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The 15 Best Strength Exercises for Women

Matt Skeffington

Matt’s primary role at Dynamic Strength and Conditioning is to make sure that our coaches and clients are consistently improving, all while operatin...

Matt’s primary role at Dynamic Strength and Conditioning is to make sure that our coaches and clients are consistently improving, all while operatin...

Aug 5 13 minutes read

Our 30-Day Jumpstart Program for Women starts August 9th!

Join the movement! 💪


There is an incredible female movement going on at DSC!

It is allowing women to step out of their comfort zone and into a world of better confidence, strength, and fitness.

It is helping women from a variety of fitness backgrounds get into a consistent workout routine. 

That movement is our Women’s Only Beginners Group Training and I could not be more proud. 

We knew women wanted to look and feel better. 

We knew they wanted to get into a consistent routine.

We also knew that working out alone or starting a new program can be extremely intimidating.

That is exactly why we created our Women's Beginners Group Training Program. 

Our first group started with 8, hard-working ladies and we had a blast. 

Fast-forward to today and our program now consists of 4 classes and over 100 inspiring women. 

We are so proud of these ladies for stepping out of their comfort zone and they are seeing some incredible results. Checkout our top female transformations, HERE.

One of the biggest reasons our women have been so successful is that we make getting stronger a priority. 

Increasing strength in females is crucial for:

  • Building muscle and tone

  • Improving the speed of your metabolism

  • Shredding fat

  • Improving bone health

  • Building confidence

  • Improving flexibility

  • Reducing injury, aches & pains

To get you started, today we are covering our 15 favorite strength exercises for women.

Enjoy! 

#1 Goblet Squat


Quite possibly the most important movement you can do. A proper squat demonstrates you have adequate range-of-motion of your ankles, knees and hips and solid lower-body strength. Many women come in thinking they cannot squat because of previous knee pain. By keeping the range-of-motion small and teaching them proper technique, it is not long before they are squatting pain-free, with weights!

Key Points:

  • Start feet shoulder width with toes slightly pointed out
  • Stay tall with stomach braced throughout
  • Initiate movement by sitting back and pushing knees out
  • Go as low as you can with no pain and good neutral spine position
  • Finish tall with glutes squeezed
  • Start with 2-3 sets of 8 reps

#2 Push-Up


One area that most women want to improve upon is upper-body strength. Our favorite exercise to improve just that is the push-up. Focus on this exercise and not only will your arms tone but you will build one solid core! If new to the push-up, be sure to start from and elevated position and work closer to the floor as your strength improves.

Key Points:

  • Start hands directly under shoulders
  • Keep straight line from head to heels
  • Keep glutes squeezed and hips tucked
  • Lower entire body until arms are parallel with body
  • Keep arms back at 45 degree angle
  • Start with 3 sets of 6-10 reps

#3 Kettlebell Jackhammer


The jackhammer is one of our favorite ab exercises here at Dynamic. It is a great way to build anterior ab strength and is great for all levels. We use them in our warm-ups, strength circuits and even as part of our cardio finishers.

Key Points:

  • Start kettlebell over your chest with your knees bent and your low back flat to floor
  • As you extend kettlebell overhead reach legs out legs
  • Go slow and exhale through mouth
  • Press low back into floor 
  • You should feel abs working
  • Start with 3 sets of 10 reps

#4 Inverted Row

 

Rows are a crucial exercise for keeping your shoulders healthy and improving the strength of your upper-back. We love the inverted over other traditional rowing exercises because they incorporate your entire body and are also great for building core strength. Talk about a win-win!

Key Points:

  • Start with straight line from head to heals, arms straight
  • Initiate movement by pulling shoulder blades towards each other
  • Pull yourself up, finishing arms in line with body
  • Finish by lowering yourself to starting position
  • Start with 3 sets of 8-10 reps

#5 KB Swing


Kettlebell swings are a staple for many of our members. The dynamic, fast paced motion makes the swing a great exercise for getting your heart-rate up and burning calories. The majority of the work comes from your hips, hamstrings and glutes making the swing a great choice for individuals with bad knees, feet and ankles. The hamstrings and glutes are two of the most important stabilizers of the knee so strengthening these two muscles is a must for improving knee pain. 

Key Points:

  • Before trying the KB swing, be sure to master the Kettlebell Deadlift or RDL first 
  • Make sure all the work is done through your hips
  • Keep posture strong and tall throughout 
  • At the top position, finish tall with glutes squeezed and legs straight
  • Start with 8-10 swings followed by :30-:45 of rest for 6-10 rounds

#6 Band Anti-Rotation Press

 

The anti-rotation press is our favorite exercise for that typically tough to hit area of your lateral oblique. By pressing the band out, your lateral obliques need to work double time to prevent yourself from rotating. 

Key Points:

  • Set up in athletic position, feet shoulder width apart
  • Start cable handle or band at chest level with fingers interlocked
  • Brace abs throughout
  • Press handle or band out front so arms extend straight
  • Hold for a long exhale and feel abs tighten then return to starting position
  • Start with 3 sets of 8-10 reps/side

#7 Goblet Split-Squat


Our second favorite lower-body strength exercise is the split-squat. Like the squat, the split squat is great for improving lower-body strength and mobility. We increase the challenge here by putting you on one leg which helps to improve balance and flexibility and strength. Our women’s group members master this exercises before moving on to more advanced exercises like lunges. 

Key Points:

  • Start in a long lunge position with front foot flat and back heel up
  • Lower yourself straight down, keep straight line from back knee to head
  • Keep weight in front foot
  • Without allowing front knee to drift forward, go as low as possible without losing position
  • Push through front foot to return to starting position
  • Start with 2-3 sets of 8 reps/side

#8 Planks (front and side)

When is comes to ab training, the plank is number one on our list! It challenges your abs and obliques to work to stabilize both your spine and pelvis.  This is a great teaching tool for how to brace and how your posture should be while doing just about every other strength and cardio exercise. Getting good at planks will have a great impact on your posture, strength and performance.

 

Key Points (front plank)

  • Start on elbows with fists directly under your eyes
  • Keep straight line from head to heels
  • Keep hips tucked under and glutes squeezed
  • Focus on long exhales through your mouth
  • Start with 3 sets of :10-:30 holds/side

 
Key points (side plank): 

  • Start on side with elbow directly under shoulder
  • Keep hips squared and high 
  • Keep straight line from head to heels
  • Keep hips tucked under and glutes squeezed
  • Focus on long exhales through your mouth 
  • You should feel lateral ab or side
  • Start with 3 sets of :10-:30 holds/side

Ready to take your planks to the next level? Click HERE for 8 new and challenging plank variations!

#9 Sled Push

 
The sled push is one of our FAVORITE lower-body strength exercises. It is great for our members who come in with bad backs, knees and/or shoulders. The controlled, concentric-only leg action places much less stress on the knees than traditional lower-body exercises like squats and lunges. They are great for getting your heart-rate up and burning fat, but also great for building some serious lower-body strength -- a great way to improve and prevent lower-limb pain. 

Key points:

  • Keep arms straight and straight line head to back foot
  • Keep body leaning at 45 degree angle 
  • March forward one step at a time keeping head and upper body still
  • Start with 3-5 reps of 15-25yd march with :30-1:00 rest between reps

#10 Body Saw

 
Warning! These will make your abs sore! If you do not have access to an exercise slider, use a towel on a smooth surface or furniture movers on carpet.

Key Points:

  • Start on knees with forearms on ball
  • Have hips tucked under, glutes squeezed and abs braced throughout
  • Start motion by letting ball rollout up arms
  • Your hips and head should move together towards the ball
  • Maintain a straight line from head to knees throughout
  • Go as low as possible without losing spine position and return
  • Start with 2-3 sets of 6-10 reps 

#11 Farmer Carry

 


The farmer carry is a favorite amongst our members. Think of these as a weighted and moving plank. Walking with weights is a great way to improve the strength of your grip, shoulders, core and hips. Carries challenge you to control your spine and aid in improving core stability and even improve cardio and fat-loss by elevating your heart-rate.

Key Points:

  • Start with 2 kettlebells or dumbells in hands
  • Squeeze weights hard and stay tall
  • Keep shoulders back and abs braced
  • Do not allow weights to move around
  • Start with 3 sets of 40-50 yd walks

#12 1-Leg Deadlift


The 1-leg deadlift is one of our favorite hamstring and glute strengthening exercise. This translates to better workout performance for you and some strong, healthy knees. The instability of the movements is a great way to improve your balance as well.

Key Points: 

  • Start tall with a KB or DB in each hand
  • Start by softening knee of down leg
  • Slowly reach back leg long and allow chest to fall forward
  • Keep chest tall and stomach braced
  • In bottom position, there should be straight line from head to back heel
  • Quickly return to starting position and squeeze glutes
  • Start with 3 sets of 6-8 reps/side

If you are new to the SLDL, start with the body-weight version shown below. Instead of holding a weight, counterbalance yourself by reaching your hands as far out as you can.

#13 1/2 Kneeling 1-Arm Press


Our FAVORITE exercise for shoulder strength is the 1/2 kneeling 1-Arm Press. You can use a dumbbell (DB) or kettlebell (KB) with this exercise. The press overhead works to strengthen your arms and shoulders, while the 1/2 kneeling position challenges your abs and your glutes to keep you in a solid, upright position.

Key points:

  • Start on right knee with the left foot out front 
  • Think about creating 90 degree angles with your legs
  • Keeping posture tall and abs braced start KB or DB in racked position
  • Keeping body still, exhale and press weight overhead
  • Your bicep should finish next to ear
  • Return to starting position and repeat
  • Start with 3-4 set of 8-12 reps/side

#14 Kettlebell Deadlift


The kettlebell (KB) deadlift is one of the best exercises to strengthen and shape your glutes and hamstrings. It is typically one of the most challenging exercise for our members to master so take your time!  Beginners initially want to squat the movement by excessively bending their knees. The KB deadlift is a hinge movement where you want to move at the hips and allow your torso to fold forward. This movement not only teaches our members to safely deadlift in the gym but also how to safely pick objects off the floor outside of the gym. This is also a great lead into learning the KB swing.

Key Points

  • Start one KB directly between your feet
  • Take a hip to shoulder width stance, toes pointed out slightly
  • Soften knees and push hips back (do not let knees travel forward)
  • Keep spine in neutral position with shoulders back
  • Grab KB and drive through heels to stand up
  • Finish tall with glutes squeezed
  • Start with 3 sets of 8 to 10 reps

#15 1-Arm Dumbbell Row


The dumbbell row is a fantastic postural and core exercise. The weight challenges the strength of your upper-back (great for improving posture) as well as your abs as you have to fight to not twist during the rowing motion. You will feel these the next day!

Key Points:

  • Start shoulder width with one hand on bench 
  • Keep knees soft throughout
  • Without twisting, pull shoulder blade toward spine and row dumbbell toward rib cage
  • Stop arm in line with body
  • Start with 3 sets of 10 reps/side



Our 30-Day Jumpstart Program for Women starts Monday!

Get into the best shape of your life in 30-Day!

Join Our 30-Day Jumpstart Program for Women!

30-days of support, guidance, and RESULTS!

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