Exercise offers tremendous health benefits including burning calories, lifting, toning, and strengthening the core and the back. Women tend to have different problem areas than men when it comes to toning, such as the stomach, hips and buttocks. We’ve picked three of the best exercises for women to make those gym sessions really count.

Single-Leg Dead Lift

This is an excellent exercise for lifting and toning the glutes, the three muscles in the backside that give the buttocks their firm, rounded shape. This exercise is also good for strengthening the lower back and it activates the entire core of the body.

Stand on the left foot and lift the right leg behind you, bending the right knee so the lower leg is parallel to the floor.  Bend forward, extending the leg while lowering the body as far as you can. Hold the position then push the body upright, using the glutes to push the hips forward. Dumbbells can make this exercise even more effective.   Repeat 10 times for each leg.

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Great as an upper chest exercise, pushups also burn calories and work the entire body.

Get down on the floor, stretched out on all fours with your feet together and your hands slightly wider than your shoulders. Lower your body by bending the arms until your chest almost reaches the floor.  Then straighten the arms, pushing yourself back up. Keep your hips lifted and your core engaged at all times. Start with 10 pushups and gradually build up to more.

Cardio Intervals

For a short but intensive calorie-burning workout, cardio intervals are one of the best exercises for women. You can do cardio interval routines while swimming, running, walking, cycling, rowing or any other form of exercise you choose.

Cardio interval training was created by Todd A. Astorino PhD who is an Associate Professor of Kinesiology at California State University. It’s a great way to maximize your calorie burn in a 20-minute session.

Minutes 1 through 5

Warm up slowly with your chosen activity.

Minutes 6 and 7

Push yourself as hard and fast as you possibly can, going all out for one minute.

Slow down and catch your breath as you continue your activity for one minute at a steady pace.

Minutes 8 through 17

Repeat the one minute of hard exercise and one minute of recovery five more times.

Minutes 18-20

Finish your exercise at a gradually slower pace as a cool down.

If you find this article useful, you may also enjoy this Women’s Health article on Cardio Workouts for Women with more great ideas for best exercises for women.