Whole Body Conditioning Workout For Women

Barbara Greene's 7 day weight training and cardio workout is specifically designed for women who want to increase their fitness and muscle tone.

Workout Summary

Build Muscle
Full Body
Barbell, Bodyweight, Dumbbells, Exercise Ball, Machines
Male & Female

Workout Description

How it works:

This is a 7-day routine, for general fitness, which is suitable for any female that has never lifted a weight before; it is in fact the routine that I began with, having never lifted a weight. It is also very practical for those not wishing to go to a gym, because all the exercises can be performed at home, with a few pieces of equipment; all of the equipment will be based around your own level of strength.

The plan:

  • Day 1: Weight Routine A
  • Day 2: Cardio 45 minutes
  • Day 3: Weight Routine B
  • Day 4: Cardio 45 minutes
  • Day 5: Weight Routine C
  • Day 6: Cardio 45 minutes
  • Day 7: A 60 minute walk/cycle ride (at a good pace, based on your current fitness level)

The routine has been set out as Day1 through to Day 7, because it is important to realise that you can start the plan on the best day to suit your own schedule; for some, Saturday is the best day for day 7, for others it will be Sunday or maybe even Thursday. Because Day 7 is the only session that you need to do outdoors, even though you can also do this indoors as well, try to place day 7 at the most convenient time in your weekly schedule for you to be outdoors; so, if you place Day 7 on a Wednesday, then Day 1 will be a Thursday because it is the day that immediately follows it and because this is a 7-Day routine.

The reason it is a 7-Day routine is because it is not intense as such, and familiarity of doing exercise on a daily basis is a good idea, even though Day 7 is a gentle session and can be considered as just a relaxing day but with some exercise scheduled in to it. The plan is flexible, in that if you should miss a day, just pass over it and continue the normal cycle as you have it planned; this is not a problem due to the fact that each weight session covers the entire body, so if you end up missing a session, you have no need to overly concern yourself or berate yourself.

It is recommended that you plan complete breaks of about a week in duration; plan these to coincide with celebrations, holidays and similar days, but try not to take more than 5 weeks per year in total. The way to remain fit is to adhere to a program and if too many rest weeks occur this can prove detrimental; but 5 are fine, which works out to taking a break every 8-10 weeks. You could cycle the routine for 8 weeks and then take the rest week, or you could cycle it for 12 weeks and then break for one week for a birthday and the a week or two later for another important date in your life; the choice is yours. This is also an integral part, since you have to be able to learn to make decisions early on because this will put you in control of your fitness and that way you will stick with the program.


  • An adjustable set of dumbbells (or a set of 2.5kg/3kg/4kg/5kg weights; base the selection on your strength levels)
  • An exercise step (optional*) [can also double up for use in dumbbell bench press etc]
  • An exercise bike (optional*)
  • A stability ball [use this for exercises that require a flat bench, dumbbell bench press etc]

*Basically, one piece of equipment for aerobic activity, so either of these two will work, as will an ordinary bike if you have the opportunity to exercise outdoors.

Notes: Where it says 3 sets and 20 reps; all this means is do 20 reps, short pause, do another 20 reps, short pause, do the last 20 reps. If you are unable to complete the reps required, this is not a problem; there are several ways around this: choose a lighter weight; do as many as you can in that session and build up over time to get to the number of reps stated; take very brief pauses of 5 seconds and continue the reps until you have done as many as you can or reached the number required.

Lying triceps extensions, pullovers and other suitable exercises can be done with either one weight held between two hands or with one weight in each hand; this is a way in which to vary the weight load, in a slightly different manner.

You will need to use lighter weights for some muscle groups, not the same weight for all muscle groups; the stronger the muscle the higher the weight load a person should use.

Workout A
Workout A
Exercise Sets Reps
Dumbbell Squat 3 20
Dumbbell Bench Press 3 20
Dumbbell Pullover 3 20
Dumbbell Lateral Raise 3 15
Dumbbell Hammer Curl 3 20
Two Arm Dumbbell Overhead Tricep Extension 3 20
Standing Calf Raise 2 30
Reverse Hyperextension 3 20
Ab Crunches 3 20
Workout B
Workout B
Exercise Sets Reps
Flat Bench Dumbbell Flye 3 20
One Arm Dumbbell Row 3 20
Dumbbell Shoulder Press 3 20
Dumbbell Bicep Curl 3 20
Tricep Kickback 3 15
Lying Adduction (dumbbells/bands*) 3 20
Lying Abduction (dumbbells/bands*) 3 20
Seated Calf Raise** 2 30
Reverse/Lower Abs Crunch 3 20

*If bands are available for performing the leg abduction and adduction exercises, then these two exercises can be done whilst standing upright and attaching the band around a sturdy object such as a stair railing. Dumbbells can be balanced across the trainers that are being worn, although this does require some balancing skills when lowering and raising the leg, but lightweights should be started with; a 5kg weight is a challenge during leg adduction, so anything below that is not considered bad in any way. Ankle weights are preferable, but not necessary.

**These have been placed in for those wishing to do some seated calf raises, if they can find weights that will challenge the calf; however, doing standing calf raises in each of the 3 sessions is fine, and is how the routine was performed initially.

Workout C
Workout C
Exercise Sets Reps
Sissy Squat 3 20
Lying Leg Curl* 1 60
Standing Calf Raise 2 30
Chest Dip** 2 15
Push Up** 2 15
Dumbbell Pullover 3 20
Dumbbell Reverse Flye 3 15
Bicep Concentration Curl 3 20
Lying Two Arm Dumbbell Tricep Extension 3 20
Obliques Curl 3 20

*Lying leg curl is done with a weight held between the feet; this is one set of 60 reps, because a low weight will not really tax the legs, however, done for 60 reps straight, you will feel it. Start low with the weight at 3kg, when it gets easy enough to do the 60 reps with no problems, move up to 4kg, and then to 5kg. If you cannot complete the 60 reps in one set, then pause a short time to get your breat and start from where you left off until you have completed as many as you feel you can, or have reached the goal of 60 reps.

**Chest dips can be done wherever you can find a suitable place, the corner of two kitchen units, for example. Half push-ups can be done until strength increases enough to complete full push-ups. With these 2 exercises, you may also omit one and just do 3 sets of 20 reps of the other one; so should you choose not to do chest dips, just do 3 sets of 20 reps of the push-ups.

Cardio/Aerobic activity:

If using an aerobic step, set it at a height which is comfortable for you. Start on the lowest setting if you are completely new to exercise; if you are slightly fitter, start on the medium height setting; if you feel you are able to handle it, use the step set at its highest level.

There is no need for fancy stepping, this will get you injured, and a twisted ankle will halt your gains. So, the plan is:

(Always count the lead leg)

  • Step up with the right leg
  • Step up with the left leg
  • Step down with the right leg
  • Step down with the left leg
  • Tap ground with left foot (this is the changeover after reaching 10 with the right leg as the leading leg)
  • Step up with left leg
  • Step up with right leg
  • Step down with left leg
  • Step down with right leg
  • Tap ground with right foot (this is the changeover after reaching 10 with the left leg as the leading leg)

Do as much as you are able, on the very first occasion, and then once you have a base starting point add 5 minutes per week to the session until you reach 45-minutes. Increase the tempo up and down as you wish, stepping along to your favorite beat/music.

Follow the exact same plan of building up your endurance/fitness levels, if using a bike/exercise bike. This is the same process you will use for gaining strength where the weight sessions are concerned; do as much as you can and gradually build it up week by week.

One of the most important things to do is to keep a journal, in this way you can see the improvements yourself. Above all, remember to have fun! Once you feel that you have outgrown this plan, move onto another routine; you will know when that time is.

About The Author
Barbara Greene became interested in weight-training in 2003 after reading the book Sculpting Her Body Perfect.

385 Comments+ Post Comment

No Profile Pic
Posted Tue, 11/17/2015 - 09:17
Rach Nic Mass

I kind of scoffed at the workout when I saw 20 reps... Everything I read is so dismissive of high reps/low weights for women, suggesting we don't go heavy enough. Well... I typically stay within a 6-10 rep range, but was same day sore after Weight Routine A. I'm excited for more.

No Profile Pic
Posted Thu, 09/25/2014 - 16:11

Hello! I have read that you should switch up routines every other month for optimal results - how long will this routine be good for for my muscles? Also, do you have another routine i should alternate in every other month?

No Profile Pic
Posted Mon, 08/18/2014 - 20:50

Hello, I'm 15 yrs. old and I play soccer almost everyday of the week. I just started wanting to tone my body and lose all the fat weight on me, will this workout routine have good and fast results? Also do you know of any leg workouts that will help make my legs look longer and skinnier, rather than bulky and strong? I'm really trying to only focus on my leg and arm workouts because I want to lose the unnecessary fat weight and make my body look toned and fit! Thanks!

No Profile Pic
Posted Sat, 07/19/2014 - 07:20

Hi Barbara, I am so excited to start this routine! I have arthritis in my knees so I'm
worried about thr dumbbell squats. Is there an alternative that will work the same muscles?

No Profile Pic
Posted Wed, 07/09/2014 - 19:45

hi, im Mariana

i just subscribed in the gym and i was looking for the best routine.I'm 27 years old and my wight is 113 lbs. My goals are loose 4 pounds and tone my body, specifically abs and legs, do u think this routine is gonna work? and what kind of diet or food should i eat?

No Profile Pic
Posted Fri, 04/18/2014 - 11:53

I am in Post C-Section of 2 years . I lost 30 kgs after my baby delivery . So , my arms get flabby somwhat . May I lift 2 + 2 kgs of dumbells in both the hands just to tighten my arm muscles .
Important Note :- I am in post C-Section of 2 years . So that , there will be no problem to do arm workouts with the dumbbells , yeh ?

No Profile Pic
Posted Sun, 04/06/2014 - 12:45

I have started the plan and just completed one week. Feels great and sore too. I'm trying to lose weight and build lean muscle tone. Can you please let me know if it's recommended to take protein shake from GNC for women. I'm a vegetarian and I'm having smaller portion sized food since I'm trying to lose weight as well. So should I take the protein shake too. Let me know

Thank you

No Profile Pic
Posted Sat, 03/01/2014 - 06:58

I'm back in the gym after 4 kids and 90 pounds weight gain (Eeek!). This workout is perfect for me to use as I get back to work on taking care of ME! Thank you.

No Profile Pic
Posted Fri, 02/07/2014 - 12:58

Hi, I have been following the body rx plan for about 9 weeks, I have now lost any weight and only see slight differences in toning, I am having a real problem with this, my stomach stays bloated all the time, and i am very dissatisfied, do you feel I will see more results with your program, I just fished my first week.

No Profile Pic
Posted Thu, 01/16/2014 - 17:54

when I do cardio can I do tredmill? I also herd you lose more fat if you keep your heart rate between 60 and 80 %? Is this true if not what % should I keep my heart rate at during cardio?

No Profile Pic
Posted Fri, 01/03/2014 - 18:00

I'm excited to start this! It's a realistic flexibile workout plan! Thanks alot

No Profile Pic
Posted Wed, 12/18/2013 - 22:38


I am 5'10'' and 130lbs. I want to start exercising and weight lifting, but I am pretty happy with my weight and I don't really want to lose any fat anywhere, especially in my chest and butt areas. Do you have any tips or exercises so I can tone, but not actually lose weight? Can you suggest an amount of calories to eat everyday so I don't lose weight.


No Profile Pic
Posted Mon, 12/02/2013 - 09:20

I am just coming off of of a marathon training program. I am looking for something to improve and increase my overall lean muscle strength as I begin to prep for my next marathon. Is this sort of workout appropriate? My overarching goals are to maintain and increase overall body strength and ultimately increase my running speed. Any tips or pointers? Thanks.

No Profile Pic
Posted Fri, 11/08/2013 - 12:02
Lee-Anne Stables

Hi, After years of going to the gym & walking I had to give up due to being diagnosed with a heart condition 2 years ago. However my fiance bought a multi-gym and dumbells and 3 weeks ago I started strength training with him and am already noticing the difference in my posture, energy and overall health. Looking online for more information and came across your website. Will give your routines a go. Let you all know how it goes. But so far I highly recommend it and wish i had done this years ago. Happy workout everyone.

No Profile Pic
Posted Tue, 10/22/2013 - 20:57

Hey I'm 15 I gained a lot of weight during summer. ): I want to start getting fit. I want to loose weight from my belly (get a flat belly) and lift my butt. What can I do please help? Also what should I eat? -Anhel

No Profile Pic
Posted Thu, 10/17/2013 - 17:14

I just started this routine this week and I am really liking it so far but I have a quick question. One of the personal trainers at my gym told me that it is not good to do the same workouts because eventually your body gets used to it and you stop getting stronger. Is this true for this workout? If so, how long will it be good for? Or should I just up the weight every week?

No Profile Pic
Posted Fri, 10/04/2013 - 06:58


Just wondering if its okay to do more cardio after the weight sessions? For example just a brisk 30 minute walk or is that overdoing it?


No Profile Pic
Posted Fri, 09/20/2013 - 18:37

Hi Barbara,

I have been doing this workout for 2 weeks and I can already see the results. However, I am concerned about my diet. I am quite thin, but I am about 9 pounds bigger my ideal weight. I want to be toned and gain muscle but I also want to lose weight. I have upped my protein intake to every meal, but I am prone to snacking and in the past week, not wanting to go my daily calorie intake (1200 calories), I have noticed that I am fatigued during the workout and have been feeling sick afterwards. I am clearly not eating enough of the right things before the gym. Any suggestions as to how I may balance a healthy diet with this workout? Perhaps increasing carbs?
Many thanks

No Profile Pic
Posted Wed, 09/11/2013 - 12:10

I just started back working out a few weeks ago. I love this workout. But I am wondering if it will be good for weight loss as well as strength training? Thank you!

No Profile Pic
Posted Sun, 09/01/2013 - 08:43
Irene G.

Love this workout. I am always looking forward to working out. I have been doing this for 3 months with minimum cardio because i love running outdoors but it is extremly hot. I have lost inches and look and feel great.

No Profile Pic
Posted Tue, 08/13/2013 - 10:52
Carole Kveen

Love the looks of the work out and want to try it. Would be nice if there was a print friendly version though. I printed it off to take to gym and it was too many pages with the commercials and pics included.

No Profile Pic
Posted Mon, 08/12/2013 - 22:46

I'm so glad I found this workout plan. I used to be a frequent gym goer and runner, but have been afraid to exercise recently because of a string of injuries. This plan has gotten me back into the gym! Because of some leg injuries, I replace the aerobic step/bike with swimming.

No Profile Pic
Posted Tue, 08/06/2013 - 00:08

I'm 15 and weigh 63kg I want to get toned and loose a bit of weight. Would this routine be good for me ?

No Profile Pic
Posted Sun, 06/30/2013 - 01:26

Is it ok to do extra cardio? I normally do cardio 5 days per week. Can I continue?

No Profile Pic
Posted Fri, 06/28/2013 - 00:59

I'm 5'2 and weigh 170lbs i know that is overweight but I actually walk alot and am starting to go to the gym. Would this be a good starting workout for me? My main goal is to shed fat and tone, though I dont want to be big because I am kind of fat. Would doing this make me lose fat and become bulky looking?

mnsjason's picture
Posted Fri, 06/28/2013 - 12:06

This would be a great place to start! Fat-loss will be dependent on your diet though. You'll want to be eating in a caloric deficit, and a workout like this will help you retain as much muscle as possible giving you the look you're after. Here's a great Fat-Loss guide: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/expert-guides/fat-loss.

No Profile Pic
Posted Mon, 06/24/2013 - 02:10

What type of diet is suitable for this workout routine?

mnsjason's picture
Posted Wed, 06/26/2013 - 17:17

That really depends on what your goals are. If you're looking to lose unwanted weight, you would need to consume less than you burn. It's not completely necessary to subscribe to restrictive diets (no/low carbs, and so forth), though many find success that way. Here's a really handy tool to help you narrow down what you would want to shoot for: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/tools/bmr-calculator

Make sure to include this routine in your activity level. The number generated would be your maintenance level, or what you would want to consume to stay at the weight you currently are. There is some give an take with that number, but you'll typically want to come 350-450 calories under that number if weight loss is your goal.

No Profile Pic
Posted Fri, 06/21/2013 - 11:45
clark dominic

Why are your women recommended to take several reps? My trainee is now used to train with lower but heavier reps... Women need to be stronger!

No Profile Pic
Posted Tue, 06/18/2013 - 20:24
clark dominic

tremendous! why should there be 15-30 reps?! women can train as strong as men. They never have a great tendency to bulk...

No Profile Pic
Posted Fri, 06/14/2013 - 13:03

Hi i really liked the workout above. but im 18 and very skinny and i really want to increase volume and not loose any weight at the same time getting really toned and muscular especially my legs and thighs. im tired of the chicken legs. do u have any workout recommendations ? if u could reply as quickly as possible i would REAAAALLLLy appreciate it ! thank alooooot!

No Profile Pic
Posted Wed, 05/29/2013 - 10:26

This workout does not seem to focus on legs or abs. Legs and abs are body parts I want to look good too!

No Profile Pic
Posted Sat, 05/25/2013 - 01:25
Genevieve Cruz


In Workout A, the reverse hypertension, I'm just wondering if you can give me any substitution for that?

Thank you.

No Profile Pic
Posted Fri, 05/10/2013 - 13:59
The Cat's Meow

Hi Barbara,

I'm taking a break from working out with a personal trainer and was feeling a bit overwhelmed at the idea of having to create a routine that would cover total body fitness without spending oodles of time working out. SO PLEASED to have found your 7-day routine online! Thank you so much for investing the time from your own experience to put this together for others to benefit from. Thank you for helping me not to have to recreate the wheel by developing such a program for myself. I really like the idea of learning and practicing three separate routines that hopefully will become more automatic with each session. I am grateful!

~ Kitty ~

No Profile Pic
Posted Fri, 05/10/2013 - 10:24

im 18 and very skinnny
i need a workout plan to tone my body and increase volume
is this workout good for me?
i want to be supper toned in my legs and have bigger thighs
any workout recommendations

No Profile Pic
Posted Wed, 04/17/2013 - 21:55


I am doing the 100/100 days challenge and am really excited to make this plan a part of my work out schedule. I was just wondering with regards to the cardio; instead of using the step, would running and spinning be just as beneficial for my fitness improvements? Also, I am trying to improve my push- ups skills; do you have any advice on getting better at this surprisingly difficult exercise?

Thank you so much!


No Profile Pic
Posted Sun, 04/14/2013 - 15:11

Does it work?

No Profile Pic
Posted Sat, 04/13/2013 - 08:19

I absolutely love this plan. I've been using it for quite some time now (I'd say maybe about 7 months?) and have been getting fantastic results (I haven't followed it to a tee - I modified it a bit, implementing other exercises in exchange for some of them, adding some on..etc). I'm sad to have to switch it up!

I would highly recommend this workout to anyone who wants to build more muscle and to become more toned in a straight-forward, non-complicated way. I also love how the majority of these exercises use free weights rather than relying on machines!

No Profile Pic
Posted Fri, 04/05/2013 - 12:44

Hi there,

I am not necessarily trying to weight but more looking to tone up my body and lose a little excess fat here and there, especially around my mid-section and "love-handle" area, as well as my upper thighs. Will this routine help to slim those areas down and give me a more balanced, toned body? Thanks!

No Profile Pic
Posted Mon, 03/18/2013 - 14:00
Monica Flores

I am 5'3 and weigh 119lbs. I want to gain more muscle and cut up. Would this routine work for me?

Joey's picture
Posted Mon, 03/18/2013 - 15:53

Certainly, but gaining muscle will be largely dependent on your diet. Here is a guide you mind find very helpful. https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/muscle-building-weight-gain-w...

No Profile Pic
Posted Sat, 03/16/2013 - 09:49

I have been working out for about a month now, doing my own weights an cardio. I am looking into increases my muscle an reduce fat so I was looking for something new to help both departments. Is this wrokout better for beginners or can I use it too? Also suggestion on what protein or diet habits I should use with these circuit work?

No Profile Pic
Posted Thu, 03/14/2013 - 06:01

I'm just wondering if I follow this religiously and maintain a strict diet, how fast could I see a transformation? I'm 5'9 150 lbs I used to work out all the time and then stopped. I need to look fabulous in a months time. Is it possible or just a dream that won't happen?

No Profile Pic
Posted Thu, 03/07/2013 - 04:02

Hi Barbara,

I started this workout on Monday and by Tuesday I was in pain! Its Thursday now and it still hurts even going down the stairs! Am I supposed to work through the pain or wait till it subsides to carry on?

I'm 5ft 5 and weigh around 9st 10lbs - I'm desperate to lose 10lbs and tone up all over. I really enjoyed Workout A but am worried that I have not been able to do Tuesdays cardio or Wednesdays Workout B.

Please help!

Many thanks,


No Profile Pic
Posted Wed, 03/06/2013 - 07:14
Sarah Schick

Hi there! I did the first workout on monday and felt great, however the second workout is purely for arms (aside for the calf raises) is this workout mainly for arm toning? There just seems to be more focus on the arms :)

No Profile Pic
Posted Thu, 02/21/2013 - 13:39
Lisa C

I am 5 foot 1 and 120lbs. I am in decent shape and just want to tone up a bit. Could I get away with doing the cardio following the workout instead of on different days?

Joey's picture
Posted Thu, 02/21/2013 - 16:48

That sounds good. The days of rest should do you well.

No Profile Pic
Posted Sun, 02/17/2013 - 18:44

Hi, I have been consistently working out now since August. I do a ton of cardio with some weight training mixed in. I still have yet to find the perfect mix and this workout seems to be it. I want to lose weight and build muscle. I noticed that the main goal for this workout is to build muscle. Will I lose weight also?

mnsjason's picture
Posted Wed, 02/20/2013 - 17:30

It really depends on your diet, and this is true for ANY routine. You may also not lose any weight at all, but lower your body fat percentage, meaning you've added muscle mass and lost fat in equal amounts (not likely, but just as an example). Check out this tool to give you a better idea of how many calories you'll want to shoot for: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/tools/bmr-calculator

No Profile Pic
Posted Thu, 02/14/2013 - 19:46

Hi I'm new to this. I have been following this program for 3 weeks now and have lost about 3 pounds and two inches total. I also see a difference in my arms. I weigh 200 as of now, but want to lose 50 pounds. Should I be doing this much strength if I want to lose weight/fat? Also I am confused on how many calories I should eat. Btw I am doing the 4 days of cardio too. Thanks!