We all know that a varied workout regime is that best thing you can do for overall fitness, strength and wellness. Here we share our top 4 moves that we think every women should be doing.
There’s been a lot of hype around cardio since cross fit and heavier weight based workouts hit the scene. But any workout regime that omits cardio is missing out on some seriously important physiological benefits.
Cardio is the best thing for heart health, it increases cognitive function and mental acuity, boosts the hormones and neurotransmittors involved in mood regulation, and it’s one of the most effective ways to improve insulin sensitivity. Contrary to popular belief, intense bought of cardio also stimulates the release of Growth Hormone - which is the main hormone released in strength training. Growth hormone is essential for regulating body composition and metabolism.
Squats are one of the most feared exercises by women, and for good reason. Squats have a massive hormonal response, greatly simulate the nervous system and are one the best exercises for gaining muscle. Because the legs and glutes make up some of the largest muscles in the body, they also yield a comparatively big calorie burn compared to other exercises. Doing heavily weighted, low rep squats will increase your muscle mass and, in theory, can contribute to larger thighs but not all squats are created equal. There are ways to perform squats so that you can still reap all of the hormonal benefits without bulking up, and as squats build muscular strength quickly, you’ll also be gaining to metabolic benefits of increased muscle mass. Squat jumps will seriously challenge both your muscular and cardiovascular system, and because you are performing a body weight exercise rather than stationary weighted exercise, you’ll engage far more muscles and create a leaner muscle with more functional strength. Getting squat jumps into a HIIT format is even more beneficial - set a timer on your phone to 20 seconds work, 10 seconds rest and perform 8 sets of as many squat jumps as possible.
FULL PRESS UPS
The ability to carry your own body weight is an extremely important factor in ageing well. Traditional fitness evaluations all include press ups as a core movement that you should be able to do - but surprisingly, many women AND men aren’t able to complete more than a few full press ups (did you know that the ability to do 20 full press ups in a row is only considered ‘average’ for women in the 30’s??!). There are a lot of biased views in strength training as it refers to women - and one of the biggest is the ‘female press-up.’ Ladies, don’t give in to this. You can press your own body weight - I promise! Press ups are great because they engage so many muscle - shoulders, arms, back, core… so they may take a while to master. Dropping to your knees is a great way to build the technique and form so that you can work up to do full press ups, but if you aren’t there yet, make it a goal to get to full press ups within a month. If you’re already there, great - it’s time to build. There are a lot of creative modifications to press ups that help you build different forms of strength and target different muscles - T Press ups for core, spider press ups for chest and back, close arm grip for triceps. So have a play and see what works for you. Need a challenge?? See if you can get to 40 press up in a row within the next few months!
Yoga is known for challenging and stretching muscles, but it’s effects are far deeper than that. Yoga has been proven to lower cortisol levels, reduce adrenalin and stimulate brain calming GABA. While it’s difficult to appoint one pose as the master pose, there are some that tick more boxes than others. Inversions stimulate the pituitary gland, help clear the lymph, boost circulation and are great for mental clarity. They also stimulate the production of Thyroid Stimulating Hormone, which is another essential controller of metabolism. You don’t need to be an advanced yogi to do inversions. You can simply start with your feet supported up the wall. You can easily progress to shoulder stand, and work your way up to headstand after you build confidence.