plank, then push out of it and return to the other side. Keep this pattern going to work the shoulders and core.
- Step 1: Come into your high plank with your shoulders over the wrists, fingers forward and spread. Bring the feet together and zip up the inner thighs to help you streamline the body: legs, hips, back and chest in a straight line. Be prepared to move to the side.
- Step 2: Cross one hand in front of the other as you move the entire body over to that side. Step one leg out wider to support your shift.
- Step 3: Uncross the arms and return to the high plank by bringing the feet together again.
- Step 4: Drop one elbow down without opening the hips up to the side. You can spread your feet here if needed.
- Step 5: Drop the other elbow down until you're in a low plank. Make sure the elbows are straight under the shoulders and you squeezing the lats to create a nice, hollow space under the armpits. This will allow for the lats and core to hold the position rather than cramming the tension into your shoulders.
- Step 6: Reverse the drop to return to your high plank. Cross the other arm in front to perform the exercise in the opposite direction. You can always do this exercise on your knees so long as you control the hips.