5 MOST Important Exercises For Women’s Fitness

Foundational Programs.

women's fitness

Jessica Bento, Physical Therapist

(Creator of DVRT For Women’s Program HERE)


I thought it was important earlier this week to establish why men and women are different. That women don’t have to feel compelled to follow the workout programs that guys like just because we are suppose to be “strong” too. We are suppose to be strong as women, but we have differences that may impact what we spend our time doing in our training. That is why I wanted to make today’s post about the 5 best DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training drills that women should be focusing upon.

Why DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training? For one, I think it does the BEST job of making people stronger in ways that go beyond just moving up and down. Life requires us to be strong in all sorts of ways, but most fitness programs still just place way too much emphasis on moving in just the sagittal plane.

Another reason I work so hard to push the education of DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training is because when you perform our DVRT exercises with the right intent it is AMAZING what one learns about their body and movement. We don’t just give exercises to make people work harder, we find the RIGHT movement to help people become better.

When you think about my last post (you can read HERE) I said that women’s fitness needs to be addressing things such as…

-Core strength

-Single leg stability/strength

-Movement in all three planes

-Using drills that teach how to integrate the entire body

women's fitness

Of course these concepts would be good for ANYONE, however, due to our structure and physiology they are especially important for great women’s fitness. With that said, where should you put your time? What exercises should you really strive to master? Well, these are 5 that I think hit all these ideas and make the MOST out of your training time.

Loaded Dead Bugs

Why start with something that most people would normally associate with rehab? Well, if you read my last post for women, there are a lot of women that should be doing some base rehab core exercises. Whether it is due to having been pregnant or possibly wearing high heels, a lot of women have a core that is shut off. This tends to put a lot of ladies into a position where there backs hurt because their posture is so off.

Loaded Dead Bugs help because they are our first step in seeing if people have good base control of their pelvis. You will be shocked at how many people can not maintain a neutral spine during this drill. Now, why loaded like I show in this video? Because we often need to do two things for people, help them feel what proper “bracing is like” as well as teaching them how to connect specific patterns. In this case the lat, core, and glute connection.

There are lots of variations of this movement, check out our DVRT Restoration Course for more HERE

It is the inability to maintain correct pelvic alignment that is the reason that I help so many people who love to do swings, deadlifts, and more, but keep having pain in their low backs!

Side Plank Iso Pulls

If you can’t tell I am HUGE into priming the body before we jump into hard training. I know, you want to go and do the “cool” and “bad ass” workout programs and exercises. GREAT!! However, NOTHING derails a program like getting injured.

Being a physical therapist I can’t possibly tell you the amount of people that I saw because they did just this! They saw, read, or heard about the great exercise that they should be doing and they simply did not have the fundamental movement skills to do it well!

Does this mean you can NOT do any of those exercises? No, in fact, doing these types of drills prior to your workout will go a long ways in being a BETTER form of warm-up than jumping on the treadmill for 10 minutes or stretching.

In this case I’m talking about our DVRT Side Plank Iso Pulls. I would love to say to do the rowing variation, but the simple truth is that most people can’t engage the RIGHT muscles in the upper body while in this position. That is the key of this drill. Learning how to load the lateral hip with the core and upper back muscles helps especially women, gain some important real world strength and resiliency.

Some may ask is the Ultimate Sandbag in doing this, my answer is a resounding YES! The leverage of the weight of the Ultimate Sandbag and playing with slack in the handle is a HUGE advantage in the performance of this exercise.

Lateral Bird Dog Drags

This is an exercise you can back door a lot of different ways because it hits many of the concerns that a lot of women’s fitness programs THINK they are addressing. There is the shoulder stability component, core strengthening, and learning how to properly use the glutes.

Since women have generally less upper body strength (due to less upper body muscle than men) most need to learn how to use their bodies smarter and the Lateral Bird Dog Drag does it so well! Big muscles don’t relate much to actual real world strength, but knowing HOW to use your body does!

The integration of the core with the shoulder is so key in shoulder health and sadly most never address this issue. I was in fact so frustrated with my Mom’s therapy for her shoulder because they never approached this topic. Of course being her daughter I had little influence and she went down the bad route of having a total shoulder replacement! Now, she struggles to do every day things and a lot of it could have been helped with smart drills like this!

Press Out Squats

Sure, what woman would say squatting would be BAD for their fitness goals?! This isn’t just about having you squat though. What drives me nuts as a health professional is the lack of information sharing with people how different forms of an exercise makes an impact on the result.

Yes, I have had men and women that come to me because their backs, knees, and/or hips hurt from squatting. The problem isn’t squatting itself but the fact they aren’t taught how to squat properly. Much of this is the lack of emphasis of making the squat a total body exercise rather than just “feeling the burn”.

Press Out Squats are SUPER important in learning the right way to squat. Slowly pressing the Ultimate Sandbag out from the body can help one learn the proper groove of the squat, how to take pressure off their knees, activate their core/lats, and totally change how they feel about the squat.

This isn’t just about pressing a weight out though, check out below two versions depending upon your upper body strength and weight of Ultimate Sandbag you can use!

If strength is a major issue in the upper body to start with or your Ultimate Sandbag is too heavy try the variation below.

Lateral Deadlift with Row

For a post that was giving a lot of strong foundations, this DVRT drill may seem out of place. The truth is that it is a very important drill for not only getting stronger and more fit, but identifying some possible key weaknesses.

It isn’t just women’s fitness programs, but fitness in general that ignores the fact we do way more than move up and down. In fact, a lot of the injuries that people suffer are not the result of not having strength in up and down motions, but side to side and rotation instead.

The DVRT Lateral Deadlift and Row drill is awesome because not only are there tons of layers to it, it can be introduced to any fitness level and quickly you will find out what you need to work on.

Moving laterally works glute medius and minimus, two of the three gluteal muscles that are really important for not just looks, but our low back health as well. Most just up and down motions only emphasize the gluteal maximus which is great, but missing a HUGE part of proper glute training.

We also get to see how well you can RESIST rotation with this exercise! A key to good core strength is having the ability to resist forces, not just produce them! When people often do this movement they don’t have such core strength and either rotate or start to come up too vertical in the row. A simple drill can have tons of power if you look for it!

Of course men can benefit from any of these drills as well. However, women’s fitness programs should DEFINITELY use them as we have specific needs that making sure that our training is not just challenging, but smart as well! It is about appreciating our differences that helps us get better results!

Want more information like this? Check out Jessica’s NEW DVRT for Women’s program and more HERE and save 25% all throughout our DVRT workouts with coupon code “vday”