I’m often asked what are the best exercises. The truth is, as a personal trainer, I know that this is a very hard question, as really, it depends on your goals. For some, exercises like squats and dead lifts might be best while for others, step ups and pushups might be more suitable. Exercises, for me, are like tools in a mechanics tool box – it’s simply a matter of choosing the right tool for the right job. You wouldn’t try and change a spark plug in your car using a hammer or nail up a picture using a screwdriver and exercise choice is no different.
That being said, there are some exercises that, in my experience, are popular and effective with certain groups. In this article, I want to tell you how to do some the exercises I have found to be best for women. Why these particular exercises? Good question! Simply, they target the main “problem areas” many women tell me they want to fix.
Moms – the busiest people in the world
Obviously, as moms are so busy, time is an important factor when designing a personal fitness training program as is energy. If your child is young or generally doesn’t sleep well you’ll probably feel tired much of the time and not up to a long workout and you probably won’t have time to spend hours at the gym. Luckily there is a solution…
Here are some simple but effective exercises designed specifically for busy moms who want to exercise but find it hard to find the time. Remember, even the smallest amount of exercise can be beneficial! Try and do 2 or 3 sets of each of the following exercises every other day. Add in some regular walking, pushing a stroller perhaps, and you are golden.
1. Modified pushups
This exercise, like the others in this article, can be performed at home – great if your child is having a nap and you only have a few quiet minutes to workout. Pushups are a great arm, chest and shoulder exercise. They also indirectly work your abs. Lie on your front with your hands under your shoulders. Keeping your knees on the floor and your abs held tight, push your upper body up off the floor until your arms are all but straight. Bend your arms and slowly lower back down again. Perform 10 – 15 repetitions. If you have the upper body strength you can perform the pushup from your toes. All the better.
2. Chair Squats
Working your thighs and butt, this exercise is hard to beat and is a personal fitness training favorite! Sit on your kitchen chair and plant your feet firmly on the floor, shoulder – width apart. Lean forward slightly and drive down through your heels to stand up. Push your hips back, bend your knees and slowly sit back down. Repeat for 12 – 20 repetitions.
This Pilates favorite is a great tummy toner and also strengthens your entire core. Lie on your front and rest on your elbows. Clasp your hands lightly together. Lift your hips so that your weight is supported on your arms and toes only. Make sure your body is straight. Hold this position for as long as is comfortable but remember to keep breathing. You can also do this exercise while resting on your knees which makes it a little easier.
4. Step ups
Step ups are terrific leg toner and really work your butt too. Stand facing your kitchen chair or any other sturdy knee high – step. Place one foot on top of the step and push down. Step up onto the chair and back down leading with the same leg. Step up again but leading with your opposite leg. Continue alternating legs until you have done 10 on each leg.
5. Chair Dips
Sit on a kitchen chair and place your hands on the seat next to your hips. With your legs bent and your feet on the floor, scoot your butt forward and off the chair so your weight is supported on your hands. Bend your arms down to around 90 degrees and then push back up. Do 10 – 15 repetitions.
Many personal fitness training workouts require lots of time, access to a gym and the use of fancy exercise equipment. There is nothing wrong with that but if you are a busy mom who wants to workout at home then really, all you need is your trusty kitchen chair.
By Mark Darco
Mark Darco is a certified personal trainer and boxing instructor with 15 years experience. He has completed multiple certifications and has trained hundreds of clients in the NYC area.