It would be impossible for your workout to include every muscle-toning, calorie-torching move you’ve heard/seen/read about in your life—at the very least, it would be an incredibly long workout. So we called up a few fitness experts and asked them to name one exercise women aren’t doing enough of. While many protested that choosing just one essential exercise was extremely difficult, they all complied. The result? A list of six indispensable moves that we can almost guarantee you’re not already doing (we certainly weren’t). You don’t have to ditch your existing gym routine; just sprinkle a couple into your existing workouts and see what happens.
Scroll through to see what your workout is missing!
Celebrity trainer and fitness expert Patrick Murphy says he has all of his clients preform the “happy clam move” because it prevents injury, while toning your glutes. “The average person sits all day, crossing their legs,” Murphy says. “When we do stand, we favor one side and collapse into it, putting our body weight on one leg.” Consequently, we end up with weak glutes and hip muscles and impaired stabilization. So Murphy suggests doing the clam move with a resistance band wrapped around your thighs to strengthen the area. Additionally, the majority of the time we spend moving, we are in forward movement (walking, hiking, biking, etc.). We rarely move side to side. “But when you develop the lateral side of your glutes with this exercise, it gives your bum the ability to defy gravity,” Murphy says. Training your glutes in all planes of motion is a must.
Stationary lunges aren’t cutting it. “Walking lunges work a large number of muscles (thighs, hamstrings, calves, glutes, and core), while also engaging your cardiovascular system,” certified personal trainer and ISSA director of wellness, John Rowley, says. You get a full lower-body workout with the added benefit of cardio in one movement.
“This single exercise provides a full-body strength movement that will challenge your abdominals, strengthen your core, and improve balance and coordination by calling on all of your stabilizing muscles to fire,” Equinox Beverly Hills group fitness manager, Jason Schneider, says. And you can do this move anywhere because Schneider says it doesn’t require a lot of weight to get results. “Even body weight will work your core.” So just choose a weight that won’t compromise your form.
PHOTO: Mr. Yoga
Lifting heavy weights isn’t always the best option for women, so Angela Leigh, national manager of Equinox training camp, recommends this sequence as a great way to build strength without external stimuli. “Down Dog is a static pose that builds shoulder stability, extends the spine, elongates the back of the legs, and strengthens the front of the thighs,” Leigh says. “Simply holding Down Dog alone for two minutes is an excellent way to sculpt the outer upper arms, as well as build trunk stability, which for women is difficult to do. I like to add a Scorpion for rotation and an additional challenge for core strength and mobility in the upper back. Extension of the spine, core stability, shoulder strength, and mobility in the upper back are essential for good posture as well as overall healthy movement patterns.”
“Many women tend to overlook isolation training of their calves,” says Angeles Burke, director of fitness and wellness at Celsius. “Tight glutes are all the rage, so squatting and lunging have become staples in most women’s training routines. Yet, when we wear shorts or dresses, it’s our calves that tend to be exposed.” Your calves do get recruited in many basic exercises, but that’s not enough to properly develop the area. Burke recommends adding two calf isolation exercises, like calf raises, after your leg routine twice a week. “Keep the weight light and focus on controlling the movement.”
“This is a phenomenal exercise that many women often overlook because it can either be intimidating or confusing to do (these are the same reasons men don't do it also),” director of Equinox fitness training institute, Mathew N. Berenc, says. The Turkish Get Up is great for improving stability and total body strength, preventing injury, and reaching weight loss goals. “You’re using your entire body at the same time to go from floor to standing. Every muscle together has to work, and as a result of this increased unified stress on the body, you adapt and get stronger as a whole—rather than just the individual parts.” You also burn a lot of calories because, again, every muscle has to work. “After just three reps—no matter how good you are—you’re sweating bullets,” Berenc says. You have to be focused throughout the exercise, and when an exercise does that, Berenc says it ramps up your metabolism.
How many of these moves were missing from your current workout?