7 Best and Effective Free Weight Exercises for Women

Free Weights increases your range of motion and works on specific muscles. (Image via Unsplash / Limor Zellermayer)
Free Weights increases your range of motion and works on specific muscles. (Image via Unsplash / Limor Zellermayer)

While machines have their purpose and are excellent for beginners since they help with form and let you lift higher weights, free weights can offer more excellent value. Any weight you can pick up and move around, such as dumbbells, barbells, and kettlebells, is considered a free weight.

With free weights, you can work in any range of motion you desire, unlike with machines where the movement—and you—are fixed. Working against gravity and engaging your stabilizer muscles are both necessary for this.

Best Free-Weight Exercises for Women

1) Weighted Glute Bridge

Strengthening the posterior chain or the back of your body is a fundamental goal of glute bridge exercises.

Without undue strain on your lower back, this exercise works many of the same muscles as a squat would. Your glutes, hamstrings, and calves are the primary muscles worked.


To do the weighted glute bridge:

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the ground. Holding a dumbbell in place with your hands, place it slightly above your hipbones.
  • Squeeze your glutes as you raise your hips to the sky while bracing your core and pushing up through your heels. Your body needs to be in a straight line from shoulders to knees at the top.
  • After pausing, exhale and return to your starting posture.

2) Lunge

One leg is worked at a time during a lunge, making it a unilateral lower body exercise. It's a fantastic technique for improving balance and leg strength. Strength differences from side to side can also be corrected with its aid. Larger muscles like your quads, hamstrings, glutes, and calves are worked during lunges.

To ensure you're stable, practice this exercise using only your body weight. Use light dumbbells to begin when you're ready.


To perform this move:

  • To work your arms and shoulders, hold a dumbbell in each hand with your arms by your sides.
  • Take a large stride forward with your right foot lifted off the ground, bending your knee and lowering your torso as you do so.
  • Throughout the exercise, ensure your shoulders remain back and your chest remains upright.
  • Returning to your starting position, raise your right foot.
  • Lunging again with your left leg.

3) Overhead Shoulder Press

The overhead shoulder press will strengthen your upper body and improve your balance and posture. Before attempting to increase your strength, start with two light dumbbells to ensure you understand the technique.


To do this exercise:

  • Place a dumbbell in each hand as you hold yourself in a shoulder-width position.
  • With your hands facing out, raise the weights to the fronts of your shoulders.
  • Push the dumbbells up while maintaining a stable core and an upright posture and stretching your arms.
  • After pausing at the peak, release the weights by bending your elbows and allowing them to fall back to your shoulders.

4) Barbell Back Squat

Squats, which are described as a "functional" workout, have many advantages.

Not only will they make your body's biggest muscles stronger, but they'll also make it easier for you to carry out daily duties. Start with a light barbell because you'll need to load it safely onto your shoulders from the floor.


How to perform this exercise:

  • Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and load a barbell over your shoulders.
  • Sit back in your hips to begin the squat, then bend your knees. Look forward and keep your chest up.
  • Pause when your thighs are parallel, then push yourself up to the starting position.

5) Barbell Deadlift

Exercises like deadlifts are very beneficial to include in your regimen, but mastering the proper form can take some time. The strength advantage is almost unparalleled because it targets muscles from head to toe.


Here's how you do it:

  • Standing with your feet shoulder-width apart in front of a barbell that has been placed on the ground.
  • Bend your knees while keeping your back straight and grasp the barbell.
  • As you inhale, roll your shoulders back and down, and straighten your knees to raise the barbell.
  • Sit back in your hips, flex your knees, and lower the barbell to the floor once your legs are straight and it is resting against your torso.

6) Floor Chest Fly

The floor chest fly is an isometric activity that will test your chest.

To make sure you're performing with perfect form, you need to be aware of which muscles are starting the movement in this case.


Here's how you do it:

  • Lie on your back with knees bent, keeping your feets flat on the floor.
  • Dumbbells should be held in each hand, and your arms should be spread out so that your torso forms a T. Your palms should be facing the ceiling up.
  • Brace your core and raise the dumbbells toward your chest, utilizing your chest muscles while maintaining a little bend in your elbow.
  • Pause and then release back to starting position when the dumbbells touch in the middle.

7) Dumbbell Front Squat

Compared to a standard squat, the front squats more directly target the quads. Additionally, the weight is now on your front instead of your back, so it calls for stronger core strength.


To do this move:

  • Your feet should be shoulder-width apart while you stand, holding a dumbbell in each hand. Bring the weights to rest on your shoulders with one end put on it for stability while bending your elbows.
  • Squat while sitting back in your hips and resting the dumbbells here.
  • To get back to the beginning position, lift your heels.

Bottom Line

Beginners will do well to start with the first exercise progressions. They are easy to master and will fend off early injuries. It's always easier to make adjustments up front.

More advanced fitness enthusiasts can begin with the more aggressive workouts but realize that these will likely require greater concentration and focus on learning proper form and preventing injuries.

Quick Links