As you all know, men's and women's bodies are different and require different exercises to develop and maintain your fitness.
For men, there are exercises that are more beneficial to the male body, such as dead lifts and step-ups.
For women, exercises such as squats and rowing are more valuable.
In this "He Said, She Said" segment, Neal Pire and Grace DeSimone discuss the differences you should keep in mind when deciding on which exercises are right for your gender.
RadioMD Presents: Train Your Body | Original Air Date: April 14, 2015
Host: Melanie Cole, MS
Guests: Neal Pire & Grace DeSimone
Your trainer Melanie Cole is here to motivate and help you perform. It’s time now for Train Your Body.
MELANIE: Are all exercises "one size fits all" or are there certain exercises for women and certain exercises for men? On He Said/She Said today, we've got Grace DeSimone, National Director of Group Fitness for Plus One Health Management, an Optum company. We want to make sure to say that. And Neal Pire, exercise physiologist at HNH Fitness, a medical fitness center in Oradell, New Jersey.
So, guys. Let's start with you, Grace. Women's exercises: your favorite exercises and give brief descriptions of them.
GRACE: Here we go. Ready, girls?
GRACE: Number one: squats. Why? Because you have to sit on the toilet and get up. You need to sit in chairs and get up. If you want to practice your squats, do just that. Sit down and get up. Ideally, you do so without using your hands. That would be your ultimate goal. When you get good at that, instead of actually touching your tushy to the seat, you warm the seat with your butt and then you stand up and there you have a really great squat. Number two is a bridge. Laying on your back, putting your feet underneath your knees and you're tilting your tail and squeezing your glutes and coming up and going down. That's one of the 10 best exercises for women and I'm going to give you a bonus on that one. Do a Kegel.
MELANIE: I was going to say that! I was right there with you. I'm like, "A bonus for that bridging, for that pelvic tilt and lift is to add in a Kegel right there and just kind of squeeze it all up and work on that." Okay, keep going.
GRACE: Then, we have a plank, okay? I know Neal's going to go over some modifications for a plank which I'm all about and everybody knows that's like a push-up position. You can also do it on your forearms and you're either on your knees or your toes and you're using that to train the abdominals and core muscles. Then, rowing. You can do this holding one hand onto a table and leaning forward and with the other hand, you can be rowing your purse; you can be rowing laundry detergent. Anything that has a little weight to it. You can take a bunch of cans and bricks and put them in a shopping bag and row that up and down to strengthen those back muscles for your posture. Then, I'll give you a special one that I really like and I call it the coughing exercise. You're going to get down on your hands and knees, on all fours and you're going to cough. Just let out a big cough and I want you to feel which muscle deep in the belly does that. That special muscle is called your transverse abdominal muscle. It's way beyond the six pack. I tell you this, if you've ever hurt your back, you don't care how your abdominals look. You care that your back hurts, so these muscles help to control and support the spine. They will also help train the abdominal muscles in. So, while you're on all fours and you practice coughing, it'll teach you where those muscles are and how to engage them. Once you're good at that, you'll be able to recruit those muscles when you say, "Muscles! I need you now." Draw in. It's part of a deeper understanding of core and it'll also do that and do your Kegels and you won't be losing anything when you cough either. You know, I always say to people, "You won't care about your abs when you're wetting your pants," or something like that. But, for women doing those core muscles and getting really into the deep musculature will help a lot. Those are my fab five.
MELANIE: Rock on! I love every single one of those. Neal, over to you for men.
NEAL: What a perfect segway to transverse abdominus. I'm going to start with plank progression which, again, focuses on the importance of the core and those deep muscles around the spine, the abdomen, the trunk that help give you what we call proximal stability or stability in the center, around the center of gravity, that allows to move our limbs out so we have mobility outward from the arms and legs, etc. Plank progression starting on both toes and you're elbows, which is your standard plank. Progressions where you can lift one foot off the ground, perhaps a foot, and the opposite arm—contralateral arm for balance. Those exercises are so crucial to having that stability around the spine to prevent lower back pain and other issues that we so commonly have. As much as I love the squat, I'm going to give you a something a little different—the dead lift. Picking up something off the ground, whether it's a child or a bag of groceries or, you know, that's a real-life activity. Dead lifts with your feet parallel, reaching down, holding the dumbbells bars, a kettle bell, medicine bell, whatever it is, and lifting it up. You're having a nice, stable, neutral spine during the whole movement. The next movement, let's go from bilateral to unilateral where you're stabilizing one hip at a time, instead of squats, I'll go to step ups, using either a box as your elevated foot or, even a step if you have a step in your apartment or your house, step onto the other step and then lift the other leg opposite. What that forces you to do is stabilize one hip at a time, which is the way we function on a daily basis, going up and down stairs, walking, running, etc.
The next thing I like doing is pulling and pushing. Because we have so many rotator cuff issues, us guys as we get older, it's very common to have rotator cuff weakness and pain. The pulling motion really sort of counters what we do all day long which is usually our pecs shortening and tightening, our shoulders get a little tighter and we have rounded shoulders. Doing pulling motions actually help pull the shoulders back and work the external rotators of the shoulder joint which help keep your rotator cuff healthy and strong. So, pull-ups or pull downs are the ideal type of exercise. Opposing that movement, press-ups where you're not necessarily doing a military press-up with the elbows out to the side, but closer to the front, a more natural angle that you would use for picking up something from the counter and placing it up in the cupboard or that kind of thing. My key recommendation here is to always start your exercises with a dynamic warm up because mobility is so important and is something we always lose. Doing a dynamic warm up that includes stuff like skipping and side shuffling and a grapevine type of movement where you step in front and in back, in front and in back, moving laterally, those types of movements help maintain mobility. At the end of your workout, you finish with a total body progressive stretch to maintain your flexibility. Something different than mobility.
MELANIE: So, neither one of you mentioned lunges and back lunges and side lunges and doing lunges with lateral raise or lunges with bicep curl, lunges, lunges, lunges, I am like, I do back lunges. I almost never do forward walking lunges with people because of the knees. No one can every keep their knees in proper position, so we do back lunges. Why did neither one of you mention it? Grace?
GRACE: I do love them and I do use them but I try to pick the ones, if I had to pick five if I really, really wanted people to do, I'd rather see you learn to use those transverse abdominal muscles and your Kegel muscles for a woman and your still working your whole lower body coming down and up. I do love the lunge, it is a great exercise. I do find that people have difficulty learning it and balancing with it. So, that's why I chose squats.
MELANIE: Absolutely true. And, Neal, on dead lifts.
MELANIE: Now, we don't have just a minute left here, but when you described dead lifts, do you want people to try with a straight leg? Are they allowed to bend their knees? Do they keep their chest up? Thirty seconds, Neal.
NEAL: Well, the key issue which I mentioned, is the neutral spine—a spine that has that s-curve which is a natural position for your spine. That's your strongest position for your spine. So, that's your strongest position in your spine, so you don't want to bend and flex the lower back as you're lifting something in front of you because that's going to put you in an awkward position and it's going to increase your risk versus the reward that you're going to get from the exercise. Dead lifts, you want to do by lowering the hips so you can grab whatever it is that you're grabbing and lifting and maintaining that neutral spine as you come up into the standing position. The reason I didn't select lunges is because I chose step ups instead. That's my lateral hip stability movement for the hip and leg.
MELANIE: Well, we are going to print all these out on RadioMD so that you can get that list again and if you missed any of this great stuff and information we're giving, you know you can listen any time on demand or on the go at RadioMD.com. You can download the show on iTunes, listen to it on iHeart, but share it with your friends because these He Said/She Said—ew! Say that a few times—are such great segments. You are getting really high quality, perfect information from trainers, right here.
This is Melanie Cole for RadioMD. Thanks so much for listening and stay well.