Strength Building Workouts for Women

By Dr. Caleb Mitchell, DC

I often have female patients who want to build strength but are afraid of “bulking up.” There are so many great strength building workouts for women that help build lean muscle to keep them strong, toned and prevent mobility issues as they age.

How to Get Started with Weight Training

If you are new to training, you may want to hire a personal trainer to show you the ropes. Think about it as an investment in your health. Also be prepared to invest some time before you begin seeing significant results with weight loss and strength training. Consistency is the key.

Benefits of Strength Training

There are lots of benefits to women incorporating strength training into their workout and not just focusing on weight loss or fat burning. In addition to building muscle. strength building workouts for women have also been shown to:

  • Reduce stress
  • Decrease headaches and migraines
  • Create stronger bones (especially important as women get into their 40s and beyond)
  • Decrease cancer risks
  • Promote healthier pregnancies and easier birth

Set by Set Strength Training Programs for Women

Many women in the gym have similar goals for a few body parts. These include increasing muscle mass in the glutes, tightening the inner thighs, eliminating saddlebags and hip dips, tightening the triceps, and building a tight core.

When it comes to hitting specific areas, it’s a lot easier to choose where you want to build muscle fibers than where you want to lose fat. For example, everyone wants to lose belly fat. But unfortunately, your body burns fat in the reverse order that it gains fat.

This is because our bodies store fat easier in some places than others. This is based on genetics and your body type. Remember that you ultimately just need to concentrate on fat loss everywhere. One of my favorite strength building workouts for women that I often recommend is from Set for Set. It provides exercises to try and sculpt these areas of a woman’s body, so that as you lose weight, your muscle definition can shine through.

These workouts focus on compound movements instead of specific muscle groups, and it has active rest days built in. The routine also gives a lot of variety and flexibility. It provides structured workouts, if that’s what you like, cardio routines, and even classes that can be substituted if desired.

Workout plan courtesy of Set for Set


Back Squat: 4X8 @ 2:00 Rest
Seated Dumbbell Overhead Press: 3X8 @ 2:00 Rest
Dumbbell Row: 3X8/Arm @ 1:30/Arm Rest
Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift: 3X10-12 @ 1:30 Rest
Leg Abductions: 3X12-15 @ 1:00 Rest
After this strength training routine, perform the following circuit three times.


Rope Crunch X 10
Rope Tricep Pushdown X 10
Rope Palloff Press X 10
Ropee Front Pulldown X 10
Body Squats X 10


Either at home or the gym
45-60 minutes of steady-state cardio
Low heart rate (60-70%)
Home: Brisk walking or light cycling (or something similar)
Gym: Incline treadmill or light spin (or something similar)
If you have time, add in a low-intensity mobility class such as yoga, barre, or pilates (i.e. 60-minute brisk walk in the AM followed by barre in the evening.)


This class should include a mixture of weights and cardio. If you don’t enjoy group classes, swap this out with a LISS session followed by a brief weight circuit or a HIIT routine.

Les Mills
Orange Theory
Similar classes at your gym


Bench Press: 4X6 @ 2:00 Rest
Barbell Hip Thrust: 4X8 @ 2:00 Rest
Seated Back Row: 3X10-12 @ 1:30 Rest
Leg Press: 5X10-15 @ 1:30 Rest
After these strength training exercises, perform the following circuit three times.


Walking Lunges X 10-20
Flutter Kicks X 50
Dumbbell Overhead Triceps Extension X 10
Step-Ups X20
Dumbbell Curl X10


Total Rest
Mobility class, such as yoga, barre, Pilates


Trap Bar Deadlift: 3X6 @ 2:00 Rest
Incline Dumbbell Bench Press: 3X8 @ 2:00 Rest
Plie Squats: 3X10-12 @ 1:30 Rest
Lat Pull-Down: 3X10-12 @ 1:30 Rest
Rope Lateral Raises: 2X12-15/Arm, @ 1:30 Rest
After these strength training exercises, perform the following circuit three times.


Push-Ups X 10
Rope Face Pull X 10
Reverse Lunges X 10-20
Rope High Row X 10
Hollow Rocks for 30 seconds


This day will consist of more intense forms of cardio. Here’s a routine to try:

20 minutes of stationary cycling
Sled push 10-minute intervals:30/:30
Sled pull 10-minute intervals:30/:30
Farmer Carries: 5X10
Stair Climber: 5 minutes (climb as many flights as possible)


An intense cardio class, such as spinning
HIIT workout

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