Add muscle, burn fat, and boost your overall health with this 4-week full-body beginner's workout routine designed specifically for women.
Workout Summary
  • Main Goal
    Build Muscle
  • Workout Type
    Full Body
  • Training Level
  • Program Duration4 weeks
  • Days Per Week
  • Time Per Workout45-60 minutes
  • Equipment Required
    Bands, Barbell, Cables, Dumbbells, Machines
  • Target Gender Female
  • Workout PDF Download Workout

Workout Description

First day at the gym and feeling overwhelmed already?

Not sure where to start or how to accomplish your goals?

Many women want to start strength training but feel intimidated by their lack of knowledge, current fitness level, age, or gender. If the lack of a structured program is holding you back, then look no further. I’ve got you covered.

I want to make things simple for you. I’ve written 4 weeks of basic programming that will help you improve your health and give you the body you’re looking for.

Day 1

Exercise Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4
A1. Goblet Squat 3x8 3x8 4x8 4x8
A2. Half Turkish Get Up 3x3/side 3x3/side 4x3/side 4x3/side
B1. Eccentric Push Up 3x5-6 3x5-6 3x5-6 3x5-6
B2. DB Row 3x8-10 3x8-10 3x8-10 3x8-10
C1. Barbell Glute Bridge 2x10-12 2x10-12 2x10-12 2x10-12
C2. DB Reverse Lunge 2x8/leg 2x8/leg 2x8/leg 2x8/leg
C3. Half Kneeling Cable Chop 2x5/side 2x5/side 2x5/side 2x5/side

You’re going to notice a trend throughout this program: lots of lower body work coupled with some basic pulling and pushing for the upper body. I like to keep things simple, especially if you’re just learning the basics and becoming accustomed to weight training.

For goblet squats, feel free to use a dumbbell or a kettlebell, as both will provide a similar training stimulus. A dumbbell might be slightly easier to hold due to the nature of its shape, but experiment with both to see which one you like more.

woman does a push-up on the gym floor

Confused about the push up variation? Essentially, the eccentric component is the lowering portion of any exercise. Start with a 3-4 second eccentric for each rep and try to gradually increase over time.

I should also note, make sure to use a foam airex or squat pad to cushion the bar during glute bridges as it can bruise your ASIS if you’re not careful.

Day 2

Exercise Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4
A1. DB Bench 3x6-8 3x6-8 3x6-8 3x6-8
A2. Band Pull Apart 3x10 3x10 3x10 3x10
B1. Assisted Chin Up (Band or Machine) 3x4-6 3x4-6 3x4-6 3x4-6
B2. Cable Pullthrough 3x12 3x12 3x12 3x12
C1. Half Kneeling Vertical Pallof Press 2x8 2x8 3x8 3x8
C2. DB Goblet Lateral Lunge 2x8/side 2x8/side 3x8/side 3x8/side
C3. Half Kneeling Facepull 2x12 2x12 3x12 3x12

Day 2 is pretty straightforward aside from some core variations and supplementary pulling work. If you don’t have access to a pullup assistance machine, then I would recommend you secure a medium density band around the pullup bar and then loop it around your feet to provide some assistance.

Day 3

Exercise Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4
A1. Sumo Deadlift 4x4 4x5 5x4 5x5
A2. Bench T-Spine Mobilization 4x4 4x5 5x4 5x5
B1. Counterbalanced Single Leg Squat to Bench 3x6/leg 3x6/leg 3x7/leg 3x7/leg
B2. Inverted Row 3x8-10 3x8-10 3x8-10 3x8-10
C1. Incline Push Up 2x6-8 2x6-8 2x6-8 2x6-8
C2. Seated Leg Curl 2x10-12 2x10-12 2x10-12 2x10-12
C3. Side Plank w/Reach 2x4-6/side 2x4-6/side 2x4-6/side 2x4-6/side

Sumo deadlifts are fairly similar to conventional deadlifts except the feet are wider and the toes are turned out slightly in order to allow for more external rotation at the hip joint.

I’ve included some incline push ups for some additional practice, but if you’re feeling strong, feel free to try out a few on flat ground.

For the assistance work in this program, keep rest periods between 60-70 seconds. For the compounds you’ll likely need a bit more down time between sets so aim for anywhere between 120-150 seconds.

women gets ready to do a sumo deadlift

Closing Thoughts

Don’t know what an exercise looks like? Check out my YouTube channel, which is linked in my bio below.

If you’re still confused, just drop a comment and I’ll be happy to personally work one on one with you.

Elisabeth Mitchell
Posted on: Sat, 07/23/2022 - 22:04

I am over 50 year old female and just finished your 4 wk beginner workout for women. What would you suggest for me to further my training?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Sat, 07/30/2022 - 09:27

Thanks for reading M&S, and congrats on finishing the 4 week program, Elisabeth! What are your next goals? I can make a suggestion based on whatever your priorities are.

Posted on: Mon, 12/06/2021 - 15:37

Thank you so much for the program. My confusion is, how should I decide on the amount of weight for weighted exercises, and how should I increase the weights, or should I finish 4 weeks with the same amounts?
And also, exercises such as push up and chin up seems still hard to apply to me since I am a very beginner at the gym, and some exercises are hard to be applied because of the facilities. For these kinds of situations, do you have optional exercises which activate the same muscle group, or how can I compensate for the exercises that I am not able to do?

Thanks in advance

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 12/06/2021 - 18:09

Hi, Yaren. Hopefully I can help you out.

Determining the weight is trial and error. You should pick weights that make you work, but you should still be able to finish the set. Once it gets easy to do, go up in weight.

Pushups can be done anywhere you have open space. As for the pullups, does your gym not have a pullup assistant? Does it have a cable station? If you need to use cables, do lat pulldowns instead. I don't know what your gym has, but M&S has a great Exercises section at the top that you can find exercises that you can do.

Posted on: Mon, 10/26/2020 - 22:13

When it says 3x8- 10 does that mean three sets of 8 or ten also how much weight are we supposed to use?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 10/27/2020 - 09:16

Hey Samantha - you'll do three sets of 8-10 reps. If you use a heavy weight, you'll likely do 8 reps. If you use a more moderate weight, you'll do 10 reps. The weight you choose should be one that you can move safely and with proper form for the given number of reps.

Posted on: Tue, 11/13/2018 - 11:58

How many calories a day should I consume on this plan ?

Posted on: Tue, 03/13/2018 - 06:16

Hi Mike,

Would you recommend :
1. Lower Body (15 min elliptical to start + 15 min walk on incline to finish) + abs
2. Cardio
3. Upper Body 9 (15 min elliptical to start + 15 min walk on incline to finish)) + abs
4. Cardio
5. Full Body 2x instead of 3x sets on the other days 15 min elliptical to start + foam rolling and more stretching than the other days.
6 + 7 rest

What do you think?
Thank you.

Erika Quijano
Posted on: Wed, 01/17/2018 - 10:55

If I excercise 5 days a week how can I follow this 3 day schedule?

Should I do cardio between Day 1 and Day 2? And Day 2 and Day 3?


M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Wed, 01/17/2018 - 12:41

Hi Erika,

Yes, I would set it up like this:

M- Day 1
T - Cardio/active recovery
W - Day 2
Th-- Cardio/active recovery
F - Day 3
Weekends - off/active recovery

Hope this helps!

Allison Davis
Posted on: Sun, 05/07/2017 - 08:32

Am going to try this workout at the gym
Just want to know how I could print it out please?
Cheers Allison

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 05/08/2017 - 09:24

Hi Allison,

We are working to add printable PDFs to all of our workout programs in the very near future. They aren't ready just quite yet, but should be available soon. I apologize for the inconvenience in the meantime!

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Thu, 01/04/2018 - 11:04

Hi Allison,

Realize it's been awhile since I said the PDF was coming for this workout, but it has officially been added to this workout routine. :)

Hope you've had success with the program!

Posted on: Sun, 04/16/2017 - 14:38

Are these suggested exercises here compound exercises? As I'm a ectomophic body type and research has suggested to me that compound exercise are the only exercises suitable for results. Plus a warm up & cool down is required for these workouts right? Do you have any of those available?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 04/17/2017 - 09:44

Hi Laura,

Somatypes (ectomorph, mesomorph, endomorph) is kind of a dated theory and has been disproved over the years. Below is an excellent article by the same author of this one where he touches on the concept and how it should be used in this day and age:

With that said, yes this workout will help you accomplish your fitness related goals if paired with proper diet and nutrition.

As for warm ups, they can be highly specified by person and workout being performed that day. Below is an excellent article to start with:

Hope this helps!

Robert Rivera
Posted on: Sat, 01/14/2017 - 09:36

Hello. My only question about the program is with day 3. I see that you start the workout with low rep sumo squats. My question is how do you find the appropriate weight and teach the technique to a complete beginner useing heavy loads right out the gate ?

Posted on: Sun, 03/20/2016 - 10:22

Few questions :) I am completely new to an independent lifting program, I did Track and Field in high school and know some basics but had a coach. How do I assess my starting amount of weight to lift and reassessment during the four week course? When doing the workouts do I do one set of A1 then a set of A2 then return to A1 and repeat until moving on to B? I greatly appreciate your article and have not looked around this site very much yet.

Posted on: Mon, 07/27/2015 - 20:16

I'm confused about the names of these workouts that aren't linked. When I go to your YouTube channel, I don't find videos with the label of the workout names either. Where can I find them? And what do the A, B, and C stand for?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 07/28/2015 - 10:00

A, B, and C all denote supersets, meaning that you perform those exercises together (i.e. A1&A2 together, B1&B2 together, etc.)

All exercises aren't linked directly and not all are available publicly. However, most are there.

Posted on: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 23:13

For each workout, when it states 3x8 for example, what does that stand for? 3 reps level 8 intensity? ...totally a newbie here if you can't tell! LOL

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 02/09/2016 - 09:56

3x8 refers to 3 sets of 8.

Posted on: Wed, 01/31/2018 - 13:47

So does this mean that when you do A1 and A2 together, do you alternate back and forth between these like between sets or can i do A1 complete the sets and then move on to A2? Just trying to understand what it looks like. Thanks

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Wed, 01/31/2018 - 15:08

Hi Cyndi,

That represents a superset. You should perform all of the exercises consecutively before taking your rest period.

Hope this helps!

Posted on: Fri, 07/10/2015 - 20:01

Hi ! I'm definitely excited to try out this 3 day workout plan that you have posted . I was wondering would you do cardio right after the workout days ? Or just do cardio on a separate day ? 20-30min worth to tone and shred?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 07/28/2015 - 10:06

Hey Jessica,
I would either option is fine depending upon which ever works best for your schedule. I would also recommend some high and low intensity options found here:

Just keep in mind that the "toned" look most women are going for is going to be accomplished by adding muscle mass to your frame, not by slimming down indefinitely. If someone wants to lose weight, that should primarily be accomplished through a caloric deficit, not through excessive amounts of cardiovascular work.

Weight training won't make you bulky or cause you to lose your shapely frame as you don't have the hormones for that to take place.