“I don’t want to look like a man”, “I don’t want to get too big”, “I don’t want my arms to get huge muscles”. These are some of the most common things I have heard from women describing lifting weights at the gym. Ladies, I am here to tell you that lifting weights will NOT give you “manly arms”, but they will tone and shape your body! It takes body builders years to get extremely massive and vascular arms, so trust me…if that happens to you, I’m sure everyone will want to know your secret workout regime. It’s about time that women are not intimidated when entering the gym and should not feel as though they can only stay on the ellipticals and treadmills, but take a direct path to the free weights and machines. Confidence in the gym takes time, but knowing which exercises to focus on can help contribute to higher “gym self-esteem”. 

Recently, the desired physiques have changed drastically and women are working towards getting that “hour-glass figure”.  The thin waist and round Kim K butt are in style. Women are dying to know the secrets to getting this figure. If you're not naturally born with this spectacular curvy figure (as most people are not) this body shape can be made in the gym in a fun and most importantly, healthy way! Below are my go-to gym exercises that help you reach your gym, health, and body goals! 

When people work towards getting the “bubble-butt”, they seem to think that focusing only on the booty is necessary. I’m going to let you in on a secret…its not! One thing some women may not know is that you can trick the eyes into believing you have more of an hourglass figure than you really do! Working your lateral muscles (the two muscles on the outsides of your ribs and under your arms), will give the illusion of a wider upper body and will make your waist appear smaller! I know, it’s basically magic. To achieve this, my favourite exercise is “Lat Pulldowns”. I’m 99% every gym has this machine and will give the desired results!

Tip: Arch your back from the centre, and lean just enough that you have a slight C-shape to your back. This will target the muscles better than just pulling straight down. 


Ladies, do NOT neglect upper body. Toned arms are essential to complete your full body transformation. For the shoulders, in keeping with the “hour-glass figure illusion”, “One-Arm Lateral Cable Pulls” are my favourite for targeting the outside of the shoulders.

Tip: You can do a few variations of these. You can either have the cable in front, behind or beside you when doing this exercise. Each of these works a slightly different part of the shoulder. I like to do them in repetitions of 8, and sets of 3’s to make sure I’m hitting every muscle. 


The next part of the body to target is your stomach or abdomen region. I think everyone has heard the phrase, “abs are made in the kitchen”, but working them out in the gym never hurt anybody. My first favourite exercise is just plain and simple “Sit-Ups”. BUT to make sure you are actually working out your 6-pack, my secret is to hold a foam roller between the backs of your thighs and ankles. This takes away basically any power you’re getting from your legs, and forces you to use only your abs! I know so painful…but very worth it.

Tip: Lightly grasp and support your neck directly behind your ears and imagine you are holding a tennis ball between your chin and chest. This should take away straining your neck and make your sit-ups burn…in a good way. 


My second absolute favourite abdominal exercise doesn’t actually work your front abs! I’m all about the obliques. These are the sides of your stomach that most people seem to neglect and forget exist. Toned obliques complete the “toned stomach” look. The way I achieve obliques of steel are “Oblique Side Bends”. These sound exactly like what they are! Take any sort of weight (plate, kettle-bell, dumbbell, etc.) and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.

Tip: Bend from the waist to one side. Make sure you do not twist your body and keep completely flat. Then come all the way back up and squeeze the opposite side of your body. A few sets of these and you should feel like a noodle. Tip: when bending one way, try to stretch the one side of your abdomen as much as possible then contract it all the way back. This should give you maximum burn and oblique work! 


Now, moving onto everyone’s favourite and most requested: booty! To start my glutes, I usually head over to the “Hip Abductor Machine” and get my buns burning. To get maximum work from this machine, I like to do something a bit extreme. So, I start at an extremely heavy weight and sit completely out of the chair, holding onto the sides of the machine. I do this weight for 8 reps, then switch my weight to the one below it and repeat. I do this for about 4 or 5 weights (always switching to one weight less than the last), until I’m at a weight where I can sit in the chair and reach forward to grab the machine. I do 4 or 5 of this position until I get to a weight where I do not have to hold the machine. So BASICALLY, you work your butt off and its only been 5 minutes on one machine.

Tip: When sitting out of the chair, always make sure to keep your booty arched but back straight. You want to have your spine in line with your neck, but butt out enough that the muscles are contracting and working! 


My next booty exercise is another one of my personal favourites. “Hip Thrusts with a Plate” are what I prefer over using a bar. You can use the bar if you prefer, but I personally have very sensitive hip flexors and this exercise is mostly about squeezing the glutes anyways, not about seeing how big you can make these thrusts. So, take a plate, and sit on a bench. Place the plate in your lap and lower yourself centering the top part of your back on the bench. Make sure your feet are about shoulder width apart and the plate is directly over the booty and NOT on your thighs as that takes away the purpose of the weight being directed at your butt. You can either squeeze and release as much as you want or hold that position as long as possible-it's up to you!

Tip: Keep your neck in line with your body. Do not strain it to look up into the mirror. As much as you want to see what you’re doing…don’t do it! 


Last but not least, we have “Kettle-Bell Deadlifts”! My 2 main points of advice for this exercise: Always keep your knees slightly bent and keep your head in line with your spine. I cannot stress this enough, it hurts my heart a little bit every time I see someone doing these while arching their head back to look at themselves. Please, PLEASE do not do this. Your body will thank you.

Tip: Focusing a tipping from the hip and contracting your booty not just on the way back up but also on the way down. Squeezing at the top is also necessary for getting maximum burn out of this exercise!


Who's ready to get started? My one word of advice is to start the above exercises with lighter weights to make sure you perfect your form before taking on anything too heavy. Form is EVERYTHING when it comes to maximizing the benefits of weight lifting. Definitely give them a try next time you are hitting up the gym to build your confidence and booty!