Lift Like a Girl

16 January 2016

Sarah Crouch is the Health & Wellness director at the Suffolk Family YMCA.

Take a look around any gym today, and you will see toned, athletic women. I dare say, “strong” is taking the place of simply “skinny.” Gone are the days of women fretting over just how small a size skinny jean they can fit in. Forget the 3lb dumbbells and hours on an elliptical—welcome to a fitness world that encourages and applauds strength, tone and athleticism in women. Welcome boxing, weight-lifting, and functional training. Women are embracing the idea of lifting weights, working on speed and going toe-to-toe with any challenge put before them. Today’s women are strong inside and out! 

So, where do you start? How do you begin to “lift like a girl” and get the most from the time you are spending in the gym? Perhaps more importantly, and the question I get so often, how do I start without getting hurt? That answer is simple—start with the exercises that have the easiest learning curve but give you the most from the movement. Here is a great workout to start with.  Expect some soreness, and yes, it should be challenging, but you will finish feeling successful and motivated for your next workout.

Keep in mind, you should choose a weight that allows you to complete the full movement for the recommended number of repetitions. I find a circuit is a great place to start, so I encourage you to complete eight reps of each exercise and complete three circuits. If you are not too sore, you can do up to five circuits.

Sample Workout:
1A  Goblet Squat – The goal is consistency. Only squat as low as you can comfortably go but try to achieve that with each repetition. (To perform a goblet squat, stand holding a light kettlebell by the horns close to your chest. This is your starting position. Squat down between your legs until your hamstrings are on your calves. Keep your chest and head up and your back straight. At the bottom position, pause and use your elbows to push your knees out. Return to the starting position.

1B   Pushup – These can be modified and done on a wall or from your knees.

1C  Russian Deadlift (RDL) with dumbbells - Begin by setting dumbbells on a step or bench so they are just a couple inches below your knee caps. The dumbbells should be over your mid-foot the entire time. Use your hips to pull the weights up (think about thrusting them forward) and then stick your butt back to lower back down. Gently set the dumbbells on the step or bench after each rep.
1D Inverted Row -It helps to think of these as “reverse push-ups”. It’s the same movement as a push-up but in the opposite direction.

Try to complete the entire circuit with little to no rest. Once you have completed it in its entirety, rest 30-60 seconds before repeating round two.

If you liked this workout, stop by and see any of our YMCA personal trainers that can help you progress to your next workout. You will be proud to “Lift like a girl!”