Women are busy people. Finding time to work out is a challenge in itself. Making the best use of that training time is vital. Too often, though, workout programs for women are too long, too low intensity and too boring.
To be able to burn off fat from the traditional problem areas – hips, thighs, butt and the backs of the upper arms – women need workouts that are high intensity and that burn a lot of calories in a short amount of time. The 3 workouts that follow are guaranteed to torch fat from your problem areas while toning you up and trimming you down.
Workout #1: High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) involves quick bursts of high intensity training followed by short rest periods. High intensity is light years away from what can be seen in the cardio rooms of most gyms. You won’t be able to carry on a conversation or sing along to your IPod with this type of training.
The workout is extremely hard. But it works - and it doesn’t last long. So, are you up to the HIIT challenge?
The best exercises to choose for HIIT training are those that will allow you to use maximum exertion during the high intensity portion of the training. Running is a great choice, allowing for hard out sprints (imagine you're being chased by a Doberman) followed by a slow jog. You can use a treadmill, stair-climber or any other piece of cardio equipment that you have access to.
To maximize your fat-burning potential even more, it is best to perform your workouts early in the morning on an empty stomach. Before breakfast, your body is slightly carb depleted, temporarily making fat the primary fuel for energy.
As already explained, HIIT involves short duration workouts. In fact, you'll only have to allocate 15 minutes to your workouts on those days.
Here's how it will look:
Your warm up simply involves 5 minutes of slow movement on your chosen exercise type. Your goal here is to get the muscles ready for the challenging work to come so you should perform some exaggerated movements to really feel the muscles getting involved.
As soon as five minutes is up on your warm up, it is time to get to work. If you are using a treadmill, dial the speed up to between 8-12 miles per hour, depending on your current fitness level.
Your job now is to begin sprinting as fast and as hard as you possibly can. If you are running, imagine that you are being chased by a very hungry dog! On the cycle, pump your legs like there’s no tomorrow. And, if you are rowing, imagine that you’re closing in on the Olympic Games finish line.
Continue this all-out sprint for 20 seconds. Then stop. You’ve got 10 seconds before you do it all again. Take in deep breaths (through your nose) and get psyched for the work ahead...
Sprint as hard as you did the first time. Try not to let the intensity level drop. Keep pushing harder, harder, harder... at 20 seconds stop and breathe again.
You will repeat this cycle until you have completed 8 twenty-second sprints with 10-second rest intervals between them. This will take you just 4 minutes – but it will fee like an hour!
Finish your workout with a 5-minute cool down. Repeat the same process as for your warm up, maintaining a slow, steady pace to allow your body to return to a non-exercise state.
That’s it! Your workout will be over before most people have tied their shoelaces. But, if you’ve done it right, you’ll be dripping with sweat and those 4 minutes of intensity will have felt like 4 hours. Now it’s time to take a shower and get on with the rest of your day.
Workout #2: Full Bodyweight Circuit
Here’s an intense all over workout that you can do anywhere, anytime without any equipment at all.
This bodyweight circuit will challenge every muscle in your body while burning a whole lot of calories.
Here’s how to perform the workout:
- Lie face down on the floor, with your feet together and hands slightly wider than shoulder width apart. Make sure that your body is a straight line. Do not allow your butt to rise as you perform the movement. Breathe in and lower your body under control until your torso just touches the floor.
- Hold the bottom position for a second, then breathe out and push your torso up until your arms are straight and you are back to the start position.
- Lie face down on the floor, with your feet together and arms under your shoulders. Rest on your forearms. Lift your body so that the only points of contact with the floor are your forearms and toes.
- Maintain a straight line with your body. Tense your core and look straight ahead, not letting your head drop.
- Hold this position for 30 seconds.
- Place your hands directly out in front of you as you maintain a shoulder width foot distance. Make sure that you keep a neutral spine position.
- Looking straight ahead, lower yourself as if you were about to sit in a chair. Go down to a parallel position, allowing your hips to push back as you descend.
- Pause at the bottom position, and then push through your heels to return to an upright stance.
- With feet shoulder width apart, drop down into a squat position and then jump as high as you can, using momentum to propel you skyward. Try to bring your knees up to your chest.
- Perform your repetitions without any pause between them. Keep going until 30 seconds has gone by.
Standing Long Jump
- From a standing position with both feet together, jump forward as far as you can. Bend your knees in order to allow for as much forward spring as you can get.
- Now run back to the start point and jump again.
- Place yourself between two parallel benches. Place your hands behind to grasp the edges of one bench. Rest your heels on the lower bench, your feet together.
- Lower your body as far as you can toward the floor. At the lowest point, extend your arms and return to the start position.
- Stand with your back to the wall, feet shoulder width apart. Drop down as if you were going to sit in a seat. Keep your back against the wall. Hold your arms out in front of you.
- Hold this position for 30 seconds.
Workout #3: The Fitness Ball Workout
The fitness ball was developed in the 1960’s. It soon became popular among exercise enthusiasts throughout Europe. Fitness professionals as well as physical therapists began using the balls in order to enhance strength, flexibility, coordination and balance. In addition, the ball proved invaluable in treating neurological disorders such as spinal cord and stroke injuries.
So, what is so good about using an exercise ball? The key lies in the instability of the ball. This forces your muscles to do a lot more work. They have to constantly keep the body stable during your workout. This is especially good for the core, which is constantly ‘on’ when you are exercising on a fitness ball.
Use this total body workout program twice per week. Perform two sets of 12-15 repetitions of each toning exercise and leave a minimum of 48-hour rest period between workouts.
- Skipping x 2 minutes
- Single Knee Lifts
- Single Knee Lifts with Leg and Arm Extension
- Kneel down with the ball in front of your thighs. Keep your spine in a neutral position and pull your navel in towards your spine. Put your hands on the ball.
- Lean forward over the ball until your hands touch the floor and the ball supports your body weight. Feel how pushing onto your hands supports your weight.
- Push out over the ball, walking your hands out so that the ball is underneath your thighs. Keep your navel pulled in towards your spine to help keep your hips and lower back straight. Continue to reach your toes.
- Walk your hands back in towards the ball.
Reach for the Sky
- Select suitable weights then sit on the ball in an upright position. Your knees should be directly over your feet.
- Bend your arms at 90 degrees and bring your elbows level with your shoulders. Your palms should face forwards. This is the start position.
- Breathing out, push the dumbbells upwards, raising your arms above your head. Look straight ahead. Then, breathing in, lower your arms back to the start position; avoid dropping your arms as you do so.
- If you feel unstable, widen your knees so that they point slightly outwards and are positioned over your toes.
- Position yourself so that the fitness ball is under your stomach, with your feet on the floor. Squeeze your buttocks to straighten your hips. Hold your arms out at shoulder level, like an aeroplane’s wings.
- Keep stabilized on the ball as you turn your upper body so that your right hand touches the floor. Use your stomach muscles to turn yourself back to the start position. This is one rep. Do the same on the other side.
- For a more intense challenge, perform the aeroplane with your feet against a wall, positioned slightly lower than hip level.
- Focus on your buttocks to avoid overusing your back muscles. Do not turn your head too far to each side you rotate your body.
- Lie over the ball on your stomach with your knees bent on the floor. Touch your hands to above your ears. Keep your eye line towards the floor. Breathe in to prepare.
- Breathe out as you lift your chest off the ball. Keep your shoulders and neck in line with your back as you extend your body. Return to the start position.
- Lie on the floor with your legs straight and your heels and calves resting on the ball. Your arms should be at your sides with your palms facing toward the floor.
- Tighten your buttocks, pull your navel in towards your spine and lift your hips upwards until your legs and shoulders form a diagonal line.
- Push down into the ball through your feet and pull the ball in to your hips as far as you can. Keep your buttocks lifted. You will feel the muscles working from your calves through to your buttocks.
- Push into the ball and slowly straighten out your legs again, keeping the ball steady. Lower your hips back to the start position.
- Keep the ball movements in a straight line, as if it were on a railway track. Keep your neck and shoulders as relaxed as you can to avoid unnecessary tension.
The 3 workout programs for women presented above provide you with a fantastic arsenal of training options to keep your exercise sessions fresh and productive. We suggest that you perform your HIIT training every second day. The other two programs can be alternated every month. At the end of six months, you will be amazed at how much fitter, stronger, leaner and energetic your body feels.