Best Workout Split for Women: Top 3 Routines for Female Lifters

Workout Split for Women: Top 3 Recommendations

Since there are no “sex-specific” exercises, it’s safe to assume resistance training benefits everyone. That being said, there are plenty of ways to organize our workout routine to generate greater results – some better for men, others better for women.   

Exercise programs designed for women tend to be somewhat unique. Though many women share similar exercise goals as their male counterparts, such as building muscle mass, gaining strength, and losing weight, the training style can differ slightly based on both preferences and specific physiological reasons. 

That’s why certain workout splits may be superior to others. 

Read on as we explore three different types of workout splits that help add different amounts of volume, intensity, and rest intervals to a workout. 

What Is a Workout Split?

A "workout split" refers to a style of training that defines how and when you’re exercising every week. Every style of workout split helps plan which muscle groups are being used in a given training session.

Benefits of a Split Workout

Building a weight training program around a specific workout split can benefit you in many ways. 

  1. Workout splits keep you on track to achieving your goals

No matter if your goals are to burn calories to lose weight or elevate intensity to build muscle, a split workout helps you clearly define your daily goals and allows room for growth as the weeks progress.

  1. Workout splits help you stay accountable 

Having a set workout split gives you the opportunity to train more efficiently and intentionally. This can help boost motivation to stay on track every workout and remain accountable to your weightlifting goals. Not to mention, doing the same exercises in the same order with every workout can make progress tracking much easier. 

  1. Workout splits add a layer of safety to your exercise routine 

Another benefit of a split workout is that you’re able to train different muscle groups with high volume and intensity at an appropriate frequency (i.e. with adequate rest and recovery) to minimize the risk of overtraining or injury. As a result, you’ll be guaranteed to train all major muscle groups which can minimize your risk for developing muscle imbalances. 

How to Choose a Workout Split

Now that we have discussed the important details as to why a split workout may be beneficial, it’s time to decide how to choose the right split for your goals. 

Different workout splits are used to prioritize different muscle groups to help promote muscle growth and strength gains. That being said, a workout split for women can depend on individual preferences, goals, and schedule availability. 

Before deciding which workout split is right for you, it’s important to ask yourself the following questions: 

  • What is my availability and what can I consistently accomplish every week? (i.e. 1 hour for 5 days per week, 30 minutes for 3-4 days per week, etc.) 

  • What workout split fits my experience level? (i.e. beginner training schedule should be at a lower frequency and intensity than that of a moderate or advanced weightlifter) 

  • What muscle groups am I looking to develop more? (i.e. full body workout, lower body dominant, upper body dominant, glutes, back, abs, etc.)  

After you have an idea about what your availability, experience, and workout preferences look like, it’s time to decide between our top workout split for women recommendations.

Top 3 Split Workouts for Women

One of the main reasons why both men and women follow different workout splits is that women generally prefer to focus on building their glutes, legs, and back while most men focus more on building their shoulders, chest, and arms. 

Hence, our recommendations for the best workout split for women are catered towards, well, women! In addition, these training programs are designed for all fitness levels. 

1. Upper/Lower Split Workout 

The upper/lower split workout is an excellent workout routine for most moderate to advanced weightlifters. The purpose of this type of workout split is to isolate the upper body muscles from the lower body muscles to optimize strength gains across all the muscles of the body without overtraining. For this reason, upper/lower split workouts give you the opportunity to dial up the intensity. 

Most upper/lower splits involved 2 upper and 2 lower workout days, totalling 4 workouts per week. 

Here is a sample program for this: 

  • Monday: Lower

  • Tuesday: Upper

  • Wednesday: Rest

  • Thursday: Lower

  • Friday: Upper

  • Saturday: Rest

  • Sunday: Rest

One of the top benefits of performing an upper/lower split workout is that it’s both simple and highly effective. With plenty of time to recover after training each major muscle group, this workout program helps stimulate better muscle growth [1]. 

However, a downside to the upper/lower split workout is having to train all the major muscle groups in one workout. For example, on upper body days, you’ll need to train your back, chest, shoulders, biceps, triceps, and core all in one session. This can make for a long and exhaustive workout. 

2. Push/Pull Legs Split Workout 

The push/pull legs split workout is similar to the upper/lower routine but incorporates the muscle groups in a “front to back” fashion. In other words, this workout split for women is designed to emphasize all working muscles in the upper body involved in both pushing (i.e. chest, shoulders, triceps etc.) and pulling (i.e. back, traps, shoulders, biceps) exercises. This is followed by an isolated leg workout. 

Here is a sample push/pull leg split workout: 

  • Monday: Push

  • Tuesday: Rest

  • Wednesday: Pull

  • Thursday: Rest

  • Friday: Legs

  • Saturday: Rest

  • Sunday: Rest

The push/pull legs split is one of the best workout splits that groups functionally related muscles into each workout. This type of split helps you achieve maximum overlap of compound exercises in the same workout (e.g. seated rows, lat pulldowns, bicep curls, and shrugs) to optimize muscle and strength gains. 

Research has found that women are able to recover their strength faster after a difficult workout when compared to men [2]. This means that women can utilize a higher frequency or volume workout split (aka more days or more weight) to build strength. Depending on your fitness level, the upper/lower split can help with this .

3. Full-Body Workout Split

Lastly, we have the full-body split workout. Full-body workouts are a very common style of weightlifting, especially among female lifters. As mentioned earlier, women can recover faster and benefit more from higher-frequency training programs

The full-body workout split can do just that! 

Rather than splitting your program into either an upper or lower-body workout, the full-body split encompasses everything at once and can be adjusted to your schedule every 3 to 5 days per week. 

Here is a sample full-body split workout: 

  • Monday: Full Body

  • Tuesday: Rest

  • Wednesday: Full Body

  • Thursday: Rest

  • Friday: Full Body

  • Saturday: Rest

  • Sunday: Rest

Though the full body split has a beneficial component of high training volume, many lifters risk overdoing their workouts which can lead to overtraining and injury. For this reason, it’s important to track each exercise moving from compound to isolated.  

Many women prefer the full-body split as a way to burn calories, gain lean muscle, and lose excess fat. 

Since there is the need to train more muscle groups in one session, a great way to save time without compromising on your goals is by utilizing a range of metabolic exercises. A metabolic workout includes various compound movements in a short, intense period of time. High-intensity interval training (HITT) is a form of metabolic conditioning [3].

Key Takeaways

Workout splits are an ideal way to stay focused, accountable, and intentional during your weightlifting journey. For women, workout splits can be used to target specific muscles to help build lean tissue and strength. 

We recommended the upper/lower, push/pull legs, or full-body workout splits for women because they each offer a different approach to training with an increased focus on frequency, volume, and rest.

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