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Many women think strength training means they’re going to bulk up and have large arm or leg muscles, which will negate any weight loss success – this simply isn’t true! Strength training is equally (if not more) important than cardio fitness and diet when it comes to weight loss. The best part about strength training is that it doesn’t have to involve fancy or expensive equipment, there are so many exercises you can do with your own body weight.

Following are a few favorite exercises you can do at home or the gym. Add these simple exercises to your cardio routine 2 to 3 times per week for toned, fat-burning muscles:

Push-ups

  • Targets chest, shoulders, triceps and core
  • Start on knees and progress to full push-ups. If knee push-ups are challenging, try inclined pushups with hands elevated on stairs or a desk
  • Aim for 12 to 15 push-ups per set, 2 to 3 sets per session

Superwoman

  • Works back, shoulders, glutes and hamstrings
  • Start with arms at sides. Progress to arms overhead with shoulders away from ears
  • Hold for 5 to 10 seconds per set; progress to 10 sets per session

Superwoman

Plank

  • Works shoulders and the core muscles of the back and abdomen
  • Start on the knees or at an incline. Advance the move by placing forearms on an unstable surface like a couch cushion, or lift one leg at a time. Add side planks to increase strength and balance
  • Hold for 30 to 60 seconds per set. Aim for 2 to 3 sets per session

Plank

Squats

  • Targets large muscles like glutes, quads, hamstrings and back
  • Start with body weight squats. Add resistance with bands or weights to make it more challenging. Keep spine long and limit range of motion so that the hips don’t dip below the knees
  • Aim for 12 to 15 squats per set, 2 to 3 sets per session

And as always, please consult your physician or healthcare provider before starting any diet or exercise routine.

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