Feel the burn in your legs, bum and tum with these strength-training exercises.
“There’s a misconception that if women lift weights, they’ll get bulky,” says Rishi Mirpuri, trainer and deputy general manager at Ultimate Performance Singapore. Client Chloe Tong’s lean physique is a prime example that this impression is moot.
This misjudgment could have arisen from seeing female body builders, but Rishi wants to make it clear that it’s not a straightforward conclusion. “If your goal is to improve body composition and work on muscle toning, then you’re going to be on a calorie deficit,” he explains. “It’s scientifically impossible to get bulky.”
The exercises Rishi has planned can either be done with bodyweight, or you can take it up a notch by incorporating dumbbells. Either way, you’re going to be working the muscles to get a trim tum, bum and pins.
If you’re new to these exercises, Rishi recommends working on the motions till you’re confident with your form. “Learn the movement first, feel the right muscles and then add weight or reps to progress,” he advises.
Not sure if you’ve got the right form even after you’ve followed the instructions to a T? Rishi recommends getting someone who knows what they’re doing to watch you.
For each of these exercises, do 15 to 20 reps or 10 to 12 reps if you add a weight. Go for 3 to 4 sets. If you’re pressed for time, try doing half the exercises on one day, and the other half on the next. Working out twice a week is all you need to see your strength progress.
Get into a plank position on the ﬂoor, with your hands shoulder width apart or slightly wider. ensure that your spine is neutral - neck to hip in a straight line. [A] Lower yourself towards the ﬂoor (until you’re an inch oﬀ ) by bending your arms, and keeping your elbows close to your body naturally. [B] push yourself back up to the starting position without letting your hips sag down.
Start with your knees on the ﬂoor ﬁrst, before progressing to a full pushup.
Place your hands in a neutral or underhand grip on the chin up bar, with your arms fully extended. [A] Keep your legs straight, bend your knees or cross your feet. Choose a position that you feel comfortable with and maintain it throughout. [B] Pull yourself up towards your hands and think about leading with your chest to meet the bar. Lift yourself up until your chin is over the bar. Slowly lower yourself back down into the original position, with your arms fully extended.
3 GLUTE BRIDGE
Position yourself lying on the ﬂoor, or lean your upper back on the edge of the bench (advanced). [A] Tuck your knees towards your buttocks, and place your feet hip width apart on the ground. Drive your hips up towards the ceiling by pushing through your heels. Your knees should remain in line with your feet. [B] At the top, your hips should be fully extended. Pause for 1-3 seconds before lowering your hips back to the ground.
TIP Be careful not to excessively arch your lower back.
4 SPLIT SQUAT
[A] Start in a lunge position (staggered stance) position. Stand with your front foot planted ﬂat on the ﬂoor, with the heel of your back foot raised up. Both your hips and back heel should be straight. This is your start and ﬁnish position for the movement. [B] Drop your back knee towards the ﬂoor and push your front knee forward as you lower yourself to the ground. Your back knee should be no more than an inch off the ground, with your front knee at roughly a 90 degree angle. Pause for a moment. Push through both legs and return to the starting position. Complete your reps on the same leg before changing sides.
TIP Start with your weaker leg in front.
5 FLAT REVERSE CRUNCH
[A] Lie face up on a ﬂat bench with your knees tucked towards your chest at 90 degrees. Hold onto the edge, with both hands beside your head. [B] Curl your lower back off the bench by squeezing your abdominals as hard as you can. Your knees will move towards your elbows. Go as far as you can before pausing for a second. Reverse slowly back to the original position.
6 INCLINE BENCH AB CRUNCH
[A] Lie face up on an incline bench with your feet ﬂat on the ﬂoor and hands placed on your ears. [B] take a breath, engage your abs and curl your back oﬀ the bench, bringing your sternum (breast bone) towards your belly button. Come up as high as you can, pause for 1 to 2 seconds, and exhale throughout. Your feet should remain ﬂat on the ground. return to the original position with control.
7 BODY WEIGHT SQUAT
[A] Stand tall with your feet shoulder to hip width apart. [B] Lower your body by pushing your hips back and bending your knees until your buttocks are at least parallel to the ground (or lower if you can). Pause for a second before pushing yourself back up to the original position.
TIP Ensure that your knees don’t collapse inwards as you complete the movement.
8 ROMANIAN DEADLIFT
Climb onto the machine and lie face down with your ankles ﬁrmly pressed up against the foot pad. Adjust the thigh pad so that it covers your upper thighs only. [A] Squeeze your glutes at the beginning so that your body is lined up with the machine. Place your hands across your chest and keep your head in a neutral position. Gaze forward. [B] Push your hips back and bend forwards at your waist. Keep going as far as you can as the tension in your hamstrings starts to build up. Pause for a moment, drive your hips forward into the pad and return to the starting position.