This circuit-style workout will help you torch calories and feel stronger, in a short amount of time. Try this 3-day full body workout for efficient lean muscle gains!
Workout Summary
  • Main Goal
    Increase Strength
  • Workout Type
    Full Body
  • Training Level
    Beginner
  • Program Duration6 weeks
  • Days Per Week
    3
  • Time Per Workout40 minutes
  • Equipment Required
    Bodyweight, Dumbbells
  • Target Gender Female
  • Workout PDF Download Workout

Workout Description

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.

Lean woman wearing a blue tank top preparing her pre-workout nutrition shake and meal

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

Warming Up

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

Strong woman in the gym stretching lower body before workout

The Program

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.

Exercise Reps Rest
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
Crunches 20 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.

Curvy african american woman working out outside with dumbbells

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.

69 Comments
Rashmi
Posted on: Sat, 01/27/2024 - 10:59

It says its circuit training but is not listing how many sets per rep? Are we doing 3 sets each training day. Or just 1 set following the entire plan?

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Roger
Posted on: Sun, 01/28/2024 - 12:09

1 set of each exercise on the list.

Sandra
Posted on: Sat, 03/02/2024 - 19:12

Thank you for clarifying. First time on your site. It is March 2nd. Going to maintain fidelity with your reommended full body workout and allow time for recovery in between on my off days.

Eileen
Posted on: Tue, 01/16/2024 - 17:45

Hi, I am 76 and just recovering from Covid. When I was younger I was a regular at the gym. Mostly treadmill, rowing machine and bike, interchanging from leg machines to upper body machines. Would you have a program that would suit me. Aiming at three times a week including swimming.
Thanks

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Roger
Posted on: Sun, 01/28/2024 - 12:08

Hello, Eileen. I believe we would have something for you here. Check this link out and see if you can find one you're comfortable with.

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/how-to-choose-your-next-train...

Jamie
Posted on: Mon, 09/25/2023 - 20:37

Hi!

Is this good for fat loss?

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Roger
Posted on: Sat, 09/30/2023 - 21:29

With a sound nutrition plan, cardio, and proper recovery, it can be, Jamie. I would suggest starting out with it and doing 20-30 minutes of Zone 2 cardio post-workout. If you try it, let me know how it goes. Thank you for reading M&S!

Jo
Posted on: Fri, 09/15/2023 - 19:46

Hi, I'm wondering if anyone can give me advice please. I’ve recently completed a 12 week “program” with the intention of losing fat. This was a program i made up using apple fitness strength workouts. My routine included full body, upper body, rest day, cardio, lower body, full body, rest day in that order. These were all 45-50 minute workouts.

I saw some results towards the end but nothing major, then had a week off work and the 12 weeks ended so i stopped the program (did other exercise) and seemed to regain the couple of KGs i lost. My goal is to gain some muscle but from what I understand you should lose the fat first? I feel a bit like I’ve been going in circles in a way, of losing a small amount then regaining fat. (For ages) I’m unsure if I'm going about something wrong. I’m wondering if i should try this or should i just pick a muscle building program instead? Thing is i don't want to gain fat and not fit into my current clothes.

I’m F 5’6. I have some equipment at home 2kg-10kg dumbbells and a decent exercise bike, floor space a mat and a pull up bar I've not used yet.

Many thanks

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Roger
Posted on: Mon, 09/25/2023 - 20:47

Hi, Jo. If you feel like you still have fat to lose, then I suggest sticking to fat loss nutrition and training programs until you reach your goal. The good news is the muscle you have will show more since you will be leaner. Give this a run if you can, or try one of our dumbbell programs, and you should see some improvement within a few weeks.

Darlene
Posted on: Tue, 08/08/2023 - 11:41

Hi; I just started doing this and am committed to sticking with the 3x / week. I am wondering how to fit this in with other classes at the gym; I enjoy a group HIIT class on Mondays and sometimes Wednesdays if I can make it. I don't want to overdo it and end up injuring myself. Thank you.

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Roger
Posted on: Tue, 08/22/2023 - 20:50

You can do the HIIT class on Mondays and be fine, Darlene. If at any point, you do feel odd or like something is off, then back off the HIIT class. Thanks for reading M&S!

Suzanne
Posted on: Sun, 07/23/2023 - 18:15

What can be substituted for lunges? My knees cannot take those. Thank you.

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Roger
Posted on: Mon, 07/31/2023 - 08:45

I suggest talking to your doctor about the knee issues so you know exactly what is wrong. I would hate to make a recommendation and then you suffer a worse injury as a result.

Salma
Posted on: Fri, 07/07/2023 - 06:27

Is it healthy to do full body exercises if this is my first time going to the gym? I will follow this exercise for my first time, if it is good for me please tell me.

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Roger
Posted on: Fri, 07/21/2023 - 20:10

As long as you follow the exercise form properly, you will be fine. I think this is a good choice for beginners as long as they take their time and not push themselves too hard.

Salma
Posted on: Fri, 07/07/2023 - 06:02

Is this schedule to exercise a day? Is it repeated three times a week?

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Roger
Posted on: Fri, 07/21/2023 - 20:10

Yes, follow the same program three times a week.

Johanne Clark
Posted on: Mon, 06/26/2023 - 06:53

How many rounds do you do of this circuit in one session please?

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Roger
Posted on: Mon, 06/26/2023 - 11:05

Start by doing just one per session. If you feel you can handle a second round, then go for it, but definitely no more than two!

Stephanie
Posted on: Wed, 06/21/2023 - 13:42

Can you do these workouts 4-5 times a week? Or should it strictly be done every other day?

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Roger
Posted on: Thu, 06/22/2023 - 06:56

You can do them 4-5 times a week if that is better for you, Stephanie. Thanks for reading M&S!

Kristen
Posted on: Wed, 04/26/2023 - 23:17

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?
Thanks!!

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Roger
Posted on: Wed, 05/03/2023 - 16:28

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.

Dolce
Posted on: Thu, 04/06/2023 - 10:30

You mentioned having to wait, one light and one heavy. If the circuit is to be done once, when do I switch the weights?

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Roger
Posted on: Sun, 04/23/2023 - 12:28

Switch them in between circuits, or make a note and change weights the next time you train.

Emma
Posted on: Thu, 04/06/2023 - 06:41

Hello,

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

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Roger
Posted on: Sat, 04/22/2023 - 13:52

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.

samantha balchand
Posted on: Mon, 03/06/2023 - 04:14

Hi What do I do after the six weeks training...kind regards Samantha

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Roger
Posted on: Mon, 03/20/2023 - 10:10

Depends on what your goals are going forward, Samantha. This may help.

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/how-to-choose-your-next-train...

Diana
Posted on: Mon, 01/23/2023 - 11:06

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!

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Roger
Posted on: Mon, 01/23/2023 - 13:06

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!

Roger

Joy H
Posted on: Thu, 01/05/2023 - 18:13

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?

Thanks

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Roger
Posted on: Tue, 01/17/2023 - 13:48

20 per side, Joy. Glad the workout provided the challenge you were looking for. Thank you for reading M&S!

Garima Agrawal
Posted on: Thu, 01/19/2023 - 21:27

Do you give personalized workout plan?

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Roger
Posted on: Fri, 01/20/2023 - 08:39

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.

Yelissa
Posted on: Tue, 12/27/2022 - 18:49

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?

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Roger
Posted on: Sat, 12/31/2022 - 18:54

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.

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/exercises/hamstrings

Grace
Posted on: Tue, 12/20/2022 - 14:55

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!!!

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Roger
Posted on: Tue, 12/27/2022 - 08:48

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!

Grace
Posted on: Tue, 12/20/2022 - 06:28

Hi Roger,

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

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Roger
Posted on: Tue, 12/27/2022 - 08:45

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.

Lola
Posted on: Mon, 12/19/2022 - 11:20

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 ?

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Roger
Posted on: Tue, 12/27/2022 - 08:38

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.

Manuel
Posted on: Tue, 12/13/2022 - 23:17

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!

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Roger
Posted on: Thu, 12/22/2022 - 06:13

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!

Sashi
Posted on: Thu, 11/17/2022 - 02:14

Thanks for the routine, I’m starting today. Do we need to repeat this circuit and how many times please?

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Roger
Posted on: Tue, 11/22/2022 - 09:00

Hi, Sashi. Do the routine once per workout. Please let us know how it goes for you. Thank you so much!

Eleanor
Posted on: Sat, 11/05/2022 - 06:45

Hi,

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?

Many thanks,

Eleanor

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Roger
Posted on: Thu, 11/10/2022 - 06:49

Correct, Eleanor. Same workout three times a week, so every other day. Good luck and let us know how it goes for you!

Eleanor
Posted on: Mon, 11/21/2022 - 13:27

Thank you, and you just do it once through?

Many thanks,

Eleanor