Weight Training Program For Women

Weight training for women

Using a weight training program for women to get into shape, or into better shape is a common goal. I find more often than not, women know what they want; the problem comes in finding the right program or routine that will give you what you want.

This article is made for women who want to target problem areas. These can generally center on the shoulders, chest and occasionally the upper arms, then can begin to surface again around the lower abdominals, glutes and hamstrings or rear legs.

Don’t feel alone, this is normal. I get asked questions regularly on what types of weight training exercises will target these areas the best: So… let’s find out!

A Good Weight Training Program for Women Should Consider... 

Athletic ability, age as-well-as present physical condition will all play a part in your ability to set and reach that athletic goal this year, while having enjoyed the time of of reaching it...

The right weight training program for women should be looked at honestly and realistically from one person; and that is You! 

Always try to be the wise owl and be responsible with the exercises I outline here: (if your a beginner), cut the exercise sets and the intensity down further to half.

Go at it slow: until your body becomes conditioned to the exercises. A good weight training program should consist of the best exercises to suit and prioritize those areas you have the most interest in working on.

You may also want to consider one more thing; a good healthy diet plan, which is responsible for 60 to 70% of keeping your energy stores up, and stored fatty tissue down.

Also a good but short cardio program added as a supplement to your weight training also does two things.

  •  First: it does burn calories, but too much cardio also releases a hormone called 'cortisol', which also burns muscle, this is something you don’t want! 
  • Second: this develops the heart, lungs and vessel capacity to be able to process and deliver more oxygen, which helps immensely with recovery times between training sets.

 Isolation and toning movements should also be considered as you target and strengthen other areas, these exercises often add the final polish and shape to the individual muscle groups your exercising.



So What Types of Exercises Should We Perform?

Barbells and women

This is a tough question to answer honestly; as there are different variables involved, such as: your natural athletic ability, genetics along with, whats the goal?

What are your realistic expectations towards your fitness level, that you really want to achieve?

This is not meant to scare you with the questions that I’ve mentioned, just be realistic, have a goal and direction and take it a day at a time.

I have designed a weekly workout program for you, with photos of the exercises and their explanations. The exercises are divided into upper and lower body, which are designed to be performed on their own days.

I have provided some of the very best weight training exercises I know of, to target and work these areas. Adding a-bit of sweat with intensity while maintaining good lifting form and being progressive is something I cannot supply, that I will leave to you!

First: if you do not have some athletic ability already, it might be a good idea to see your family or health care physician before you embark on weight training - Just as a precaution, (this of course is your choice).

Second: be sure to add in a warm up before you engage in the actual weight training exercises, especially: for exercises involving the shoulders or lower back.

Third: if you want to be serious about taking your body and athletic ability to the next level. You may want consider a small aerobic routine, preferably one that is dynamic. I’m not a big fan of performing aerobic exercises past the 15 - 20 minute mark. But...


Keeping a strong cardio component is important for weight training recovery and metabolism.

Fourth: having or adding a strong core component of exercises to your weight training, will put the final Polish on all of your hard work that you will see throughout the new physique you build.

Core meaning: abdominal's/lower back/sides etc. and include movements such as: twists, sit-ups, crunches, rope pulls, are all great for the body's core.

So let’s start with Monday, legs and Glutes:

Always start with a good warm-up, this can be cardio or ab-work, 10 to 12 minutes

Once you have become conditioned to these exercises and each persons efforts will differ, plan for the next step: try stepping out of your comfort zone a little further with the resistance and your rest times, weight training and receiving what you want from it is about increasing intensity.

Note: try not to perform all of the exercises shown here for every workout. instead choose different exercises from the daily menus, as time passes. Always be sure to mix the exercises up. This accomplishes two things.

First: this keeps exercise boredom down by adding new flavors to the training menu helps by keeping interest levels stimulated.

Second: muscles adapt very quickly to exercise strategies and routines, change helps alleviate this by stimulating the muscles with different exercises and training angles. 

     Wide to medium stance Barbell Squat:

Sets 2 - 3   Reps 10 - 12

As with all multi-joint compound exercises - try to challenge yourself by adding resistance as conditioning allows.

This exercise strengthens and tones the upper legs, upper and lower back including the shoulders - also act as strong stabilizers throughout exercise movement.

    DB Walking Lunges:


Sets 2 - 3   Reps 10 - 15 each leg 

Adjust dumbbell resistance to lifting level.

Push-off with a deep stride to stress the Glutes, Quads and Hamstrings.

Note: try to keep toes just beyond the knees at the bottom of each step.

Be mindful if your not used to this exercise, next-day soreness or tenderness in the glutes and hamstrings is common... but the pay-off of seeing new shape and shadows in your legs is worth it.




    Angled Leg Press:

Sets 3    Reps 10 - 12:

Using a medium to wide stance with the feet, lower push pad to deep stretch in the bottom of the exercise.

Push-out through the heels, avoid locking out the knees at the top. This exercise is great foe strengthening the big muscles of the upper legs and hips.


     Glute Bridges with the Barbell:

Sets 2 - 3     Reps 8 - 10

These can be preformed flat on the floor or as illustrated on a bench, the higher you arch, the more stimulation will be felt in the Glutes, Hamstrings and Calf muscles.

Note: if the resistance is uncomfortable on the hips use a towel or something of equal means, to alleviate it.


                                                                      Barbell Stiff Leg - Dead lifts:


Sets 2 - 3    Reps 8 - 10

Try to lower the bar within a few inches of the toes for a deep stretch.

If enough resistance is used stimulation should be felt predominately in the Glutes Hamstrings, Upper and lower back muscles.

Note: try to keep the legs as straight as you can, keeping the stress on the areas mentioned.



Tuesday: focusing on, upper body, arms, chest, shoulders

A good warm-up low intensity cardio/Cal aesthetic’s 8 to 10 minutes

     Wide Grip (Lat) pulldown's:

Sets 3    Reps 10 - 12

Starting as illustrated arms outstretched, arc your back slightly as you pull down touching the bar to your upper chest.

Focus pulling intensity efforts to those muscles of the upper back and not so much on the biceps.


                                                                    Standing or Seated Alternating DB Curls:

Sets 3   Reps 8 - 10

Challenge yourself with resistance on this exercise, because lots of women don't!

Standing or seated Dumbbell curls are agreat way to add tone andmuscle shape to the upper arms.

Biceps exercises are commonly used in many exercises, good looking firm biceps look as good on women as they do on men!


    Seated DB Shoulder Press:

Sets 2 - 3   Reps 8 - 10

Starting with Dumbbells resting at the shoulders, drive them up straight above the head.

Lower together as illustrated, try to avoid locking out the elbows at the top of the exercise.

Note: Always warm-up the shoulder before using much resistance...

always face straight ahead avoid moving your neck in the middle of any shoulder exercise.


    Machine Cable Rows:

Sets 2- 3    Reps 10 - 12

With the cable row exercise try to extend through a fullest range of motion. Fully extend, then as you pull back to the rib cage, Contract and squeeze the upper back muscles by slightly arcing your chest out... and challenge yourself with resistance. 


    Flat Bench Barbell Press:

Sets 2 - 3   Reps 8 - 10

Stating potion: hands should be beyond shoulder width, lower the bar to the central part of the chest.

Drive back-up in a smooth steady motion giving a strong momentary contraction in the chest and shoulders at the top or termination point in this exercise. 



Wednesday:  10 to 15 minutes of cardio. This day is to let the muscles rest.


Thursday: legs, Glutes and calves.

Be sure to warm-up - 8 to 10 minutes of low impact cardio.


    Narrow Stance BB Squat:

Sets 3 - 4   Reps 10 - 12

let's start with the barbell squat again, but with a narrower stance this time, keep the feet 6 to 8 inches apart.

The narrower stance still works the upper legs as a wider stance but offers more exercise emphasis on the out sides of the upper legs.

keep lifting form straight and moments smooth and fluid, it's this extra effort of controlling the resistance throughout the exercise is what shows the hard work from these exercises in a short time.


                                                                                      DB Bulgarian Split Squats:

Sets 2 - 3    Reps 8 - 10

Preformed one leg at a time, this exercise predominantly works the Glutes and Hamstrings with supporting resistance muscles of the shoulders.

This exercise also forces the bigger muscles of the quads to do the pushing out of this exercise: be sure to use appropriate resistance in this exercise to stimulate and balance your efforts. 

Note: Split squats provide a great stretch and muscle stimulation in the upper legs.


    Standing Leg Curls:

Sets 2 - 3   Reps  10 - 12

This exercise works the rear leg biceps, Glutes and Calf muscles.

this is a great toning and shaping exercise for these body parts. Challenge your self throughout workout duration, while working hard to feel the exercise movement on each repetition

    Standing Calf Raises:

Barbell calf raises

Sets 3   Reps 12 - 14

Start with a bar, with toes on a small block, (not shown in image), stand up on the tips of the toes as high as you can, momentarily contracting at the completion point, then release for a deep stretch at the bottom

The Calves are powerful muscles, challenge them with resistance because their a high density muscle group, they can take more punishment than most.


     Barbell Bridges:

Women's barbell bridges

Sets 2 - 3     Reps 8 - 10

These can be preformed flat on the floor or as illustrated on a bench, the higher you arch, the more stimulation will be felt in the Glutes, Hamstrings and Calf muscles.

Note: if the resistance is uncomfortable on the hips use a towel or something of equal means, to alleviate it.


     Leg Extensions:

Sets  3    Reps 10 - 12

This is a great exercise for adding shape and muscle tone to the front of the upper legs.

Use a full range of motion, contracting at the top of each repetition. (try to point your toes towards you as as you lift). As mentioned good contraction produces those great defining and shaping benefits your after.



Friday: upper body, shoulders, chest, arms

Again, be sure to warm-up: core-abdominal work, moderate intensity cardio 10 to 12 minutes.


   Smith Machine Incline Press:

Sets 3   Reps 8 - 10

Starting with a wider than shoulder width grip, release and lower the resistance to the upper chest, drive backup while trying to avoid locking out the elbows at he top.

Pressing exercises on this machine allows for more control throughout the exercise, this movement primarily works the upper chest, front shoulders and triceps on the rear of the upper arm.


                                                                                Medium Width Grip BB Curls:


Sets 2 - 3   Reps 10 - 12

This exercise stimulates the biceps and forearms - using a shoulder width underhand grip, make your movements slow and deliberate.

Always use a full range of motion with a full extension and contraction at the top or each rep... just remember great looking biceps are as sexy on women as they are on men.



    Seated Dips:

Seated Dips


Sets  2 - 3   Reps 8 - 10

Begin by lowering  slowly into a full stretch, allowing the lower the lower back to barely clear the bench behind you.

Using the front shoulders and triceps muscles to drive yourself back-up the starting point.

Dips are a great way to increase shoulder, upper arm strength and definition.


                                                                                       Standing DB Shoulder Laterals:


Sets 2 - 3   Reps 8 - 10

As illustrated keep dumbbell lateral movement smooth and steady, raising the dumbbell to the point where you can really feel this on the middle part of the shoulders.

DB lateral raises can be preformed seated or standing-booth have great benefits by building both strength and definition in the upper body. 

Note: not as much weight is needed on this exercise as it places you at a mechanical disadvantage. 


    Incline DB Flyes:

Sets 2 - 3   Reps 8 - 10

Starting at the top: palms facing one another, lower into exercise as deeply as you can.

Pull the dumbbells backup keeping the elbows slightly bent throughout the exercise and pause at the top with a momentary contraction at the top of the exercise.

Incline db flyes is a great upper chest and shoulder exercise, building both strength and definition in the upper body.


Saturday: day off and enjoy your rest.

Sunday: is technically a day off from weight training also, you may want to consider 10 - 15 minutes of morning cardio work, from moderate to intense; keeps the metabolism or (RMR ) stimulated. cardio in the morning will give you the rest of your Sunday free.

Summarizing weight training for women:

Try to meet each workout vigorously, include some fun and enthusiasm each training day, change your workouts regularly by changing the exercises and their intensity level.

This may sound trivial... but, the smallest changes can mean the biggest things with consistency, buy a new T-shirt or runners, change your hairstyle, or the music you listen to; after all change is what motivates us.

Use the weight training program provided, to achieve that new goal and body you want to build.

Enjoy the routine; as I have seen this work-well for other women. You are more than welcome to change the exercises you feel may work better for you, or give you stronger lifting leverage to suit your body’s natural lifting ability.

And feel free to adjust the sets and reps to your lifting level. 

Some of these exercises are tough if you’re not used to them; so go at your own pace, try to make your exercises and routine fun and challenging! 

 DWT


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