A 30-minute bone-strengthening training programme for women
  • 30 Jan - 05 Feb, 2021
  • Mag The Weekly

The not-so-good news: bone density naturally decreases as we age. Since women generally have smaller bones than men, those who have especially low bone density are at risk of developing osteoporosis, which results in brittle, fragile bones that can more easily fracture. Estrogen, which protects bones, decreases as women reach a certain age, also increasing our risk of osteoporosis.

The good news: women at any age can prevent bone loss – and even build new bone – by engaging in regular strength training. Aim for at least two strength workouts each week, training all major muscle groups each time.

The workout

Complete exercises as supersets: groups of two exercises performed in A, B, A, B fashion. Aim for three rounds of 10 to 12 reps, using weights that feel very challenging by rep number seven.

Round 1

Exercise A: Deadlifts

Target: Hamstrings, glutes, low and upper back

Deadlifts work almost every muscle on the back of your body.

• Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, arms straight, holding dumbbells against the front of your thighs.

• Hinge your hips behind you and bend your knees, keeping your back flat and your head in line with your spine. The dumbbells will travel along your body; keep them almost touching your legs as they travel downward.

• Once the dumbbells reach halfway down your shins, press through your heels, focusing on using your hamstrings and glutes to pull yourself back up to the start position.

Exercise B: Bulgarian Split Squats

Target: Quads, glutes

In addition to strengthening your muscles and bones, this exercise improves your balance and hip mobility.

• Stand holding dumbbells at your sides, left foot forward and right foot elevated behind you on a bench.

• Squat down by flexing your left knee and hip. Your left knee should form a 90-degree angle, and right knee should come close to the ground.

• Press through your left foot to return to the start position. Repeat for reps, then switch to the other side.

Round 2

Exercise A: Incline Bench Press

Target: Chest, shoulders

A fundamental strength training exercise that improves muscle and bone density in your upper body.

• Set a weightlifting bench to a 30-degree incline. Sit with dumbbells resting on your thighs.

• As you lean back onto the bench, bring the weights to each side of your chest, with your upper arms under each dumbbell.

• Press the dumbbells up until your arms are extended. The weights should follow a slight arc, moving inward once you reach the top of the movement. Lower the weights to the sides of your upper chest and repeat.

Exercise B: Dumbbell Row

Target: Back, core

Rows strengthen the major muscles in your back, which can help improve your posture. As long as you maintain good form, don’t be afraid to go heavy on this one.

• Kneel on the side of a bench, with your right knee and hand on the bench, spine neutral. Position your left foot on the floor, slightly behind you. Grab your dumbbell from the floor.

• Keeping your back flat and abs braced, and without rotating your torso, pull the dumbbell up your side until your upper arm is just beyond horizontal. You should feel your left shoulder blade moving toward your spine.

• Lower the weight with control, and repeat for reps.

Round 3

Exercise A: Overhead Press

Target: Shoulders, core

Here’s an upper body staple that strengthens the shoulders. You’ll also fire up your core, which stabilises your body during the movement.

• Hold a dumbbell in each hand, positioned to the outside of your shoulders. Your palms should be facing forward, with elbows under wrists.

• Press the dumbbells overhead until your arms are extended and the dumbbells are almost touching. Lower with control, and repeat for reps.

Exercise B: Goblet Squat

Target: Quads, glutes, hamstrings

Research shows that squats are particularly effective at improving bone strength. Squatting is an important and fundamental movement that improves strength and has excellent carryover into daily movement patterns as well.

• Stand with your feet a bit wider than shoulder width, holding a dumbbell with both hands (by one end) at chest level.

• Keeping your chest tall and your back flat, hinge your hips back behind you and bend your knees so your thighs are parallel to the floor. Go as low as you can without rounding your spine. Press into the floor with your feet to return to standing.