Former ballet dancer and Ballet Beautiful founder Mary Helen Bowers has serious fitness cred thanks to training Natalie Portman for her role in Black Swan. With this free workout video, she takes her expertise outside the dance studio. The 15-minute mat workout will help tone your lower body with graceful ballet-inspired movements like bridge variations.
How: Begin with your hands directly under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Contract the muscles of your core and stabilize your pelvis and shoulders. Shift your balance onto your left knee and your right hand. In one movement, extend your right leg back behind you and your left arm outin front of you. Extend both as far as possible and hold for 2 seconds. Slowly release both back to the starting position. That's one repetition. Immediately switch sides and perform the same with the left leg and right arm. Continue alternating sides for a total of 20 reps.
My muscles aren’t huge, and I have a lot of fat to lose to reveal my beautiful muscles (I started bulking in December 2014). I weigh 182 and am 5″2, size 10, 40 years old. I’ve been lifting for years, but just purchased your SMG in January and have now started intelligently training (I should have done fat loss first, before bulking). I’m seeing results already using the Fat Loss plan.
Element 5 Day Yoga offers five 15-minute sequences to pick and choose from based on your mood and motivation. "It's an easy way to get to the mat every day," one tester said, whether your body needs a Stretch & Restore session or more of an invigorating Energy & Flexibility set. Plus "the instructor provided just enough guidance, no unnecessary chatter." Namaste to that.
I’m a weight lifter, and I’m not afraid of the freeweights, nor the heavy ones. I went to a gym test session at a “girly” gym, and was so annoyed at the girl’s surprise that I was capable of tripling most of her clients’ weight limits. And I haven’t regularly lifted in months. So even now, seriously out of condition, I’m capable of lifting more than most.
Cardio history: I wouldn’t consider myself an avid runner, but it was my top-choice workout before I discovered lifting. I would run on treadmills or trails around a lake or hillsides, do some kind of kettlebell workout, followed by whatever diet fad I was on at the moment. One thing was clear to me: I wasn’t getting any results. Sure, running made me sweat like a maniac and gasp for air every second. But I was also injured quite often. I would consistently hurt my hips, knees and ankles.
Thank you for this article, it was great to read one that explained so well the myths surrounding women lifting like men. I’ve been lifting heavy for a few years now and the only time I felt that I was bigger than I would’ve liked was when I had a layer of fat covering my muscle! (often women seem to mistake this for lots of muscle bulk) Once that was lost though, with a small deficit and while continuing to lift, I loved the results! Muscle tone, looking strong, looking healthy. I wish more women would realise the benefits – next time I have a female friend complain about how they’re not getting “toned”, I’ll be sending them a link to this! 😀
That’s unfortunate: On average, a woman over 25 years old who doesn’t do strength-training exercises loses about one-half pound of muscle each year, or roughly 5 pounds in a decade, research has found. That makes you feel weaker and look flabbier, and results in about a 3% decrease in resting metabolic rate (RMR). Over time, this slowing metabolism can lead to an increase in body fat.
2) Do you have any articles that answer how many sets should be taken to failure (or close to it) per exercise for maximum hypertrophy? I think the terms here would be straight sets vs pyramid, etc. I’ve always naturally done a pyramiding-style where every set acts almost as a warm up to my one real working set, as to produce maximum output for that one true working set. In other words, instead of traditional pyramiding 90×10, 95×8, 100×6 it will be more like 90×5, 95×3, 100×6. And I will never repeat a set I’ve taken to failure (never do straight sets). Anyway, I’ve never seen a definitive answer as to which is better and have been surprised that straight sets seem to be the standard recommendation.
Next, bend your arms and slowly lower yourself until your chest is just about to touch the floor. Hold the position for a second. After holding it, straighten your arms again to return to the starting position. This is one repetition. Continue for up to 12 repetitions. To make it harder, try placing a gym bag or textbook on your back to add additional weight.
Strength training is an area that is geared predominantly toward men. As a woman interested in strength training, I really appreciate that this article address the differences between men and women and helps me to understand what I can do to get the most out of my strength training. I love that there was a study done about strength gains specifically in women, it’s so interesting that women’s strength increased 27% faster than men’s.
“Absolutely ridiculous!” This is what I thought aloud while reading a popular diet book for women. It was appalling. Yogurt, cereal, coffee and a glass of juice for breakfast. Where the heck is the protein!? Sure, yogurt has some, but not enough to sustain the energy, satiation and nutrition that an active woman needs. It is time to set the record straight. We need to take these old school, fairy tale diets and trash them! Just as we burned our bras in the 60’s for equal rights, let’s burn our old diet books and get with the program—Women NEED protein!
If you’re unable to bring your hips parallel to your knee joints, start with wall squats to build up strength. Otherwise, not going fully parallel can place stress on your joints and injure your knees. I didn’t go parallel when I first started weightlifting and seriously injured my knee. In fact, I had to lay off lifting for two months to allow it to heal.
The book is clearly written by a woman who enjoys yoga and balance balls. She demonstrates exercises for the absolute beginner, and the steps you can take to challenge yourself further as your fitness improves. There are plenty of options for home or gym, and lots of helpful tips. Most exercises use your own body weight, light hand weights, resistance band, or balance ball.
You don’t have to lift hundreds of pounds on every exercise like a guy might, but you do have to lift weights that are equally challenging for YOU and continue to push yourself to progress and gradually lift heavier and heavier weights over time. This is progressive overload, and it’s a requirement for any amount of muscle to be built or any amount of progress to be made.
As for food, I’m a huge foodie. I can’t eat the same thing every day, but some staples I always come back to include: avocado toast with poached egg and smoked salmon; chickpeas pastas with parmesan; and crispy tempeh and sweet potatoes. And I have one huge non-negotiable indulgence: Once a week, I disconnect and watch a totally goofy movie, while eating a big bowl of oats, peanut butter, and granola. (Where are my Mean Girls lovers at?)
The content on MoneyCrashers.com is for informational and educational purposes only and should not be construed as professional financial advice. Should you need such advice, consult a licensed financial or tax advisor. References to products, offers, and rates from third party sites often change. While we do our best to keep these updated, numbers stated on this site may differ from actual numbers. We may have financial relationships with some of the companies mentioned on this website. Among other things, we may receive free products, services, and/or monetary compensation in exchange for featured placement of sponsored products or services. We strive to write accurate and genuine reviews and articles, and all views and opinions expressed are solely those of the authors.

Why she switched: As I’ve become a more advanced practitioner of yoga (I am now a yoga teacher and wellness influencer), I have been craving more. I used to leave a level 3, two-hour yoga class exhausted, but now I am ready for more. I also wanted a more drastic improvement in muscle mass. I have always been fairly thin and petite, but as I get older, I desire to have more of a physique. So, I decided to add in weightlifting about three or four weeks ago.
Grab a pair of kettlebells, and set up with your feet just outside both bells. Hinge at the hip so you’re able to grab the handles of both bells; this should put you in a position similar to a deadlift position, and your hips should be lower than your shoulders. Tighten your glutes slightly and brace your core. Working to keep your back flat and rotating your hips only slightly, lift the right kettlebell and row it toward your lower chest, while still gripping the left kettlebell. Return the right kettlebell to the ground, then repeat on the left side. That’s 1 rep. Do 3 sets.
2) I think how often you go to failure should primarily depend on a) how frequently you train a muscle/exercise and b) how much fatigue/soreness an exercise causes. If you’re just doing an exercise/training a muscle once per week, you can probably go to failure a bunch and be just fine. If you’re training the same muscle again 48 hours later, it probably wouldn’t be a good idea to go to failure very often. If you’re doing an exercise that causes a lot of soreness and fatigue (like DLs), you probably shouldn’t go to failure very often. If you’re doing an exercise (like biceps curls) that doesn’t cause much soreness/fatigue, you can probably go to failure more often.
Strength training by utilizing some form of resistance is a much better approach than focusing only on cardio if your goal is to achieve a toned, healthy physique, and there’s a lot of science to support it. Research shows that adding resistance training as part of your workout routine is a proven method for increasing Lean Body Mass and reducing body fat for women.
×