Forget the notion that strength training makes you bigger and bulkier. Besides helping you to tone up (no more flabby underarms and muffin tops!), it has other benefits too.

“Strength training for women not only improves heart and bone health, it also helps to speed up fat loss and makes you stronger,” says Limaran Agustina, a freelance personal trainer. “Women generally do not have as much testosterone (the hormone which contributes to muscle growth) as men, so we don’t bulk up that much.”

Incorporate these simple strength training exercises into your workouts. “Squats keep your legs and butt toned and strong. Dumbbell bent over rows help you build a strong and shapely back and waist. And shoulder presses are great for strengthening and toning the shoulders and arms,” she explains.

SQUAT

1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Bend your knees and sit back with your hips. Keep your chest upright and don’t let your knees travel over your toes.

2. Continue to lower your body until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Straighten up and do three to four sets of 10 repetitions. For added resistance, hold dumb-bells or even water bottles.

SHOULDER PRESS

1. Hold a dumb-bell in each hand and raise your arms to shoulder height, palms facing forward.

2. Keeping your chest upright, exhale and push the dumb-bells up above your head, until they touch at the top. Return your arms to shoulder height. Do three to four sets of 10 repetitions. 

DUMB-BELL BENT-OVER ROW

1. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and hold a dumb-bell in each hand. Bend your knees slightly and lean forward while pushing back your butt, letting the dumb-bells hang down so that they are around knee-level.

2. Pull the dumb-bells up to your abdominal area in a slow and controlled movement, keeping your elbows close to your body. Lower the weights carefully until your arms are fully extended. Do three to four sets of 10 repetitions. 

This article was originally published in Simply Her January 2015.