Pump You Up: 24 Exercises To Build Muscle Fast

| Fitness

muscles woman

No woman wants more fat than muscle, so it's time to burn up the fat cell storage and replace it all with awesome muscle. Developing muscles for certain skills can take time, but if you're up for the challenge, there's a way around it. This doesn't mean you'll be bulky like a female Arnold Schwarzenegger. No, no. This means you'll be healthy, toned and rocking the figure of a strong woman! These exercises are split up into a few different workout umbrellas, including compound moves, yoga, CrossFit, plyometrics and more.


This means you're working at least two muscle groups with first priority. Usually an upper body and lower body group combine so you're requiring blood flow all over the body, which means you're using more energy and burning more fat. You'll make room for superior muscle growth in no time!

1. Squat and Triceps Extension: Grab a dumbbell and hold it over your head with both hands. Touch your arms to your head and drop the weight back as you squat. You'll target the triceps, glutes and quads. Inhale on the way down and exhale as you come up. See it here. 


2. Reverse Lunge and Press: Test your balance with this combo! Stand with your feet under your hips, then lunge backward, keeping the weights at your shoulders. Push out of the lunge as the knee lifts forward and press the weights overhead. Immediately get back to that lunge! Check it out here.


>> WATCH: 2-for-1 Compound Moves for the Busy Mom

3. BOSU Burpee with Pushup: Who doesn't like a good burpee? Pair with a pushup and add an extra challenge with the BOSU ball. Ball-side down, pop out into your plank and rock your core with a steady pushup before you jump the feet in and rise. This will totally wear you out! See it here.


4. Fly with Bridge: Work the booty and lift the girls at the same time! Lie on your back with the dumbbells pressed overhead to start. Once you're there, push up into your bridge and open the arms out to the side while your hips are lifted. Lower the hips to the floor, bring the arms over the chest again and repeat! Learn more here.

Fly with Bridge


Most of the time, you're using only your bodyweight and your given range of motion to flow through movements. Yoga can be very relaxing, but it can also be very intense. Try some of these transitional movements to challenge your muscles.

5. Three-Legged Dog to Knee Tuck: One of the most go-to poses in yoga is the downward dog. If you have the flexibility to get your heels to the floor, go for it every time. Once you're in down dog, lift one leg and tuck it under the chest as you come forward. Keep repeating without setting the leg down and you'll burn up the core, glutes and shoulders with this coordinated move. Flow over here to see more.


6. Chaturanga: Downward dog to plank to chaturanga to upward facing dog and repeat to nail this one. For more of a flow, try pushing your head between your arms as you lower the chest to the floor, essentially skipping the stop at plankville. Check it out here.

chaturanga dandasana

7. Downward Dog Pushup: Seeing a trend with the downward dog?! For this move, you want to aim the crown of your head toward the mat. Make sure you're looking at your belly button to keep good form. This will target the shoulders, back and core. Get more on it here.



Don't be shy! CrossFit can be pretty intense, but it's all built upon a foundation of good techniques and basic exercises that you can easily find in other sports and gym practices. Nail these and you'll see results fast!

8. Kettlebell Snatch: Start low in a squat with the weight between the feet, not in front of them. Pull it straight up to the chest, using the elbow to steer. Without pausing, flip the bell to the back of the wrist and push it overhead as you "catch" the weight of it in a squat. Get more details here.


9. Wall Balls: These will catch up with you quickly, tiring out the legs and shoulders. Drop into a squat, then explode as you launch the ball upward. Aim for the same line or spot on the wall every time. When you catch it, drop straight back into your squat or at least have soft knees. See it here.


10. Ring Rows/Inverted Rows: The same rules for a plank apply to this body row: chest, hips and thighs all lift and lower as one solid unit. Try to get the chest and hands as close together as possible. Change the angle of your body to make it easier or harder. Get details here.


11. Thrusters: Skinny Mom CEO and founder Brooke Griffin makes thrusters look easy (and pretty), but this exercise is anything but! You'll want to make a smooth transition from the squat to the press. As you push out of the squat, you're also pushing the weights overhead. Straighten the arms for it to count. Then you'll drop the weights to shoulder level as you drop the hips into another squat. See it with a kettlebell here.



How quickly can your body react? Is your mind ahead of your feet? Time to get coordinated and invest in your fast-twitch muscle fibers that direct your agility, reaction time and burn mega calories. Get ready to jump!

12. Squat Jumps: Fire up your legs and heart with these big-muscle jumps. Every time you drop into the squat, make sure you're getting weight in your heels. Push out of it, using your arms. You can get more air if you throw the arms upward. Land back into your squat for more! Learn to love it here. 

13. Jumping Lunges: If you're wanting to tone your legs and thighs, these lunges will do the trick! Make sure your feet stay hip-width apart, not too wide and not crossing behind or in front of each other. Use your arms for momentum and find that perfect 90-degree bend. See it here.

Jumping Lunges

14. Bench Jumps: These might look like they're powered by all legs, but that's not the case. Bench or box jumps require an amazing core to assist the lift and guide the forward direction. Muscles get stronger, faster when they work together. Land with soft knees on top, stand up straight, then step down to repeat. Get more here.


15. Pushup Jack: Abs and arms, abs and arms! Start in a high plank with your feet together. Drop the chest, hips and thighs in a straight line to your push up as you jack the feet wide. Exhale to push out of it and bring the legs together again. Get more step-by-step guidance here.



Pick up that barbell, girlfriend, and own it. These resistance moves can really push you mentally and help you command those muscles. Don't be afraid to go heavy! Any time you use weights, remember to keep your sets between eight and 12 reps, or lower for bigger weights. Quality over quantity!

16. Romanian Deadlift: You know what's good for you? A deadlift. For this move, you have to keep your weight in your heels at all times, able to wiggle your toes whenever. Slightly arch the back or keep it flat – never rounded! The weights must stay close to the body, so close that you can feel them slide up and down your legs. You'll work your hamstrings and butt while strengthen your low back. Get more helpful tips here.

>> Read more: Why Women Should Deadlift (And How To Do It)

17. Push Press: Get the stronger shoulders you've always wanted while working on your abs. Start by standing tall, then dipping for momentum as you push up. Repeat steps two and three for several reps. Go ahead and go heavy! See the push press here.

push press demo how to

18. Kettlebell Goblet Squat: Pick up a decently heavy kettlebell and go through this one nice and slow to really absorb the burn. Keep the kettlebell just underneath the chin and hinge the hips to squat as your chest stays lifted. Push out of it and let the hips come forward to complete the rep. Even though you have weight in front, you want to focus your pressure in the heels and posterior side of the body. Check out the video below or get more details here. 


19. Front Squat: A cousin to the goblet squat, you can work the legs, butt, back, core and shoulders with the front squat. Try to break parallel, which means you want to try to get the hips lower than the knees. That will take flexibility to get into and strength to get out of! Find your best form here.


20. Bridge with Ring: The ring of fire can do wonders for your body, especially the thighs. Come into your bridge and squeeze the ring. You'll stabilize through the glutes (burn) and actively work the inner thighs (double burn) while maintaining a strong core (triple burn). Learn more about it here.



Most of these exercises do not require equipment, but for those that do, keep in mind that you're only using your bodyweight to train. You're asking your muscle groups to work together. Use good form and always use your core no matter what you're doing

21. Prisoner Get Ups: Get up off the floor without using your hands! You end up pushing all of your body weight into one leg, requiring assistance from the core. Make sure you alternate the legs with each rep. Get arrested here.


22. Hand Release Pushups: This is the best way to challenge your pushup strength. When you get to the bottom and release the hands, you're starting your pushup with zero momentum and power. You'll get double the results compared to a regular pushup. No peeling! Get more details here.


23. Pull-Ups: Lift your entire body with just your arms! Whether you have an underhand or overhand grip, you'll really bust your abs, arms and back with this one. You might not be able to do it, yet, but you can work your way towards it be strength training: bent over rows, inverted rows, assisted pull-ups with bands and more. See how to start your progression here.

(Photo: Girls Gone Strong)

24. Crossover Plank: You could just hold a plank, or you would walk with it. Cross the hands over to step to one side, drop into a low plank, then push out of it and return to the other side. Keep this pattern going to work the shoulders and core. Get more of a step-by-step here.