5 Exercises Women Should Avoid

Exercises Women Should AvoidThe Top 5 Exercises Women Should Avoid

If you’re a female who’s interested in getting started on a workout program but aren’t quite sure which exercises you should be doing and which to be avoiding, the following list is going to help solve this problem for you.

While it is very essential that you take the time to learn the top exercises that will move you closer to your goals, at the same time it’s important that you look over which exercises should be avoided as they won’t move you any closer to the goals that you’re trying to achieve.

For the vast majority of women, they want a lean and toned body – one that looks feminine yet fit at the same time. You aren’t looking for an extremely muscular physique, but rather one that shows off long and lean muscles.

If this sounds like you, the following five exercises will move you further away from that goal, so it’s best to avoid these at all costs.

1. Weighted Abdominal Crunches

weighted ab crunchesThe first of the top exercises women should avoid are weighted abdominal crunches. This includes abdominal machines at the gym and using dumbbells or plates during various forms of crunches.

These are especially problematic for females because while you think they may be helping you get that slim and toned stomach you’re after, what they’re really doing is potentially making your stomach appear larger.

You don’t want to increase the size of your abdominal muscles, instead, you want to decrease the amount of fat that’s covering them. It’s this layer of fat that’s keeping you from the toned stomach look you’re after, not the size of your abdominals. Stick to non-weighted abdominal work instead.

2. Side Bends

The second of the exercises that women should avoid are side bends. Often you’ll hear women stating that they think this is going to help with their love handles, but really it’s only going to widen the waist.

If you want to get rid of your love handles, just like with the abs issue, focus on your diet. That will be more important to removing the fat that’s surrounding this area and get the learner look you’re after.

Instead of doing side bends to work the obliques, try the bicycle crunch or the side plank.

3. Shoulder Shrugs

dumbbell shoulder shrugsShrugs are our next exercise that women should be avoiding. While shoulder exercises such as shrugs are great for increasing the trap strength and development, women with overly developed traps will not look all that appealing as it’ll make your back appear more rounded and muscular.

You likely are going for a more streamlined look around the collor bone and shrugs will just take away from that. Instead, focus on working the shoulder muscles, including exercises that target all the different deltoid heads.

4. Reverse Glute Kickbacks

Reverse Glute Kicbacks Reverse glute kickbacks are our next exercise that you can do away with on your workout program. While there isn’t really any harm in doing these per say, the problem is that they just won’t be all that beneficial.

Reverse glute kickbacks are often done in group exercise classes on the floor with no resistance but can also include single glute isolation machines in the gym. The most common reverse glute kickback machine (pictured on the right) is often referred to as the “butt blaster”.

If your goal is to firm up your backside then you’re much better off incorporating lunges or squats into your plan. Reverse glute kickbacks will just waste time during your workout session.

Further Reading:

5. Long Duration Cardio Workouts

Long Duration Cardio WorkoutsFinally, the last exercise that you can cut from your plan is long duration cardio training. Cardio exercise is important for heart health, but you’ll see so many more benefits from doing high intensity interval sprints instead.

Long duration cardio workouts can actually cause the body to hold its fat tissue and suffer from inflammation. Swap them out for a more intense, shorter variety of cardio instead and you’ll see noticeable positive changes.

The Bottom Line

While the choice of which exercises you utilize in your workout program is up to you, most women are going to be better off avoiding these five exercises during workout sessions.

On the other hand, if you’re a woman who is looking to bulk up a particular muscle, these exercises will definitely help you do so. Again, the choice is up to you depending on what you are trying to achieve with your body.

From my personal experience as a personal trainer for the past decade dealing with many female clients, most women are definitely going to be happier with their progress in the gym if they leave these out of their plan. By doing so, you can be sure you’re focusing on more productive movements that will help you reach your goals of achieving a sexy, toned physique.

About Shannon Clark

Shannon holds a degree in Exercise Science and is a certified personal trainer and fitness writer with over 10 years of industry experience.


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  1. Shrugs aid in helping keep good posture and also help release tension. However, I agree that most women don’t want to look bulky and curved. In my case, I felt this article had a slight body shaming tone towards women that might perhaps want to look a little bulkier and stronger.

    • Ignorant? I would have to disagree. Depends on the person’s goals. I’ve been training clients for many years, in particular female clients, and based off years of feedback the average female client does not want large traps. The traps will also naturally develop to an extent while performing other upper body exercises, so unless a women’s goals are to compete in bodybuilding or figure/physique competitions, traps development isn’t top priority. Sorry, but I do not feel ignorant is the right word choice. Thank you for your feedback though.

    • Firstly, not all women are the same. Secondly, It should be title 5 exercises women should avoid if they are looking for a more feminine physique. I’m a female and I do these exercises. I don’t care anyone else thinks of my body, it’s my body, as long as I treat it well and I’m happy with my results thats all that matters.

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