- Main GoalIncrease Strength
- Workout TypeFull Body
- Training LevelBeginner
- Program Duration6 weeks
- Days Per Week3
- Time Per Workout40 minutes
- Equipment RequiredBodyweight, Dumbbells
- Target Gender Female
- Workout PDF Download Workout
It’s always great when we can take care of two things simultaneously. Life doesn’t work that way, but it can work when it comes to training. For example, many women are looking for ways to train with the goals of getting stronger and leaner.
While this program won’t help you win a powerlifting meet or a physique show, it will help you burn a lot of calories in a short time, and you may notice that you’re getting stronger in the process.
The program that follows will be for six weeks, three times a week. You can do it on a Monday, Wednesday, and Friday schedule, or you can take two days off between sessions. The only requirement is that you not train two days in a row. Recovery matters just as much as training, and doing a routine like this for three days in a row will wear you out quickly, which isn’t a good thing if strength and conditioning matter.
Can You Do Other Workouts?
If you have a busy schedule, then this program should be enough to help you achieve results. If you want to add light cardio, such as walks or average effort on a cardio machine like an elliptical, you should be fine. Going through another weight training schedule on top of this isn’t recommended as it could increase the risk of injury.
What You Need
All of the exercises in this program are either free weight movements or bodyweight exercises. So, you can do this at home or in the gym. You will need two pairs of dumbbells – one heavy and one light as determined by your level of strength.
If all you have is adjustable dumbbells, then you can use them. Just keep in mind that adjusting them will take time which might make this session last longer. If that is an issue, then hit up the local sporting goods store and grab a light pair of weights for you to work with.
If you like music, put some on your headphones or the stereo if you’re at home. Make sure it’s upbeat and will keep you moving when you get tired because you likely will be by the end of this. Water, a towel, and an exercise mat would also be handy to have on standby.
Nutrition and Meal Timing
Don’t do this one on an empty stomach. Doing fasted cardio sessions such as walking or moderate effort bike rides are ok, but this one is a lot more intense than that. You will need calories to fuel the muscles for the work they are about to do. Therefore, have a meal an hour before it’s time to work out.
So, what do you eat? The first choice is a protein source. It can be whole food or a shake, but make sure that you get an adequate amount in your pre-workout meal. Fats such as nuts or peanut butter would work also. Some of you may be on a low carb or keto plan. Carbs aren’t absolutely necessary, but fruit like a banana or a salad would help your cause if your program allows it. Make sure you’re hydrated as well. Drink at least 20 ounces of water before you train.
Related: Pre-Workout Nutrition 101: Fuel Your Training Any Time of Day
Don’t jump straight into this. Go on a quick walk or do some light cardio for around ten minutes to help you warm up. After that, take a few minutes to stretch the entire body out. Start at the feet and work your way up until all the major muscle groups have received attention. Now, you’re ready to get after it.
Related: The Best 15-Minute Warm-Ups
You will train all the major muscle groups over the course of this session. Most of them have two exercises. The first will be a movement that helps you focus on strength. These are the exercises that are listed for ten reps. You’ll use the heavier weights for these and perform ten reps.
Take your time lowering the weight, or doing the negative, and control yourself when you do the lifting portion of the positive part of the rep.
Once you finish the tenth rep, change weights as quickly as you can so you can start the second exercise in the pairing. These are performed for 20 reps. In total, you’ll do around 250 reps from start to finish.
Use the lighter weights for these movements. This is where the conditioning comes into play. Trying to use the same weights for all the exercises actually won’t help you. Focus on getting through all 20 reps as quickly, and safely as possible. For example, when you do the squat jumps. Get back into position after you land, but do it fast so you can perform the next jump.
A Note on Planks
At various points in the program, you’ll see planks listed. This isn’t a typo. The plank is a great exercise that can help you maximize stability and core strength. It can also be used as a way to help you catch your breath. If you have to perform these with your knees on the floor, that is okay. If you can do them in the traditional position, do it.
The final exercise in the workout is the plank. You can do this for 30 seconds, but here is an extra challenge if you feel you can do it. Take it to full failure or for two minutes, whichever comes first. You’ll know you have a great session by the end of that two minutes if you make it. If you don’t, mark the time you did and try to beat it next time. Even if you beat it by one second, that is still improvement and momentum that can carry you to the next workout.
Related: 5 Challenging Plank Variations (& Tips to Help You Master Them)
6-Week Women’s Full Body Strength and Conditioning Workout
Editor's Note: This is a circuit-style workout. You can rest for the prescribed time, or rest as needed.
|Goblet Squat||10||30 sec|
|Squat Jump||20||30 sec|
|Dumbbell Stiff Leg Deadlift||10||30 sec|
|Lunge||10 each||30 sec|
|Standing Calf Raise||20||30 sec|
|Plank||30-60 sec||30 sec|
|Dumbbell Floor Press||10||30 sec|
|Floor Dumbbell Fly||20||30 sec|
|Dumbbell Row||10||30 sec|
|Dumbbell Pullover||20||30 sec|
|Plank||30-60 sec||30 sec|
|Arnold Press||10||30 sec|
|Lateral Raise||20||30 sec|
|Dumbbell Curl||10||30 sec|
|Overhead Tricep Extension||20||30 sec|
|Plank||30-60 sec||30 sec|
|Lying Leg Raise||10||30 sec|
|Side Crunch with Leg Lift||20||30 sec|
|Plank||to failure||30 sec|
Take a Break When Needed
If you’re a beginner or if you’ve never done training in circuits, there’s a good chance you’re going to push yourself to the point that you’re breathing heavily and want to take a quick break. Do it! The goal is for you to train hard, not push yourself beyond that to the point that something goes wrong. If you get to an exercise and doubt you will be able to complete it properly, take a minute to sip water and catch your breath.
Ways to Track Progress
How can you tell that you’re getting better? There are several ways to gauge your progress. Look at your strength first. Are the weights you used in the first workout feeling lighter now? Then, congratulations, you’re getting stronger.
You might find that by the end of the sixth week that you’re capable of doing more. That means your conditioning is getting better as well. That is the goal, right? Of course, there are other metrics such as weight loss, body composition, the ways clothes fit, and so on. Find the ways that will motivate you the most without beating yourself up if the number isn’t what you want it to be. Don’t rely on the scale alone.
What would an example of a light and heavy weight for a person? 5 lb difference? 10? For example someone’s heavy is 15 what would light be, 12, 10, 8, etc?
If 15 is heavy, I would say 10, 8, and 5 or 6. 12 would be ok, but if you can handle that with no issue, then you're probably stronger than 15.
You mentioned having to wait, one light and one heavy. If the circuit is to be done once, when do I switch the weights?
Switch them in between circuits, or make a note and change weights the next time you train.
I am about to start one of your programs and I was wondering if you have an app to track the workouts and progress. I only see the pdf for the exercises. Thanks
Afraid not. Maybe down the road. I'll leave this up for the community in case someone has a suggestion on an app they use that works.
Hi What do I do after the six weeks training...kind regards Samantha
Depends on what your goals are going forward, Samantha. This may help.
I didn’t think I could do it, but I did a 2 minute plank at the end. Have only been doing one minute. When these things sat max, I hate it! But the explanation to try max or two minutes encouraged me to try. Great workout! Thanks!
The work you hate may lead to the results you love. Much respect for pushing yourself, Diana. Please keep us posted on the results. All the best!
Just found this workout and at first I thought it looked too easy but it is definitely the challenge I needed to begin getting in shape again! Wow!
Question: The side crunch with leg lift, is that 10 per side, or 20 per side?
20 per side, Joy. Glad the workout provided the challenge you were looking for. Thank you for reading M&S!
Do you give personalized workout plan?
Afraid not. M&S has a lot of readers and customers, and that would be impossible. I personally don't provide that service either because of my own commitments.
Hi! I atartwe this work out 12/4 (missed 3 days max) but I only had an aching feeling the first 2 days. Day 1 at the gym was a week before the 4th. I'm unsure on what I could be doing wrong. Btw is there a replacement or any tips for the stiff leg lifts?
Don't gauge soreness as a way to determine how effective the workout is. After a while your body will be accustomed to training with intensity. You're not doing anything wrong, Yelissa.
If you check out the Exercises section here on M&S, you can find a hamstrings section where you can find lifts you can do instead of stiff-legged deadlifts.
Love this!!! I used to be a dancer two years ago and completely quit working out after, so I wanted to find something beginner to do. This was perfect! I’m only on week two and I see my arms getting bigger!! I’ve started to modify the workout every day, trying to do more. Started out on the first day barely being able to do a one minute plank and today I reached two minutes! It feels so good being able to beat my times for the planks. My only complaint (constructive) about the workout is the legs part. I am not sure if I am doing them right, but I find that my legs are not feeling the pump. But this might be because of my history in dance, I am not too sure. Not a huge problem though! I will just add to it myself. Thanks so much for the fun workout!!!
It might be that you have the dancing experience, but I will still take that criticism for future reference. Let us know what you add to it so other readers may benefit. Thanks for the feedback, and congrats on the progress, Grace!
Thanks for this. I want to try this out after recovering from Covid. I havent worked out for almost 3 weeks and want to get back to the gym but dont want an overly complex workout. I feel this plan is a great one to do. I would like to ask if I have to stick to the same weights or the same times for the 6 weeks or can I go heavier or increase the timing? Thanks in advance
Hi, Grace. Thanks for reading M&S! Since you're recovering, I would suggest sticking with the weights and time as is for at least the first two weeks. Then, go by feel. When you no longer feel challenged, take baby steps in weight and cut rest as you feel you can. Keep us posted on your progress.
Hello , thanks for the program!
This is my first day , when I finished the workout I wasn’t sweaty nor having high heartbeats .. does that mean i did something or the program doesn’t suit me ?
How long have you been training, Lola? Also, how much rest did you take between sets? If you've been in the gym for a while, then there's a chance this program isn't enough for you.
Hello ! I am Manuel from Spain. As an instructor at gym, I would like to know if I could use some of all those workouts for my training sessions at gym. I mean, to take some ideas and use them for my classes. Thank You!
Hi, Manuel. You can, but we would apppreciate if you tell your class members that they can see the workouts on our website. Thanks for reading M&S!
Thanks for the routine, I’m starting today. Do we need to repeat this circuit and how many times please?
Hi, Sashi. Do the routine once per workout. Please let us know how it goes for you. Thank you so much!
I’ve done my first day, great routine. Am I right in thinking I should do the same workout 3 times a week, so every other day?
Correct, Eleanor. Same workout three times a week, so every other day. Good luck and let us know how it goes for you!
Thank you, and you just do it once through?
Yep, just once per session.
Hello! I want to give this workout a try. My concern is I have planter fasciitis and I can’t do any jumping. Suggestions?
Go with split squats. If that bothers your feet as well, then talk to a doctor or physical therapist.
I had a spinal fusion surgery L5-S1 3 years ago, is that program suitable for me ?
Take a printout of this program or keep it on your phone and talk to your doctor, Shereen. Your doctor can help you find substitutions for exercises you may not be able to do because of your fusion.
This workout is great. I am about half way through the 6week program and I can really feel and see a difference. I would love more programs like this. Thank you for creating such a fantastic workout.
Thank you for the kind words, Annie. I hope you'll share the results at the end of the program, and we'll do our best to keep cranking out more programs for you. Thanks for reading M&S!
Hi just started yesterday, loved the workout. I'm doing the 6 weeks there are only 3 days of workout s do I do the same 3 for the 6 weeks?
Hi, Mercedes. Yes, same workouts for all six weeks. Good luck!
I have a torn meniscus in one knee that a I'll not tolerate full-on goblet squats, squat jumps, or lunges. Can you recommend a variation on these movements or substitute more knee-friendly exercises? Thank You!
In your case, I'm just going to recommend talking to a doctor and finding out what you can do, Marte. I would hate to make suggestions and your injury happen to get worse as a result.
I started the 6 wk women's work out last week. Was wondering if you have a knee-friendly substitute for the lunges and squat jump. I have a torn meniscus that was surgically cleaned up about 4 yrs ago and I'am now able to walk 4 miles, and can climb stairs with no issues. However, the lunges and squat jumps are not going to work for me
Are you training at a gym or at home? If you're training at a gym, then a leg press or hack squat would work. If you have limited access to equipment, then pause squats with no jumping would be the best bet. If none of those options work for you, then talk to your doctor about what you can do.
I'm wanting to start this workout but not sure if the 40 min workout time stated is going through this program once or twice?
Twice, Zeida. Some people may need 45 minutes because of the way their gyms are laid out.
My exercise schedule is 3 days lifting ( back & biceps, legs & shoulder, chest & triceps) 2 days cardio and 2 days off.
So my question is if I can continue to do my schedule for the lifting days and for the cardio day I use your ( 6-Week Women’s Full Body Strength and Conditioning Workout) ? Is it okay?
That is going to be a lot of work, but if you feel you can do this schedule, go for it. Please monitor your recovery, sleep, and keep that diet on point! If at any point you feel run down or are losing strenght, make a change.
Hola! Me gustaría hacer este entrenamiento, se ve bastante desafiante y divertido, y 3 días a la semana es lo que puedo dedicar ahora. El tema es que, como vengo de un programa de 5 días semanales, también muy desafiante, me da miedo que esa reducción de días de entrenamiento, afecte a mis resultados... Como si en lugar de aumentar en el progreso, estuviera reduciéndolo... Es esto así? Puede afectar negativamente en el progreso? Muchas gracias! Saludos desde España! Rebeca.
¡Hola! Simplemente entrena cada dos días. Esto haría que sea tres o cuatro días a la semana, dependiendo de la semana. Todavía deberías ver resultados, y no creo que te afecte negativamente pasar de cinco a tres días. ¡Espero que esto ayude!
Her question: Hello! I would like to do this workout, it looks quite challenging and fun and 3 days a week is what I can dedicate right now. The issue is that, as I come from a program of 5 days a week, also very challenging, I am afraid that this reduction in training days will affect my results... As if instead of increasing progress, I was reducing it. .. This is so? Can it negatively affect progress?
My answer: Hello! Simply train every other day. This would make it either three or four days a week, depending on the week. You should still see results, and I don't feel it would negatively impact you going from five days to three. Hope this helps!