There are certain exercises that have magical powers. Exercises that make you feel like an unstoppable force of nature.
These exercises are immediate confidence boosters. They’re vessels of empowerment.
If you’re avoiding these exercises in the gym because they “look scary,” you’re missing out on one of the best benefits of lifting weights.
Because, for women, lifting weights is about much more than just looking better naked. It’s about feeling better, it’s about being empowered, and it’s about feeling proud of what our bodies can DO rather than how we’ve been told we’re supposed to look.
Want to be empowered? Practice these 5 exercises in the gym.
Bodyweight Chin Ups.
Do you know that only 15-20% of men can’t do a full chin up?
So how fricken’ awesome must it be to be cooler than 80% of men? Yeah.
Something about hoisting your bodyweight up and over a bar is just… so rad.
Can’t do one yet? No worries.
Beginner: Inverted Rows
Intermediate: Band Assisted Chin Up
Advanced: Bodyweight Chin Up
The cool thing about deadlifting? There’s no cheating, no half-reps, no “well you kinda did it.”
Either you lift it, or you don’t.
I think my friend Jennifer Vogelgesang Blake (it’s a mouthful—we call her JVB) sums it up best:
“Women who lift don’t slouch because after a spending a certain amount of time pulling backward on a weighted barbell, standing tall without it is easy. Inevitably and over time, women who lift have learned that it’s OK to take up space because lifting relatively heavy weights is a skill that leads to a host of benefits that can’t help but expand beyond the weight room.”
New to deadlifting? Gotcha covered.
Beginner: KB deadlift
Intermediate: Barbell Deadlift
Advanced: 1.5 x Bodyweight Deadlift
Want more beginner deadlift tips? Check out this article.
I included bench press on this list because, I think it’s commonly thought of as a “bro exercise.”
And I think that’s BS.
You have just as much a right to bench as any dude does. So hold your head high, walk your peachy ass straight into the middle of the gym, commandeer a bench, and get to work.
Not quite there yet? Try this:
Beginner: Dumbbell Bench
Intermediate: Barbell Bench
Advanced: 1x Bodyweight Bench Press
Whoever decided that push ups from the knees were “girl push ups” was out of their damn minds.
That being said, push ups (from the toes) are one of the exercises that many of my female clients tell me they’d like to be able to do a lot of.
If you’re able to do 20+ push ups from your toes with perfect form, I’d say you’re kind of a badass.
Beginner: Elevated Push Up
Intermediate: 5-10 Full Reps
Advanced: 20+ Reps OR Feet Elevated Push Ups
Nothing like getting upside down to feel (and look) like an unstoppable badass.
Humans were meant to stand upright. The ability to and master your inverted bodyweight takes incredible upper body & core strength, plus balance and coordination.
Handstands are basically the ultimate feat of badassery.
My friend and handstand pro, Brit Rand has tons of tips on getting better at handstands. But my favorite?
“Stop telling yourself you can’t do a handstand.”
Here are a couple progressions to work your way up to a full handstand:
Beginner: Donkey Kicks
Intermediate: Wall kick ups
Advanced: Unassisted Handstand Hold (look ma, no hands legs!)
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