Are you wasting your time with ineffective exercises?
Q: If you could only pick three exercises to give women their best chance at getting lean and fit, what would they be and why?
A: To maximize your results, I recommend adding the following three exercises into your routine.
If you're a beginner, perform 3 sets of 10-12 reps, resting 60 seconds between each set. For intermediate/advanced trainees, do 3 sets of 8-10 reps, resting 60-75 seconds between each set.
This is a great exercise for your lower body, especially your quads, hamstrings, and glutes, as well as your entire core. It's relatively simple to learn the proper form, so even if you're new to strength training, you can (and should) start doing deadlifts.
If your gym doesn't have a trap bar (sometimes called a hex bar), use dumbbells instead. Your hand position will be same—palms facing in.
Form tip: Make sure that you push your hips back and place your weight in the mid/back part of your feet. Hold your chest high, eyes forward, and maintain a neutral spine during the entire movement.
Chinups are a great upper-body exercise to target your lats, mid-back, and arms. If you're not strong enough for bodyweight chinups (as shown), try band-assisted chinups. Simply loop one end of a large rubber band around a chinup bar and then pull it through the other end of the band, cinching the band tightly to the bar. Grab the bar with a shoulder-width, underhand grip, place your knees in the loop of the band (or have someone pull the band around your knees for you), then perform your set.
The band-assisted method will allow you to do full chinups, and it more accurately mimics the movements than does the assisted-chinup machine you'll find in most gyms. As you get stronger, you can use a band that gives you less assistance.
Running on an incline is a great way to perform intervals for both conditioning and fat loss. The incline naturally shortens your stride length (compared to regular sprinting), which minimizes the risk of pulling your hamstring. If you're a beginner, you can start by jogging up the hill and then walking down. Over the course of a few weeks, work up to sprinting as fast as you can. I recommend starting with a 3-5 percent incline and gradually working toward steeper hills.
Make sure to perform a thorough dynamic warm-up before every sprinting session. (Click here to see a great total-body warm-up that I designed for SHAPE's Strong, Sexy Arms Challenge.)
Photos of Jessi Kneeland were taken at Peak Performance NYC