It's a shame there isn't more information available on strength training for women ! Many personal trainers don't even know how to put together a good girl's strength routine . Girls' training is a field fraught with myth and uncertainty. If you're a woman and you've come this far, don't worry! Depor Trainer will be your free personal trainer. We want you to learn all the benefits of strength training and, above all, to get your workouts right from the start. The path is not complicated! You just have to pay attention!

Why women's strength training is often misconceived

Girls often don't know how to strength train. It's not their fault! There are certain beliefs, even perpetuated by gym trainers, that hold women back from enjoying the benefits of strength. Let's see the most common problems.

Don't fall for any of the following myths :

  • • Women should not strength train because this masculinizes their appearance.
  • • Women should always use light weights to avoid injury.
  • • A woman cannot be strong because her body and muscles are not ready for it.
  • • Strength training is too complicated or even potentially harmful.

This is all a lie and there is no scientific basis to back up these claims! In fact, strength training, when done properly, only brings benefits to girls. 

strength training for women

Enjoy the benefits of strength training for women

  • • It helps you to gain muscle mass, which will help you in your day-to-day tasks and to feel better.
  • • Helps you control your weight. Strength training burns a lot of calories. Also the accumulated muscle burns more calories at rest.
  • • Strength exercises give volume to the buttocks and chest. They also combat flaccidity in the arms. Thanks to this, the woman gets a more attractive body.
  • • Training reduces stress and improves your mental state. You will always feel better.
  • • Improves sleep. A good strength session with intense exercises will require a deep sleep afterwards to help repair the body.
  • • It is a purpose and motivation. Exceeding your marks and repetitions in the weight room every day is a plus of motivation.
  • • The activity of doing weights prevents various diseases such as osteoporosis, obesity and heart attacks.
  • • Strengthens bones, ligaments and tendons.

Benefits of strength training for women

Strength training for girls helps you lead a more organized life. If you carry them out regularly, you will live longer enjoying better health. You will feel stronger and you will face each day with a great state of mind.

What is strength training for beginner women like?

If you are new to  strength exercises for women , you should not worry. We will explain the bases to gain strength. The first thing is to know the types of exercises. You only need to learn the names of a few important movements (and know how to do them in the gym). The training has no secrets. Strength exercises have been the same for years and have not changed to this day. Don't be fooled by magic solutions or personal trainers who seek to complicate everything. Things are much simpler than you think and you will understand it right away.

Strength training is made up of two types of movements: basic exercises and auxiliary or analytical exercises.. The first are the most important, since thanks to them you will gain global strength throughout the body. The basic exercises involve many muscle groups at the same time (legs, back, arms...). The auxiliary exercises, although less important, are also of great help. These exercises complement the basic movements. The auxiliary or analytical movements do not work large muscle groups, but very specific muscles (for example, the biceps, the triceps, the quadriceps, the chest...). In addition, analytical exercises help us to gain more muscle mass. Muscle gains are directly related to strength gains. Learning to combine both is the key to a well planned training.

Know the basic strength exercises for girls

The following 7 exercises that we will see are the fundamentals and the base of any strength program. Never forget them! All  beginning women's strength training should include them.

• Deadlift : It is one of the most important movements because it implies the coordination and work of all the muscles of the body. Mainly power the back, but also the lower body. Improve your overall body strength.

Barbell deadlift technique

• Barbell squats : It is perhaps the best leg strength exercise you can do if you are a girl. This compound movement involves a large number of muscles. The greatest benefits are seen by lowering the hips below the knees (ie, doing a deep squat). This move takes time to master, but it's one of the best. It also involves the strength of the back and the traps.

Back Bar Squat

• Bench press : This is the most widely used exercise today to increase strength in the upper body (torso and arms). It's simple. You only need a flat bench to lie on and a bar with plates. This bench is in any commercial gym.

Bench press exercise to gain strength

• Military Press : It is the second great movement to increase the strength of the core, although you will also need your legs to maintain balance, since the exercise is done standing up. You require a bar and a rack to place it. It mainly works the strength of the shoulders, triceps and the core in general (including the abdomen).

Standing Barbell Military Press Shoulder Exercise

• Rowing with a bar : This movement is used to exercise the traction force of the upper body, mainly in the back and arms. It is a powerful builder of muscle mass and strength.

Pendlay rowing technique

Pull ups: This pulling movement is done with the body's own body weight. A grab and hang bar is necessary. It can be a really tricky exercise for most girls. It will take practice and some time before you can do a few pull-ups. However, you have aids to get started, such as elastic bands or assisted pull-up machines that are in many gyms. Exercise the strength of the back, arms and abdomen.

How to do pull ups

Dips: As in the previous exercise, the funds for the pectoral are somewhat complicated to do. You have to propel your body over two parallel bars. You may need a while until you develop enough strength. Alternatively, you can do the exercise on a bench, which will be much easier. This exercise strengthens the chest, shoulders, and triceps.

Parallel dips, a strength exercise for girls

Dips for chest on bench
Variant of dips in a bench.

These are the 7 main exercises you need to gain strength, no more, no less. If you have the space and equipment to do them, you can even start your  women's strength training at home with no problem. Only with these proposed exercises, you can become very strong in all parts of your body. However, you will want to complete your workout with many more varied movements. 

The basic exercises have variants . For example, the bench press can be done with an incline bench or with dumbbells. The deadlift can be done with the legs shoulder-width apart (conventional) or with the legs open (summo deadlift). You can also perform the barbell or dumbbell row. Including variations is important because thanks to them you get more muscle work.

Variants of the basic exercises :

• Deadlift

- Normal deadlift

- Romanian deadlift (with straight legs and without the bar touching the ground)

- Sumo deadlift (with open legs)

- Dumbbell deadlift

• Squat

- Back squat (the bar is placed on the traps)

- Front squat (the bar is held above the clavicles)

- Half squat (full depth is not reached when lowering)

- Dumbbell squat

• Bench press

- Flat barbell bench press

- Incline barbell bench press

- Decline bench press with bar

- Dumbbell bench press (flat, incline or decline)

•  Military press

- Standing barbell military press

- Seated military press

- Press behind the neck (the bar is raised from behind the head)

- Military press with dumbbells

• Rowing

- Bent-over barbell row

- T-bar row (with a much narrower grip)

- Pendlay Row (in this version, the torso is straighter and the bar rests on the floor in each repetition)

- Rowing with supinated grip (with the palms of the hands facing your body)

- Dumbbell Row

• Pull up

- Overhand grip pull-ups (with the back of the hand facing the face)

- Pull-ups with supinated grip (with the palms of the hands facing the face)

- Neutral pull-ups (with the palms of the hands facing each other)

• Dips

- Dips in parallel bars

- Bench dips

Deadlift in strength training for girls
The sumo deadlift, a variant of the basic exercise.

Know the auxiliary exercises

Auxiliary movements are also called isolation exercises because they "isolate" very specific areas of the body (instead of involving a large number of muscles at once). These movements focus on a specific muscle. They don't allow you to move as much weight as compound movements, but they are important because they help correct weak spots and gain muscle mass in localized areas of the body. There are many auxiliary exercises. Here, we will name a few well-known ones for each muscle.

• Trapezius

- Shrugs with bar or dumbbell

- Upright row

•  Shoulders

- Lateral raises

- Front raises

- Rear lateral raises with dumbbells

- Rear lateral raises in machine

•  Biceps

- Z-bar curl

- Dumbbell biceps curl

- Hammer curl

- Concentrated curl

- Scott bench biceps curl

- Reverse grip Z-bar curl

- Incline bench dumbbell curl

• Triceps

- French press with bar Z

- French press with dumbbells

- Overhead dumbbell extension

- Two-handed overhead dumbbell extension

- Triceps kick

- Straight grip cable triceps extension

- Rope pulley triceps extension

• Chest

- Flyes for pectoral on flat bench

- Flyes for pectoral in inclined bench

- Flyes for pectoral in machine

- Cable crossing in pulley

• Back

- Wide grip high pulley pulldown

- Close grip high pulley pulldown

- Seated rowing machine or Gironda rowing

- Dumbbell pullover

- Lat pulley extension

• Quadriceps

- Seated quadriceps extension on machine

- Dumbbell lunges

- Leg press

- Hack squat machine 

- Bulgarian squat

- Squat on a Multipower machine

• Femoral

- Lying hamstring curl on machine

- Seated hamstring curl on machine

- Gute kickbacks with machine or cable

- Deadlift with stiff legs

• Gluteus

- Hip Thrust

- Gute kickbacks with machine or cable

- Deadlift with stiff legs

- Leg press with legs wide apart

• Calf

- Calf extension standing on the machine

- Calf extension seated on bench

- Calf extension in the leg press

- Dumbbell calf extension

Auxiliary exercises in strength training for girls

Planning the best strength training for a girl

If you've followed us this far, congratulations! You already know the exercises. You already know the basics: there are basic exercises and their variants (the most important) and analytical exercises . The key to creating effective strength training is how you combine these types of exercises, along with an appropriate number of sets.

Are you going to design your own strength routine for a girl ? 

  • • The basic exercises and their variations are always placed at the beginning of the training. They are very demanding and you need all your energy to progress in them.
  • • Afterwards, you can do various analytical or isolation exercises, depending on the areas of the body you want to improve.
  • • Normally, it's best to leave the exercises with machines and pulleys for the end (to "finish off" the routine). 

* A training style that usually works very well is to start with barbell exercises, then do dumbbell movements, and finally finish with pulleys and machines. Of course, we are talking in general terms, since you will be able to change the order when you are more advanced and experienced. In the end, the routine must be tailored to the weightlifter and no two workouts will ever be the same.

The best strength training for beginner women

And what is the ideal division in strength training for women?

Typical ways to break up a strength or bodybuilding routine are as follows:

• Full Body Routine : You will perform 1 or 2 exercises for each muscle group in the same training session. You will exercise your back, chest, shoulders, legs and arms in the same day. Normally, you train 3 days a week, in which we will strengthen the entire body.

• Split routine (known as the Weider system) : It consists of using each training day to train one or two muscles. In an example of four days it would be done as follows:

- Day 1: Chest and biceps

- Day 2: Legs (quadriceps, hamstrings and calves)

- Day of rest

- Day 3: Shoulders and traps

- Day 4: Back and triceps

• Leg and torso routine : This routine is also usually four days a week and consists of training only legs or torso during the day. As an example, on leg day you would do a squat, leg press, hamstring curl, or Romanian deadlift. On torso day, this would be exercises like the bench press, lat pulldown, military press, or triceps extension. 

- Day 1: Torso

- Day 2: Legs

- Day of rest

- Day 3: Torso

- Day 4: Legs

• Push and Pull Routine : This division of training includes days where you only do push exercises, and days where you only train with pulling movements. The exercises can be only for the torso, only for the legs or a combination of both parts. The important thing is that the movements are "push" or "pull". Pushing exercises would be the bench press, dips, quadriceps extension, leg press, squats, military press... Pulling exercises include back pull-ups, barbell rows, back pulldowns, biceps curl, hamstring curl or deadlift. 

The push works the front of the body (pectoral, shoulders, and triceps), while the pull strengthens the posterior chain (back, trapezius, hamstrings, gluteus, and calves). Example:

- Day 1: Push

- Day 2: Pull

- Day of rest

- Day 3: Push

- Day 4: Pull

Strength exercises for beginner girls in the gym

What is the ideal repetition range in strength exercises for women?

There are high, medium, and low rep ranges. 4-8 are low reps, 10-20 are medium reps, and 30-40 would be high rep ranges. There is a popular belief in gyms that to train strength you have to do low repetitions (between 4 and 6). Well, this is nothing more than a myth .

The reality is that you can gain strength in all rep ranges . In fact, the ideal is that you combine and use all the ranges of repetitions. This is the most successful method we have tried to gain strength at all ages. You can apply it in  strength exercises for a 40-year-old , 30-year-old or 20-year-old woman. Combining rep ranges always works great.

We recommend starting in a high rep range; for example, 30 or 40 repetitions. From here, weekly, we will gradually increase the weight lifted in the exercise. As we increase the load, we will be able to do fewer reps each workout, until one day we reach a weight where we can only do 8-5 reps. It will be time to return to the starting weight and break our rep records in all ranges!

Most of the time, we should be training with high and medium reps. This style is simply much safer. From time to time, when we approach heavy loads, we will test our maximum strength in the low repetition ranges (4, 5...).

Strength exercises for women

Routines or strength training for women in the gym

Over time, you will be able to plan your workouts yourself, choose the exercises and the number of repetitions with which you can best progress. However, we understand that you may be new to strength training for women. To make things easier for you, we have two pre-designed strength routines with strategically chosen exercises. Use them! The first routine is for high and medium reps. The second routine is for low reps. Start with the first routine.

• The importance of recording progress : Before starting any training program, it is important that you prepare a note file on your mobile phone. You have to write down all the exercises, weights moved and repetitions performed . This is very important. If you're not going to track your progress, it's not worth starting a strength program. Use a pen, paper, your phone, "tablet" or any instrument that allows you to record your progress. You will have to keep a historical record of everything you have done in the gym. It is not possible to progress if you do not know what you did in previous trainings. Remember it!

Explosive strength routine for girls

The goal of the following routine is to gain explosiveness with high reps. On your first day of training, you will start each exercise with a weight that allows you to do between 30 and 40 repetitions. 

Always look at the first sets of each exercise; It is the most important sets. As you will see, each exercise has 2 or 3 sets. The second and third sets are for additional muscle work, but where we're really going to gain strength is in the first set.

Most gyms have small plates of at least 1.25 kg. You will add 2.5 kg of weight to the barbell exercises progressively (1.25 kg per side). Also in most gyms the dumbbell weights jump from 2kg to 2kg. In dumbbell exercises, you will use the following dumbbells (2 kg heavier) from time to time. Now we will explain how to progress in explosive strength training.

You have at your disposal two ways to progress :

1. Get more reps with a weight

In this system, you'll start with a weight that allows you to do around 30 reps without fail . It is important that you do not do your maximum repetitions on the first day (leave some without doing, even if you can more). The idea is to increase the repetitions with the same weight over the weeks. One day, you'll hit your maximum rep record with that weight. Then, in the next workout, you'll add 2,5 kilos and start another rep progression with the new weight. 

Do the repetitions as quickly as possible to gain strength and power.

2. Increase the weights while maintaining the repetitions

In this case, we'll start with a weight that we can easily do 30 reps with (we need to leave some undone). In the following training, we will directly add 2.5 kg in the exercise. We will try to maintain 30 repetitions. Of course, we will reach a day where we will go below 30 reps, but we will continue the progression. We will add 2.5kg each workout until one day we can only do about 8 reps.

We can choose any rep range to start with (it doesn't have to be 30; it can be 40 or 50). We will do the repetitions as fast as possible.

- First method: So that you understand with an example how to start your strength training for girls , we are going to choose the barbell squat exercise. Suppose you start with 15kg (a 10kg long bar and 2.5kg on plates per side). 

In the first style, gain reps, you might be able to do 26 reps on your first day (allowing for a margin). What will you do in the next training? You will try to exceed those 26 repetitions. Maybe now you'll be able to do about 28 with room for improvement. Then, in the following week, you will do 30 repetitions with the 15 kg. On the last day, you hit 33 reps and realize you can't progress any further with 15kg. It's time to raise 1.25 kg on each side of the bar to start another similar progression! 

As you can see, you have needed about 4 workouts (4 weeks) to reach your maximum with 15 kg. In the following week, you will start with 17.5 kg. It may take another three to four workouts to hit your 17.5kg rep max. Afterwards, you will have to go up to 20 kg and so on...

WeightWeek 1week 2week 3week 4
15 kg26 reps.28 reps.30 reps.33 reps.
17,5 kg25 reps.29 reps.31 reps.
20 kg25 reps.26 reps.29 reps.29 reps.
22,5 kg22 reps.24 reps.25 reps.27 reps.
25 kg22 reps.24 reps.24 reps.
27,5 kg19 reps.22 reps.
30 kg15 reps.16 reps.18 reps.21 reps.
32,5 kg12 reps.15 reps.19 reps.
35 kg12 reps.15 reps.15 reps.
37,5 kg10 reps.12 reps.
40 kg10 reps.
42,5 kg8 reps.
45 kg6 reps.

As you can see, we started our strength cycle by squatting 15kg for 33 reps, and ended up doing 6 reps with 45kg. The records for each weight have been marked in bold type. You can see that the number of training sessions required to make a record is variable. In some weights, a couple of workouts will suffice, while in others we will have to do up to four workouts (or even more). It all depends on how you are during the day and your feelings. Not every day is the same! Sometimes, you will notice that you have a lot of energy to give it your all; other times, you'll want to be more conservative.

You have seen that 35 workouts have been necessary to reach the high loads. What will you do next? You will return to the weight of the beginning, 15 kg, and you will try to beat your old records. In our example, it was 33 repetitions with 15 kg. Do not try to beat this personal best on the first day of training. We explain that you leave some repetitions undone; maintain the same weight for several workouts. We would start, for example, with 27 repetitions and we would add each training day until we exceeded the 33 we had. We will do this with all weights.

That's why it was important to keep track of all progress! You will have to exceed what you previously achieved with each weight. The goal is to get further and further in each cycle. For example, next time you end up doing 10 reps with 45 kg, instead of 6. If you repeat several cycles, one day you will even be able to do 20 reps with 45 kg. So you will gain strength. You may only add one or two reps to each weight when you repeat a cycle. It seems little, but when you have done it several times, you will have accumulated a great amount of strength.

- Second method : With the system of increasing the weight and maintaining the repetitions, we would do it as follows. Suppose we start by doing 40 easy reps with 15kg.

15 kg40 reps.
17,5 kg40 reps.
20 kg40 reps.
22,5 kg38 reps.
25 kg35 reps.
27,5 kg31 reps.
30 kg30 reps.
32,5 kg27 reps.
35 kg24 reps.
37,5 kg21 reps.
40 kg17 reps.
42,5 kg12 reps.
45 kg9 reps.
47,5 kg7 reps.
50 kg5 reps.

In this case, a single training is done for each weight. We started doing 40 repetitions (without fail and with room for improvement). We will gain 2.5 kg in each training. We will try to maintain 40 repetitions. With the first loads, maybe we can make it. However, over time the number of repetitions will decrease because we will be using higher loads. When we are below 10 repetitions, we will have finished the cycle and we can start again (with the 15 kg from the beginning) to try to break our records.

Next, you will see the routine where you can apply one of the two styles explained. Remember, the first set of each exercise is the most important and where you will have to improve your repetitions. We will call it the top set. And what do I do in the other sets? The exercise will have one or two more sets apart from the top one. These series are complementary and muscular work. Here it is not important the weight or the repetitions that you perform. You can choose this to your liking and according to how you feel on the day. A good range can be between 8 and 15 reps for the secondary sets. Focus on working the muscle well when you do them.

By the way, do not directly lift the working weights without having done warm-up and approach sets before (read the referred article).

Routine with strength exercises for women

Strength routine for girls :

Leave a rest day between each training day.

Day 1: Hamstrings, biceps and shoulders

Deadlift: Top set + 2 secondary sets

Machine Hamstring Curl: Top Set + 2 Secondary Sets

Glute kick on machine (or pulley): Top set + 2 secondary sets

Z-Bar Biceps Curl: Top Set + 1 Secondary Set

Standing Barbell Military Press: Top Set + 1 Secondary Set

Hammer curl: Top set + 1 secondary set

Lateral Raises: Top set + 1 Secondary Set

Rear lateral raises in a machine: Top set + 1 secondary set

Romanian deadlift: Top set + 2 secondary sets

Day 2: Quadriceps, triceps and trapezius

Back Squat: Top Set + 2 Secondary Sets

French press:  Top Set + 2 secondary sets

Leg press:  Top Set + 2 secondary sets

Quadriceps Extension on Machine:  Top Set + 2 Secondary Sets

Multipower Close Grip Incline Press:  Top Set + 2 Secondary Sets

Multipower Squat:  Top Set + 2 secondary sets

Dumbbell Lunges:  Top Set + 1 Secondary Set

Upright row: Top Set + 1 Secondary Set

Dumbbell Shrugs: Top Set + 1 Secondary Set

Day 3: Pectoral, back and gluteus

Bench Press: Top Set + 2 Secondary Sets

Incline Dumbbell Press: Top Set + 1 Secondary Set

Pull up: Top Set + 2 secondary sets

Barbell Row: Top Set + 1 Secondary Set

Flat Bench Flyes: Top Set + 1 Secondary Set

Wide Pulldown: Top Set + 1 Secondary Set

Hip-Thrust: Top Set + 2 secondary sets

Machine Glute Kick: Top Set + 2 secondary sets

Gironda Rowing: Top Set + 1 secondary set

Gluteal hyperextensions: Top Set + 1 secondary set

*Note: To do the glute hyperextensions on the bench, you have to curl your head in towards your chest as if you were a "ball". We have explained this exercise very well in this article.

When you finish a cycle of our proposed routine, you have two options. You can go back to the first weight to do another cycle or move on to the next routine. You can repeat as many cycles as you want. When you have reached a weight for about 8 repetitions, if you want, do the following routine.

5 3 1 strength routine for girls

This routine is strength with low repetitions, unlike the previous one. Do this if you've already completed the women's strength workout above (the high-rep explosive strength routine). Use the 5 3 1 scheme to reach your maximum strength with heavy loads.

How to start? When your weights in the previous training are around 8 repetitions, you will be ready to start.

For an exercise, choose the weight with which you can do 8 repetitions. Let's say you can squat 42.5 kg. Follow the following scheme:

Week 1week 2week 3
42.5 kg x 5 reps. or more45 kg x 3 reps or more47.5 kg x 1 repetition or more

You will have noticed that the scheme is really easy. 

- In the first week, you do at least 5 repetitions (or more, if you can).

- In the second week, you add 2.5 kg and do at least 3 repetitions (do more if you can).

- In the third workout, you add 2.5 kg and do 1 repetition (or more, if you can).

When you complete the three weeks, add 2.5 kg to the weights you used. In our assumption, you would do 45kg x 5 or more, 47.5kg x 3 or more, and 50kg x 1 or more in each respective week. 

Download every 6 weeks and remember to warm up and approach before using heavy loads. If you want more information about this routine, visit this section with the 531 explained.

How to gain strenght if you are a woman

Strength routine 531 for girls :

Day 1: Military

Standing Barbell Military Press: Effective Set + 3 Sets x 10

Pull-ups: Effective set + 2 sets x 8

Dumbbell Shoulder Press: Effective Set + 1 Set

Barbell Row: Effective set + 1 set

Lateral raises: 2 sets

Rear lateral raises in machine: 2 sets

Day 2: Deadlift

Deadlift: Effective set + 3 sets

Incline Dumbbell Bench Press: Effective Set + 1 Set

Back pulldown: Effective set + 1 set

Flat bench fly with dumbbells: Effective set + 1 set

Rowing with dumbbell: Effective set + 1 set

Quadriceps Extensions: Effective set + 2 sets

Dumbbell lunges: 2 sets

Day 3: Rest

Day 4: Bench press

Bench press: effective set + 3 sets

Upright row: Effective set + 1 set

Dumbbell Shrugs: 2 sets

Dips: Effective set + 1 set

Machine chest flyes: Effective set + 1 set

Abdominal crunches: 3 sets

Day 5: Squats

Squats: Effective set + 3 sets

Hip-Thrust: Effective sets + 2 sets

Leg curl on machine: Effective set + 2 sets

Leg press: Effective set + 2 sets

Glute kick on machine or pulley: Effective set + 2 sets

Gluteal hyperextensions: 2 sets

Abdominal wheel: 2 sets

The approach has no secrets. There are 4 days, one for each main exercise (military press, deadlift, bench press and squat). There is a day in between to rest. Follow the scheme of 5, 3 or 1 repetitions in the effective series as we have explained. As you can see, there are also extra sets (where you can do as many repetitions of work as you want). Many complementary exercises have been added to the main exercises so that you have a global work of the body.

Download these strength training exercises for women in PDF

Click the link to download Strength Training for Women PDF . There you have the two routines explained. Take them on your mobile phone to consult them whenever you want.

Can I do this women's strength workout at home?

Strength training at home for women

The basic strength exercises and their variants only require a bar, discs, dumbbells, a bench and a rack to place the bar. If you can buy this material and have the space to put it, you will be able to do your strength training at home for women . Obviously, if you want to use all the machines you will have to go to the gym, but the basic exercises can always be done at home with the right equipment.

You can now take advantage of all the benefits of strength training for women ! Strength exercises can begin at any age, even 45 or 50 years old. Obviously, the training will have to be adapted to the level of each person.

Thank you for reading our guide to the end. If you made it this far, you now have all the knowledge to start strength training for girls. Women can be very strong if they put their minds to it! Do you have any questions about strength training? Look for us on the social media!

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