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Workout plans for women

by Steve Theunissen
woman workout

As a personal fitness trainer and gym owner, it has been very gratifying to see women the world over embracing the many benefits of working out over the past 10 years. Women have rejected the pervading myths about resistance training and used weights as the basis for building lean muscle tissue, shaping their body and losing body fat.

In this article, we will explore how to construct effective workouts for women utilizing weights, cardio and plyometrics to achieve 3 specific goals:

  • Muscle gain
  • Fat loss
  • Overall fitness

We will also discover how to create the best toning workout plan for females.

Women’s Muscle Building Workout Routine

In order to put on lean muscle tissue, women need to work harder than men. That is because they have a lot less testosterone in their bodies. Testosterone, a male growth hormone, is fundamental to the process of muscle building. Women are low in testosterone and high in estrogen, the female sexual hormone. (1)

Because of this, women need to train smart and hard. To put on muscle weight, they need to rely on compound exercises as the foundation of their workout. Start by taking the best pre workout for women to maximize training energy. Follow a rep scheme that incorporates high, medium and low schemes and that pyramid the weight each succeeding set. So, as you lower the reps, you increase the weight. You want the last 2-3 reps on each set to be very difficult. (2)

Here is a sample muscle building workout for women:

Full Body Workout for Women

Squats – 5 x 20 / 12 / 8 / 8 / 20

Lunges – 3 x 12

Deadlift (Dumbbells) – 4 x 15 / 10 / 8 / 8

Dumbbell Bench Press – 4 x 15 / 10 / 8 / 6

Lat Pulldowns – 4 x 15 / 10 / 8 / 6

Barbell Curls – 3 x 10 / 8 / 6

Tricep Pushdowns – 3 x 12

Seated Calf Raises – 3 x 20

This women’s muscle building workout routine should be performed twice per week with at least a 48 hour gap between workouts.

Auxiliary Workout Schedule for Women

Go to the gym the other day during the week and focus on the details of building your body with the following workout routine:

Pull Ups – 3 x AMAP (as many as possible)

Side Lateral Raises – 3 x 12

Leg Curls – 3 x 12

Leg Extensions – 3 x 12

Shrugs – 3 x 15

Fat Loss Workout for Females

The traditional fat accumulating problem areas for women are the hips, thighs and backs of the upper arms. This fat burning and workout plan for females is designed to target those areas. You will be focusing on slightly higher reps counts and faster movement through the workout to get your breathing heavy and burning more calories. (3)

Fat Loss Workout Program for Women:

  • Squats 3 x 20
  • Box Jumps 3 x 30 seconds (30 second rest between sets)
  • Lunges – 2 x 15
  • Deadlift – 3 x 20
  • Burpees – 2 x 12
  • Dumbbell Bench Press – 3 x 20
  • Pushups x 2 x AMRAP
  • Squats 2 x 20

Move through this workout at a steady pace that keeps you challenged. You do not want to cool down during the routine. Do the final sets of squats with no more than 30 seconds rest between sets.

Do this workout 3 times per week.

Overall Fitness Workout Routines for Women

Achieving overall fitness requires a combination of aerobic (with air) and anaerobic (without air) exercise to work both your muscles and your cardiovascular system. We’ve got two workouts to be performed twice a week each to allow you to achieve peak overall fitness. Perform one on Mondays and Wednesdays, with the other on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Monday / Wednesday Workout

Gym Circuit Training

Move through the circuit from one exercise to the next with no rest. Then rest for two minutes before repeating. Aim for 3 rounds of the circuit. This workout is a combination of weights, bodyweight and plyo. You will only need one barbell and a pair of dumbbells. Set yourself up in an area where you can move from one exercise to the next without pause.

  • Body Weight Squats x 20
  • Overhead Barbell Press x 15
  • Box Jumps – 30 seconds
  • Renegade Dumbbell  Rows x 10 each arm
  • Plan – 30 seconds
  • Burpees – 12
  • Dumbbell Press x 20
  • Mountain Climbers x 30

Tuesday / Thursday

HIIT Training Beginner Workout Plan for Women

Your High Intensity Interval Training sessions are the most time efficient and productive methods to torch body fat while also improving your aerobic fitness level. You can choose between the rowing machine, elliptical trainer, exercise bike or treadmill. Or, if you prefer, you can head outdoors to a field to do a HIIT sprint session. Here is an example of how to do a HIT outdoor sprint workout:

Begin with a two-minute warm up of slow jogging, building in intensity during the last 30 seconds. As soon as you hit the 2-minute mark, begin sprinting at maximum speed. Imagine that you are being chased by a huge, hungry dog with very sharp teeth! Pump your arms and move your legs with full strides. Keep pushing as hard as you can until you hear the 20 second alarm. Then slow to a walk for 10 seconds. Begin sprinting again. Your goal this time is to maintain the same speed and momentum that you did on the first sprint.

Repeat this sequence until you have completed 8 rounds of sprints. Be absolutely determined to not allow the quality of your sprints go down from round to round!

This workout will be all over inside of 10 minutes, including the warm up and warm down. But it will be extremely taxing. You should perform your HIIT training workouts twice per week. If possible, perform your workouts first thing in the morning as this is the best time to burn calories. Make sure to give yourself at least 48 hours between your HIIT sessions.


How long does it take to get in shape?

Getting in shape takes consistency in exercise and nutrition. By following these workout programs for women, you can improve your fitness level by 50 percent in 3 months if you have been sedentary. From there, your progress will not be so dramatic, but you can expect to be in great shape after 6 months of regular training.

How can I get in shape fast?

Consistency is the key to getting in shape fast. Follow a program for six weeks, striving to do a little bit more each time. Rotate through our 3 programs and you will get in shape fast.

What are the best back exercises for women?

The best back exercises for women are pull ups, deadlifts and one arm rows.

What are the most effective chest workouts for women?

You will get a good chest workout by following the upper body workout for women provided above. It also includes the best shoulder exercises for women.

What are the best leg exercises for women?

The best leg and glute exercises for women are squats, lunges and stiff legged deadlifts.

What are the best core exercises for women?

The best core exercises for women are floor based crunching exercises and leg raise movements, as well as hanging leg raises.

What are the best arm exercises for women?

The best arm exercises for women are barbell curls, cable curls and close grip pull ups.

How many days a week should you work out?

You should exercise -3-4 times per week. This will provide the stimulation your body needs while also giving it the rest it requires to recover, rebuild and recuperate.

Final Word

You now have workouts for 3 distinct training goals. Each of these goals work together to help you achieve peak conditioning. So, why not rotate the workouts every six weeks to provide your body with a complete, totally encompassing training regimen that will allow you to be your very best?


  1. https://www.thelancet.com/journals/landia/article/PIIS2213-8587(15)00284-3/fulltext
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11255140/
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16353426/

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