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Top 6 Strength training movements women should do every week

March 21st, 2024 | 4 min. read

By Jen Azevedo

As a little girl, you were likely offered ballet class, swimming, or maybe martial arts. But what nobody did was teach you how to lift weights. 

Strength training has always been considered a man’s sport. If you walk into almost any gym, you will be greeted by blaring music, the smell of sweat, and a room filled with teen boys and men lifting weights.

This environment turns girls and women away for many reasons. But gender discrepancy in weight rooms has little to do with females not wanting to lift. The primary obstacle is not knowing how to strength-train.

The Paseo Club is a social club in the Santa Clarita Valley that has supported its members for twenty years in fitness and health. We have tennis, pickleball, swimming, and fitness facilities for active people of all different backgrounds and abilities.

In this article, we will share what strength training is, why women need to strength train, and what movements women should do every week to best support their health.

What is the definition of strength training?

Strength training is a form of exercise that uses weights or force as a means of resistance to the body. Strength training can include weights, barbells, resistance bands, or even body weight.

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Why has strength training historically been dominated by men?

Men see strength training as an essential part of being an athlete. They often perceive themselves as naturally strong and that they should use weights for exercise. Becoming more muscular and “bulking up” is a desired outcome for most men. 

Women typically were guided to do cardio activities such as running and calisthenics. Yoga and Pilates also tend to be more female-dominated physical activities. Women are usually not taught how to strength train, and many do not want to lift weights for fear of becoming too big and masculine in appearance.

Most weight rooms are primarily populated by men. The environment can be intimidating — especially if you are new to strength training and don’t know what you are doing.

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How does strength training benefit women?

Strength training benefits women almost exactly how it benefits men — and those benefits are extensive.

Increased strength 
Exercising with weights helps to make you stronger. After just a few weeks of strength training, you will find that you can lift heavier, do more reps, and tire less easily. Your body’s composition will become leaner and more defined as well.

Higher metabolism
Adding muscle mass by lifting increases energy expenditure and resting metabolic rates. In short, more muscles will burn more calories.

Improved athleticism
Cross-training with weights is an excellent way to get better, more powerful, and have greater endurance for your favorite sport. Whether you run, play tennis, swim, or any other sport, you will become a better athlete with weights.

Increased bone density
Strength training puts stress on the bones, which can activate bone-forming cells, increasing density and durability.

crop_comp_IMG-2699 - EditedIncreased muscle mass
Muscle mass decreases by 3–8% every decade after the age of 30. Strength training is the most effective method to slow this process.

Increased functional fitness
Do you need to move your sofa? Carry your sick kid to bed? Hike up a mountain to enjoy the views? These are all examples of how we need (and want) to be strong in our day-to-day lives. Functional fitness and strength training are the key to making sure you are fit for all your practical activities.

Reduced cardiovascular mortality
Research shows that even as little as one hour per week of strength training can reduce your risks of cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality.

What myths still persist about women who strength train?

Many women still believe that by lifting weights they will bulk up and that weightlifting will change them to no longer appear “feminine.” This stereotype is what is preventing so many women from getting healthier.

Contrary to the myth about getting big, weight training does not make women look like Arnold Schwarzenegger. In fact, you will likely find that your clothes fit a little better and your body is more toned. 

crop_comp_IMG-2697 - EditedWhat are the top strength training movements women should do every week?

The “Big 3” in weight training are squats, deadlifts, and bench press. These Olympic lifts are the foundational compound movements for building strength.  

Squats work the quads and the core, deadlifts target the hamstrings, glutes, quads, core, and forearms, and bench press strengthens the chest, triceps, and shoulders.  

While the Big 3 are a strong start, they miss some major muscle groups. Paying attention to the following six main exercise movement categories helps to attack the body in a balanced and comprehensive way. 

The six main exercise movement categories are:

  1. Push: Pushups, shoulder press, bench press, and sled push
  2. Pull: Row, lat pulldowns, sled pull, ring rows, and pull-ups
  3. Hinge: Deadlifts and kettlebell swings
  4. Squat: Squat, lunge and step-ups
  5. Carry: Farmer walk and waiter walk
  6. Rotate: Woodchop, cable rotation, and Pallof press

comp_IMG-4377Strength training for longevity

Although women have historically not been guided to participate in strength training, they need this form of exercise as much as men do. Strength training is necessary for good health, athleticism, an active metabolism, and overall resilience and durability.

The Department for Health and Human Services recommends strength training exercises for all major muscle groups at least two times a week for men and women. 

It can be confusing to know where to begin when you want to learn a new method of exercise. The Paseo Club staff can help you! The club offers personal training, small group training, and group fitness classes. We also have over 10,000 square feet of gym space for when you want to train on your own.

We have dozens of classes each week that build strength. Check out some of our favorites — HIIT in 30, TRX and Core, Strictly Strength, Core Tone and Strength, and Blood Flow Restriction Training — just to name a few.

The Paseo Club is more than just a fitness club. We offer several amenities, including childcare, spa services, a sauna and steam room, a cafe and clubhouse, and much, much more.

If you want to connect more with your Santa Clarita community, the Paseo Club may be the place for you. Schedule a tour and check out our tennis and pickleball courts, junior Olympic pool, and fitness and gym areas. You can also meet members, staff, and instructors.
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Jen Azevedo

Jen Azevedo is a tennis professional, pickleball professional, personal trainer, group exercise instructor, and the general manager of the Paseo Club. She loves the community at the Paseo Club and that it is also a safe and fun place for her daughter. Jen’s favorite activities are joining her tribe for trail races or her partners for tennis matches. Occasionally Jen slows down to relax with a book — she reads over 100 a year!