When it comes to training athletes who are women or being a woman who weight trains, it’s tricky to find good information to accomplish your goals.
There are those who are in the camp that women’s training is no different than any other form of weight training, and to an extent that is true. Similar principles apply – enjoyment, volume, frequency, and progression all need to be in your programs.
But many times, women have different goals. And those goals change throughout life.
Certain body parts for women also respond better and recover faster than the same body parts on a man (i.e. Legs and glutes).
That’s not even diving into the hormonal differences which can really complicate things if you want to maximize your training throughout the course of a 28 day cycle – although for the recreational lifter, a consistent training program month to month will work just fine.
If anything though, it’s exciting to see the literature and media paint a little clearer of a picture for women who are interested in physique-related goals and who want to accomplish those goals via resistance training.
What will follow below is a 5 day workout routine template that is a solid choice for any athlete looking build her physique through resistance training.
5 Day Women’s Workout Overview
The workout routine below consists of 5 weight resistance training days. It focuses on areas of the body that a lot of women look to build and shape through their training: Legs, glutes, shoulders and arms.
In addition to these muscle groups, the workout template also effectively trains the entire body to promote strength.
A lot of the glute recommendations within the program follow the research and training recommendations of Bret Contreras, aka The Glute Guy. If you haven’t followed his work before and you are interested in maximizing your training, I highly recommend looking into him.
The workout follows an upper/lower split to an extent. Day one works legs and shoulder, day 2 is purely upper body focused, day 3 is a glute focused training day, day 4 is upper focused again, and we wrap up the week with another leg workout.
As a result, you’ll be training the muscles of the glutes and legs 3 times per week, which is a solid training frequency to elicit growth. Some may be able to train them even more than this, but 3 working sessions a week is a good starting point.
The program doesn’t call for any cardio. You can perform cardio in addition to this program if it is something you enjoy doing, however, you will need to monitor to see how it affects your ability to recover from your weight training sessions. If you do not want to do cardio, this program plus a well maintained nutritional approach is all you really need to achieve a healthy physique.
There is also no abdominal training recommendations. Most people will see improvements in their abdominal development as their body composition changes through resistance training and nutrition approaches.
Lastly, when it comes to rest periods in between sets, these can be highly individualized based on time constraints and personal recovery abilities. Rest for however long you need to for maximum recovery without going over whatever time you have allocated in your day for your workouts.
Women’s Workout 1: Legs & Shoulder Workout
|Dumbbell Stiff Leg Deadlift||3||8-12|
|Step Ups||3||12-15 Each|
Women’s Workout 2: Upper Body Workout
|Dumbbell Bench Press||3||8-12|
|Cable Bicep Curl||2||12|
|Cable Tricep Extension||2||12|
*Use assistance (<6 total) or resistance (>15 total) if needed
Women’s Workout 3: Glute Focused Workout
|Stiff Leg Deadlift||3||8|
|Knee Banded Glute Bridge||3||30|
|Band Seated Hip Abduction||3||50|
Women’s Workout 4: Upper Body Workout
|Lat Pull Down||3||8-12|
|One Arm Dumbbell Row||3||6-8 Each|
|Machine Lateral Raise||3||12-15|
|EZ Bar Overhead Extension||2||12|
Women’s Workout 5: Legs
|Trap Bar Deadlift||3||6-8|
|Lying Leg Curl||3||8-12|
|Machine Hip Abduction||3||10-12|
|Bodyweight Glute Bridge||3||30|
Additional Program Info
When selecting a weight to use for each exercise, you’ll want to pick a weight that is challenging but doesn’t take the movement to complete failure. This will be anywhere from a 7-9 RPE. This means, you’ll finish each set feeling as though you have anywhere between 1-3 reps in reserve.
Since there are only 5 workouts in this template, it is recommended that you document each training session and attempt to improve upon your sessions week to week or month to month. As long as you are progressing in the total amount of weight you’re moving over time, you will see the desired results.
As mentioned, the workout is simply a template and exercises can be modified in whatever ways you need to help make the movement(s) more effective for your own needs. Volume can also be modified if you find it difficult to recover from any individual sessions.
Other Things to Consider
If you’d like additional references to look into, read, and perhaps apply to your training, I would definitely recommend giving the following articles on Muscle & Strength a read:
- 38 Women Fitness Experts Share Tips on Fat Loss for Women
- How to Train with Your Menstrual Cycle
- How Should Women Approach Weight Training and Exercise?
- 6 Most Frequently Asked Women's Health & Fitness Questions Answered
- Muscle & Strength’s Daily Calorie Calculator
- How to Calculate the Perfect Macros for Your Fitness Goals
- Hacking Your Sleep 101: Nine Tips For Better Gains
- How to Build Muscle: 5 Step Guide to Lean Gains
And if you have any specific questions regarding the workout program listed, please feel free to leave a comment below!