• Ben Banbury

The Most Effective 8 Exercises For A Stronger, Leaner Body

Ladies if you want to get leaner and tone up, you're going to need to use weights. These exercises are guaranteed to change your shape and get you stronger!

Below are the exact exercises that I used with my client Claire who wanted to improve her shape and muscle tone

I put her on my female strength plan for 6 weeks before her holiday to Australia and the results were incredible

Her body is not only more shapely in the legs and bum (which she's chuffed about) but also her arms are leaner and much stronger

To get Claire to where she wanted to be I focused 100% of our efforts on weights and resistance training. After all, a toned body is the result of weight training, not cardio

I thought it was only fair that I share the exercises that I put Claire's incredible transformation down to, in the hope that it encourages a few of you to lift weights and feel as amazing as Claire does!

1. Squats

The king of all exercises. An exercise plan worth doing will involve plenty of squats

Squats work all the muscles below the belt, the core and even the lower and upper back muscles which help stabilize the torso

The best exercises are the ones that work the most muscles. This creates more "bang for your buck" and squats do exactly that

TIP: When you're squatting focus on pushing your bum back, pushing the knees out and driving through the bum

This will ensure you're getting the maximum benefit out of the movement in the safest way possible

Shoot for 5x12

2. Inverted Row

Ever heard of it? It's not in enough programs

Inverted rows work the muscles in the mid-back. These guys are essential for a strong posture

Unfortunately, a lot of poorly made plans don't include many rows, which leads to an imbalance. This imbalance causes people's shoulders to round forward, causing neck aches and "crunchy" shoulders

Sound familiar?

To combat this (and look way more attractive with good posture!) add some form of rows to your workout plan

TIP: When rowing, make sure to pull with your elbows. This cue will help you engage your back muscles and not your biceps as much

Focus on your shoulder blades sliding together at the top and try your hardest to not let your shoulders shrug

Aim for 3x10

3. Pressups

The ultimate upper body exercise

Pressups are an exercise that are easy to get wrong, but when executed correctly will completely change your arms, shoulders and even core

Think about it, a pressup's a moving plank!

TIP: When performing pressups on your knees, make sure your back creates a "ramp" shape and not a "box" shape

Your back should be straight but not flat. If I was to put a book on your back it should slide off towards your bum

This ensures that your wrist is not in a bad angle and you're correctly engaging your chest muscles

The same as the row, try not to let your shoulders shrug as this will only engage your traps (neck muscles) more

Aim for 3x8 to start

4. Plank (or variations)

I'll be the first person to tell you that planks are boring

So what I always do is show my clients slightly tougher but more interesting variations

Two common variations I use a lot are plank taps or plank with heel raises

All this does is makes you even more unbalanced which works your core muscles even harder

TIP: When performing any plank always make sure your back is dead straight. Whatever you do don't allow your bum to drop and your lower back to arch

This will instantly "turn off" your abs and put strain on your lower back. Not cool.

Go for 3x20 slow reps

5. Deadlifts

If I had 100 fitness coaches in front of me and asked what were more effective, deadlifts or squats the room would be in complete uproar

It would be like asking a teenage boy from the 90s who's more attractive Mary-Kate or Ashley

Both squats and deadlifts are SO effective and beneficial that I'd go as far to say you could be in your best shape from just those two movements alone!

"But what about my core?"

Deadlifts work your abs like none other. To stand tall with the weight and to support your spine requires amazing abdominal activation

TIP: Focus on "pushing your bum back" and not just lowering the weight

Lowering the weight will most likely results in a curved spine which can end in tears

Instead, you're looking for a straight back which can be achieved by imagining there's a piece of rope attached to your belt pulling you back horizontally

Engage your abs like someones about to slap your stomach and squeeze your bum as hard as you can at the top, focusing on it working through the whole rep

Aim for 4x12 and don't be afraid to go heavy!

6. Glute Bridge

I literally can't remember the last Bootcamp, 1:1 or online program I've built that doesn't include glute bridges

Due to our modern lifestyle's, every single one of us will sit more than we should do, that's just a fact

Extended periods of sitting result in one thing - sleepy glutes

Which doesn't sound like a problem until you start to get lower back pain tieing your shoelaces

.. Oh dear

Your bum's fast asleep but you're still living your life, so what happens?

Your lower back picks up the slack

Glute bridges will keep the physio away and shape a peachy set of glutes!

TIP: Push through your heels when performing and try not to let your back arch

At the top of the movement, your body should be in a straight line from your chest to your knees. Make sure your stomach isn't "doming". Squeeze your stomach as hard as possible to prevent it

3x20 will wake those glutes up nicely!

7. Curl to Press

If a client says to me "I want toned arms" curl to press is the first exercise that pings into my head

The curl really effectively works the biceps and the press works the triceps and shoulders

So you're targeting both the muscles in the arm, plus throwing in some shoulder work for good measure

Not bad ey!

TIP: When you're performing a curl to press, try and ensure your arms are dead straight at the bottom and top of the exercise

This ensures you're getting a full range of motion out of the exercise and working the entire muscle equally

Also, think of it as a plank. If you brace your core and squeeze your bum you'll get a cracking ab workout at the same time!

3x10 should do the trick

8. Bicycle Crunches

I love and hate bicycle crunches

I love how they work the entire ab section in one awesome movement

But I hate the way so many people butcher the form

They look like they're trapped in clingfilm, vigorously flailing their limbs in every pissible angle

All other ab exercises are slow and controlled. Then it's time for bicycle crunches and it looks like they're being prodded with a cattle rod! Keep it slow!

TIP: When performing a bicycle crunch, focus on rotating 90 degrees left and right, and kicking your feet towards the ground, not the ceiling

The motion should be slow and enthusiasm should be on rotating towards your knee

Do this properly and you'll work your abs from every conceivable angle and the results will speak for themselves!

Aim for 3x20

CHEEKY BONUS! Skullcrushers

I thought I'd add skull crushers in too as Claire really wanted to tone the back of her arms up as much as possible

Skull crushers will target and tone the triceps, which is a problem area for many women

TIP: Lay on your back with your arms directly above your shoulder. Now don't allow your upper arm to move an inch, imagine it's super glued straight and the only movement comes from your elbow

Allowing your upper arm to move will reduce the tricep activation and you won't get as much out of the movement!

Try 3x15


The list above are the absolute best exercises for improving your strength and shape

Make sure to always push yourself at a realistic level and don't ease of the weight

You should be aiming to up the weight constantly. If you're squatting the same weight as you were 6 weeks ago, your body doesn't need to adapt!

Keep working your way up the weights, remain consistent and I promise these exercises will completely change the way you look

Thanks for reading,

Drop me an email if there's anythign I can do to help!

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