Look strong. Feel strong. Be strong. Our top 4 “WomenStrong” exercises.
The free weights area in the gym hasn’t just been for men for a long time now. With the growing fitness trend in Europe there is a constantly increasing number of women interested in strength and building muscle. And this is a very good thing, as the trend towards a strong and healthy body is overtaking the antiquated beauty ideal of the skinny model. The new mission statement is therefore: ‘strong is the new beautiful’!
Strong is the new beautiful!
The four most popular ‘WomenStrong’ exercises
We wanted to know from our female athletes which exercises cause a stir in the weights room, and asked all four of them: what are your favourite WomenStrong exercises?
Our trainings expert and certified Sports Scientist Sebastian Kaindl explains what is special about each exercise and what you need to look out for during the execution of them in the gym.
Charlotte: “My favourite exercise that makes me feel SO strong is the sumo deadlift. I’m chasing the goal to be able to deadlift double my body weight. I’ve got 16 kilograms to add to my lift and I’m there. As soon as I hit 100kg I felt incredible and now I’m on 110kg and there’s no stopping me! It’s a pretty great feeling pulling such a heavy weight from the floor!”
The sumo deadlift puts less strain on the back and more emphasis on the hip and leg-muscles compared to a traditional deadlift. For this reason alone, it’s known as the best exercise for the glutes. The grip is shoulder wide here as well. However, the stance is with the legs further apart. The exact distance that the legs should be apart depends on the individual mobility of the hips and the person’s physique. As a rule of thumb, the shins should appear vertical when viewed from the front.
You’ll achieve the correct starting position by keeping a straight back, holding tension and pushing your knees outward; this makes the hips drop slightly. When lifting the bar, the knees are pushed outward and, with a raised chest, the bar is lifted along the body – the path of the bar should create a line when viewed from the side, and the back should stay straight during the whole movement.
Important: The Sumo Deadlift isn’t a squat, i.e. in the starting position the hips are higher than the knees.
Pro tip: when doing a deadlift, you should always try to ‘bend the bar around your legs’ - this activates the latissimus dorsi muscle and helps stabilise the back.
Lily: “I love Hip Thrust! Not only to improve the shape of your butt, but it also improved lower back strength. Its secret bonus is that it has shown relieve knee pain! Glutes play a key role in helping to take stress off the spine by sharing the load between the back, legs, and hips during locomotion or standing as well as preventing the lower spine from over-rounding. A strong butt means there’s less stress and strain on the rest of your body. Bye bye to lower back pain. Strong back is a good foundation for gains everywhere else.”
The Hip Thrust consists of a hip extension and is therefore especially demanding for the glutes and rear thigh muscles. For this exercise you lay down on a bench with only your shoulders touching it and position a long barbell onto the hips (here it’s advisable to use some cushioning / padding). The feet are fixed on the floor. Now the abs are tensed so that the spine is fixed during the movement. The shoulders are pressed into the bench and the hips extended. In the final position the body should be parallel to the floor, from the shoulders to the knees, and the hips should be completely extended.
Important: the pelvis shouldn’t be tilted backwards, i.e. the glutes shouldn’t be tensed unnecessarily. Although you’ll feel your glutes more, this doesn’t mean that they’re doing more work. However, during this movement the lower back is under much more strain.
Pro Tip: through a higher foot position the range of motion can be increased. Elastic resistance bands can also be recommended for additional resistance.
Dumbbell Shoulder Press
Erin: ”I love doing dumbbell shoulder press. Building the shoulders makes the waist look smaller. I feel like this exercise helps me carry myself better, too!”
The shoulder press is a classic exercise for pronounced shoulder growth. Through the use of dumbbells, the range of motion can be increased without taking away tension from the middle part of the shoulder muscle. Sitting down, two dumbbells are held at approx. ear-height and then pressed completely upwards above the head. The dumbbells shouldn’t be brought together in an arch but pushed straight up so that the tension remains on the shoulder and it doesn’t strain the neck too much. It is also recommended to hold the dumbbells a little bit in front of the body so that the upper arms are pointing approx. 20°-30° to the front, as this is the safest position for the shoulder joint (the so-called scapula-angle). The thumbs should always point towards the head.
Pro Tip: those who have back problems can do these exercise kneeling in a lunge position, as this fixes the pelvis and the back can’t be overextended.
Ariana: “I love Kettlebell-Swings , it’s an exercise I could perform at any time no matter the muscle I’m working out that day, keep my heart rate high, works every part of the body an keeps me activated during my training, I love performing it between sets to keep my metabolism high.”
Kettlebell-Swings are a very versatile exercise. Primarily the posterior muscle chain (consisting of the lower back, glutes, and rear thigh muscles) is worked out. However, the training effect for all core muscles and the upper back should not be overlooked. Beyond that, the swings are also very useful to increase your heart rate. That’s why this exercise is often used during HIIT and as a workout-finisher. In the starting positon the kettlebells are down at the heels. Then, making sure to keep a straight back, you grab these with both hands and bend the hips by pushing the glutes backwards. Through an explosive extension of the hips the kettlebell is now swung forwards and up. In the downward motion it’s necessary to slow down the downward swinging kettlebell through bending the hips and then to catapult it up again in one fluid motion. The movement takes place approx. 90% in the hips when done correctly, accompanied by minimal movement in the knee joint – the back stays straight at all times.
Pro Tipp: those who can already do a perfect kettlebell swing can get their partner to slightly push down on the kettlebell during the downward movement. The higher speed leads to an increased effort to slow down the kettlebell and increases the swing frequency. This makes the exercise even more intense and the heart rate is increased even further.
SUPPORT YOUR GOALS WITH THE “WOMEN´S PRODUCT OF THE YEAR” – ISO100 HYDROLYZED
Besides winning the title “Best Isolate of the Year” five years in a row, we are proud that ISO100 was also nominated by women for women as the “Women’s Product of the Year” on BodyBuilding.com. With about 9.4 million members, Bodybuilding.com is the world’s largest web portal for fitness and weight training and gives out annual awards for the best-selling and most popular products in the scene..
The development towards a healthier and more self-confident ‘Me’ is therefore going in the right direction. #WomenStrong picks up this trend and wants to encourage women to stand up for their goals and dreams. For this purpose, we’ve asked four female Dymatize athletes what it means to them to be ‘strong’ and how fitness and weightlifting helped them to not only be strong women, but also develop strong personalities.
Here you can find our article ‘WomenStrong’