Get Fit Fast: 4 Gym Workout Routines for Women

by P S | Reviewed by Advisory Board

gym workout routines for women

Get Fit Fast: 4 Gym Workout Routines for Women

Hitting the gym with a structured workout plan means more accountability and a built-in system for tracking your progress. These four gym workout routines for women can be adapted to all fitness levels and abilities. That means no more turning up to the gym and not knowing what to do, or sweating for hours on the treadmill, then wondering why you’re not seeing results.

If you’re ready to zero in on your fitness goals, let’s look at how to create your ideal training plan, which exercises are best for women, and how to optimize your workout routines for the best results.

Meet Your Fitness Goals With a Targeted Training Plan 

Women often have different gym goals from men. But whether you want to improve overall fitness, focus on fat loss, or get stronger, you need a plan. 

Studies show setting clear, actionable goals increases motivation and adherence to a workout plan [1]. Set yourself up to succeed with a training plan and fitness goals that challenge you in a manageable way. 

When devising a workout program, look for a plan you can stick to long-term, not just as a quick fix. Consider how many times a week you can realistically commit to working out, the duration and intensity of those workouts, and the kind of training that will be both effective and enjoyable. 

The more detail, the better; plan your training week, as well as the individual gym workout routines and exercises you will perform each day. 

Which Gym Workout Routines Are Best for Fat Loss and Strength Training?

The most effective gym workout routines for women combine both resistance training and cardio [2]. 

Many women join a gym with weight-loss goals, but if you’re looking to improve health, fitness, and appearance, the focus shouldn’t only be the weight on the scales. Instead, you want to burn body fat and build lean muscle, which will boost your resting metabolic rate [3] and improve your overall body composition. This is best done using a combination of training routines: Cardio workouts are great for burning calories and building fitness and endurance, but weight training is important for building muscle.

Nutrition is also key to fat loss and building muscle mass, so combine your training plan with a healthy diet or meal plan for the best results. You can’t out-train a bad diet.

Should Women Add Weight Training To Their Workout Routine?

Which of these statements is true?: 

  1. Weight lifting makes women “bulky.”
  2. Lifting lighter weights will “tone” instead of build muscle mass.
  3. Performing zillions of ab exercises will help you lose fat around your belly. 

The answer: None of them — they are all myths. 

Let’s set the record straight:

  1. Lifting weights (yes, even really heavy ones) will not make you bulky. Female muscle growth is very different from male muscle growth due to different testosterone levels, and the only results you will likely see from weight training are increased strength, better muscle definition, and an improved fitness level. 
  2. Muscles can only increase or decrease in size, so you can build muscle but can’t “tone” it. However, women naturally have a higher body fat percentage and lower muscle mass than men, so that toned look you desire is actually achieved by building muscle and losing body fat.  

To do this, you need to consistently challenge and stress the muscles through progressive overload. That means lifting heavy weights or using lighter weights but increasing the reps. Both will result in muscle growth, as long as you are challenging yourself. For the best results, include a combination of compound and isolation exercises.

Sadly, no, you can’t choose where and how you lose fat (that’s where genetics come into play). However, if you’re working to reduce overall body fat, training specific muscles can help improve the appearance of those areas. 

For example, ab crunches alone won’t give you visible abs but, working your obliques while losing body fat can add definition and give the illusion of a slimmer waist. Want to build a bigger booty? Train your glutes. How about toning your arms and legs? Work your biceps, triceps, quadriceps, and hamstrings.

Optimize Your Workout Plan for the Best Results

Start each workout routine with a warm-up: Warm up your muscles and raise your heart rate with light to moderate cardio. Then, add some dynamic stretches or activation exercises to target the specific muscle groups you will use.

Make a weekly training plan: Alternate weight and cardio days or follow a weight lifting split to ensure you don’t overwork certain muscle groups. For example, do an upper-body workout one day, a lower-body workout the next, and a cardio workout the following day.

Include rest days: Giving your body time to rest is essential to optimizing performance and muscle growth. Plan at least one or two rest days or active recovery days each week.

End each workout routine with a cool-down: Cool your muscles and bring your heart rate back down with some light cardio, followed by some stretches.

4 Effective Gym Workout Routines for Women

These four gym workout routines are designed to burn fat, build muscle, and get your heart rate up — no personal trainer required.  

1. Full-Body Workout Routine

Target all muscle groups with this comprehensive full-body workout routine.

Perform 3 sets of each exercise using a weight suitable for your fitness level. Rest for 1-2 minutes in-between sets. 

  • 10-15 Goblet squats using a kettlebell or dumbbell

Beginner adaptation: Choose a lighter weight or start with a bodyweight squat.

  • 10-15 Kettlebell swings

Beginner adaptation: Choose the lightest kettlebell or substitute for a lighter dumbbell.

  • 10-15 Push-ups on your knees (or full push-ups depending on your ability level)

Beginner alternative: Perform incline push-ups using a step or bench to reduce the amount of bodyweight carried by your arms.

  • 10-15 Dumbbell shoulder press es

Beginner alternative: Perform the same exercise on the shoulder press machine.

  • 10-15 Seated cable rows using the cable row machine

Alternative: Perform the same exercise using a light resistance band.

  • 10-15 Bicep curls using dumbbells

Beginner alternative: Use a barbell or EZ curl bar.

  • 10-15 Tricep kickbacks using dumbbells

Alternative: Perform the same exercise using the cable machine.

  • 10-15 Russian twists using a kettlebell or dumbbell

Beginner and advanced adaptations: Perform a bodyweight Russian twist with feet on the ground, or raise your feet off the floor to make it more challenging.

2. Upper-Body Workout Routine

Hit the back, chest, shoulders, biceps, and triceps with this complete upper-body workout routine. 

Perform 3 sets of each exercise using a weight suitable for your fitness level. Rest for 1-2 minutes in-between sets.

  • 10-12 Lat pulldowns using the lat pulldown machine

Alternative: assisted pull-ups using resistance bands or pull-up machine

  • 10-12 Single-arm bent-over rows using dumbbells

Beginner alternative: Try bent-over rows using a barbell.

  • 10-12 Chest presses using the chest press machine

Alternative: Do a bench press using a barbell or light dumbbells.

  • 10-12 Lateral raises using dumbbells

Beginner alternative: Perform a bodyweight version with your back against a wall.

  • 10-12 Biceps hammer curls using dumbbells

Beginner alternative: Do biceps curls using a barbell or EZ curl bar.

  • 10-12 Triceps pulldowns using the cable machine and a rope attachment

Beginner alternative: Use a lighter weight and a straight bar attachment.

3. Lower-Body Workout Routine

Target the glutes, hamstrings, and quads with this lower-body workout routine.

Perform 3 setsof each exercise using a weight suitable for your fitness level. Rest for 1-2 minutes in-between sets. 

  • 12-15 Leg presses 
  • Advanced alternative: Substitute this exercise for barbell squats.

    • 12-15 Hip thrusts using a barbell

    Beginner adaptation: Perform bodyweight hip thrusts or use a dumbbell.

    • 12-15 Romanian deadlifts using a barbell

    Beginner adaptation: Use lighter dumbbells or a kettlebell.

    • 12-15 Walking lunges using dumbbells

    Beginner adaptation: Perform bodyweight walking lunges.

    • 12-15 Leg extensions using the leg extension machine
    • 12-15 Standing glute kickbacks using the cable machine

    Beginner adaptation: Perform bodyweight standing glute kickbacks.

    4.  Cardio Workout Routine

    Get your heart rate up with this 30-35-minute cardio workout, combining high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and cardio machines.

    Part 1: Low-intensity cardio 

    • 10 minutes on the elliptical or rowing machine

    Part 2: HIIT bodyweight cardio circuit 10 to 15 minutes, no equipment needed.

    Perform 2-3 rounds of this circuit: 

    • 10-15 burpees
    • 10-15 squats
    • 10-15 jumping jacks
    • 10-15 knee to elbow raises
    • 10-15 crunches

    Beginner adaptations: Perform low-impact variations such as the step-out burpee and side-step jacks.

    Part 3: Low- to medium-intensity cardio 

    • 10 minutes on the treadmill or stationary bike

    Try These Gym Workout Routines for Women and See Results 

    With a dedicated training plan and targeted full-body workouts like those listed above, you can expect to start seeing results within just a few weeks. 

    Remember, you need to keep challenging yourself if you want to continually improve, so switch up your workouts or increase the weights every 4-6 weeks. 

    Finally, be sure to support your training plan with a suitable nutrition plan or supplements for women to get the most out of every gym workout.




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