Strength Training for Women: The Complete Guide

Strength training for women has so many benefits you'd be silly to exclude it from your workout program. Don't worry you won't end up looking bulky or man like.

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Can I ask you a question?

How often do you do strength training?

Regularly? Or do you tend to skip it in favour of more cardio?

I get it. I remember one of the first times I went to a gym and had a program written for me. My fitness instructor had me on all of weight machines with just a little bit of cardio thrown in at the end.

I remember complaining to my dad for over an hour.

‘I don’t want to get bulky, I want to lose weight’.

I now know how important strength training is, especially when you’re trying to lose weight. But that first fitness instructor didn’t really do a good job at explaining the benefits of weight training and why I should be doing it.

But, that’s not going to happen to you.

I want you to know everything there is to know about strength training for women. Why you should be doing it. How it’s going to help you get a stronger body. How it’s going to get you a leaner, more defined body. How it’s going to help you get to your fitness goals.

Interested? Intrigued?

Well, let’s do this…

Strength training for is everything you need to know

Strength Training for Women: You Won’t Get Bulky?

But before we get into it, let’s get a common misconception out of the way...

Strength training, weight training, weight lifting, they are not going to make you look bulky. They’re not going to make you look like a man. They are going to help you look firm, toned and athletic.

It’s because you don’t have enough testosterone to build significant muscle. In fact us women have 20 times less testosterone than men. Which means we’re not physically able to build muscle like men.

So don’t worry about getting bigger.

And don’t forgo weight lifting. It’s so much fun.

If are concerned, have a read of what is a bodybuilder. Bodybuilding isn't just about doing a few heavy squats, or deadlifts. It's a dedicated lifestyle. A conscious decision you have to make. 

Strength Training for Women: What is Strength Training?

Strength training works by stressing your muscles. As they recover they get stronger

Before we go any further I want to ask, do you know what strength training is?

Because you need to know what you’re getting in to…

Strength training, or resistance training, or weight training, is any form of exercise that stresses your muscles.

Stressing your muscles helps them grow. It helps them get stronger.

So, it’s basically any form of workout that makes your muscles grow. It is usually weight-bearing exercise and usually involves lifting weights, although it isn’t a necessity. Your body weight is actually enough to strength train, especially if you’re a beginner.

You can get amazingly strong and ripped using just your body weight. But that’s information for another section.

Strength training for Women: Benefits of Strength Training

There are so many benefits of strength training it's something you really need to incorporate in your workout routine

We all know exercise in general is really good for you.

For your physical health, heart health, general health and mental health.

But what is it about strength training that means you should be doing it. Why is it different to any other type of exercise?

Bone Health

Bone health should be a priority for all of us women especially as we get older.

It’s not something any of us want to think about, but at some point our oestrogen levels will drop as we head into the next big change in our life cycle.

Oestrogen is a really important part of bone density. So as your levels of oestrogen drops your bones get more porous and weaker.

Strength training can help.

Strength training stresses your bones as well as your muscles and as it does that it encourages your bones to grow. And stronger bones mean you can carry on doing those everyday activities you take for granted now.

Stronger Muscles

It might sound obvious but I’m going to say it anyway, strength training will increase your muscle strength.

Why is that important?

Well, think of all of things you need muscles for...lifting your kids, lifting and carrying your shopping, moving furniture around.

Even things like running, walking, swimming, they can all be made easier with stronger muscles.

Generally, it’s bloody empowering being strong.

And when you’re stronger than your husband/significant other, that’s even better. It’s quite the party piece.

Strength training is great.

Weight Loss

It might seem counter-intuitive but strength training can help you lose weight.

Strength training is actually really important for weight loss.


Strength training helps to build lean muscle. Lean muscle has a higher metabolic rate than body fat. So when you build muscle your metabolic rate increases. That means the amount of calories your body burns at rest increases.

The more calories you burn the more weight you’ll lose.

Win. Win. Right?

Body Image

Ok, I’m going to let you into a little secret, if you think you want to lose weight, you probably don’t.

Not just lose weight anyway.

You want to build muscle as well.

That’s because losing weight on it’s own won’t get your body firmer. Building muscle is what’s going to make your body firmer.

So please, if you want to lose weight, don’t skip the weight training.

If you want to learn more about the benefits of strength training, have a read of health benefits of strength training and losing weight with strength training.

Strength Training for Women: What You’re Going to Need

What do you need for strength training? Your body weight is enough, but, you might want to get some weights.

Ok, there’s no getting around it, you’re going to need some weights.

Yes, your own body weight will be enough especially in the beginning, but using weights will double, if not triple, the amount of exercises, or variations to exercises. And, more variety means more fun.

Well, at least for me.

I would strongly advise you to stay away from the lighter weights.

Light weights are going to be pretty redundant in not very long.

You’ll get stronger. And you’ll get stronger really quickly. So leave the light weights alone and go for slightly heavier ones.

Do less reps and have more rest in between sets.

It will save you money in the long run, I promise.

I’d also recommend going for free weights rather than barbells or machine weights.

Free weights, dumbbells or kettlebells, have lots of benefits and they’re cheaper. Get adjustable versions if you can. They’ll last you longer and you won’t need as much space to store them.

The other option for strength training is equipment is resistance bands.

They’re a lot cheaper than free weights and don’t take up much space at all.

If you’re interested in delving deeper into home workout equipment check out outdoor strength training equipment.

Strength Training for Women: How Do You Do it?

As always I suggest you speak to a personal trainer to make sure you can do all of the exercises you need to do with proper form.

The risk of injury increases when you add weight to any exercise so correct form is vitally important.

Personal trainers can also help devise a workout program that incorporates cardio workouts, rest days.

Am I selling the benefits of a personal trainer here?

I’m always available to help out if you can’t, or don’t want, to see anyone locally.

I can make sure you have good form and help build a balanced strength training program that gets you to your fitness goals. Whatever they are.

But let’s move on…

Strength Training for Women: Best Strength Training Exercises

There are a number of exercises that you’ll do when you’re strength training, but essentially they are variations of five basic movements.

We’ll be making the most of all of the variations to keep all of the workouts interesting. But, at their core, they are five movements.

What are the 5 basic strength training exercises?


Squats are a classic lower body strengthener. And they're classic for a reason. They work.

Whether it’s a bodyweight squat, a goblet squat or an Asian squat, squats are a classic, and for good reason.

They strengthen you lower body, your quads, your glutes. They also work your core.

Getting heavier with squats has even more benefits.

If you have bad knees and struggle to do squats, you might want to start with side leg raises instead. 

They're also great for strengthening your legs but, they keep the pressure off your knees. Once your legs are strong enough advance to squats. 


The lunge is another lower body classic, with many, many, many variations.

You might think that there’s little difference between the squat and lunge, but it is important that any strength training program you do utilises both.

Whilst they do work the same big groups of muscles, they do it in different ways.

Doing both will make sure the muscles of your lower body, your lutes, your hamstrings, your quads, are all supper strong.

But, if you've got knee pain, you might want to do something other than a lunge. Never fear, I've got some alternatives for you. Check out alternative for lunges.

Push Up

Push ups are a great strength exercise. They work all of your upper body muscles and help with flexibility and posture

Push ups are an amazing exercise for strength building because they work pretty much all of the muscles in your upper body.

They are a hard exercise to master though. The mistake people tend to make with push ups is concentrating on doing them on your toes rather than your knees.

You should concentrate on getting your chest as close to the floor as you can.

Starting on your knees and gradually working up to a full push up.

Don’t rush the process.

Overhead Press

Another important upper body exercise that needs to be part of your program.

The overhead element of this exercise also activates your core muscles. They help with balance when you’ve got heavy weights overhead.

There are lots of benefits of overhead press.

So, they’re actually much more than an upper body exercise. And they’re fun.

Seeing how much weight you can push over your head is...well, fun. It’s empowering. You’ll develop a competitive edge you didn’t know you had before.

Trust me.


I might be saying something controversial here, but I see rows as accessory exercises.

They’re not really a sexy move. You can’t really bust out the big weights for them. But, they are important. Really important.

They help maintain good posture. They help you get stronger in other exercises, and in your everyday activities.

Strength Training for Women: Alternative to Barbell Hip Thrust

You can still have a gorgeous bum if you can't or don't want to do barbell hip thrusts. Try these 6 alternative to barbell hip thrust.

There's no getting away from it, the barbell hip thrust is an amazing exercise. 

It strengthens your bum. It makes it more powerful and more peachy. 

The problem is, most of us, yes me included, don't have a barbell at home. 

So, what can your do?

Don't worry there is an alternative to barbell hip thrust. I've got 6 for you.

Strength Training for Women: Your Abs

How do you feel about your abs? Your belly? You stomach muscles?

After having a baby, they can be a little saggy. Maybe a bit fuller than you'd like. 

The problem is, when we're pregnant our ab muscles are stretched beyond all recognition and it takes quite a bit of work to get them back into shape. 

But, it's important we do. 

And not just for how they look. 

Our core is really important. And having a strong one is essential for having a healthy, pain free life. Now, and well into the future. 

But how do you train your abs?

Sit ups?


Don't worry. There is more to ab workouts than sit ups. In fact I've got 21 alternatives to sit ups

Exercises that will put a bit more spice into your ab workout. 

So, what are you waiting for? Go and have a read and try a few.

Strength Training for Women: Compound vs Isolation Exercises

Compound vs isolation exercises: Which one should you be doing? The answer might not be what you think...

The exercises I've mentioned above are what we call compound movements. 

They work multiple groups of muscles and multiple areas of the body. 

You might not know it, but there are different types of exercises. They're known as isolation exercises. 

So, what are they, and which should you be doing?

I clear it all up in compound vs isolation exercises. Have a read.

Strength Training for Women: The Workouts

Ok, shall we get to the workouts?

4-week Glute Workout Plan At Home: Get a Strong, Gorgeous Bum

4-Week Glute Workout Plan At Home: Get Strong, Gorgeous Bum in the Comfort of Your Own Home

How do you feel about your bum?

Do you love looking at it in the mirror?

Does it look great in jeans, pencil skirts or leggings?

Or, would you prefer it a bit firmer?

Well, you’re here, so I’m going to guess that you’d like to work on your bum a little bit.

So, I’ve got a 4-week glute workout plan for you, that you can do in the comfort of your own home.

Strength Training for Women: 7 Exercises to do Everyday, With Workouts

Tired of reading the same old exercises that, actually, you can't do everyday? Well here are 7 exercises to do everyday. Exercises you actually can do everyday, workouts included.

Are you tired of reading the same old exercises to do everyday, and you can't actually do them everyday. Running, Pilates, jogging.

Yeah, I've read them as well. 

Well, here are 7 exercises to do everyday. And they are actually exercises you can do everyday. 

And what's more, I've included three workout ideas so you don't have to figure out how to do them everyday. 

You can just get going on the road to your body transformation, fitness transformation, nailing your goals. Whatever they are. 

Strength Training for Women: 15 Minutes to a Strong Core

Whether you want a 'six pack' or you're looking to strengthen your core after pregnancy. I've got the workouts for you...

Do your abs need a bit of strengthening after pregnancy? I've got you covered with these great workouts that hit ALL of the muscles of your core.

Do your core muscles feel a bit soft since having your little one? Maybe it did before you became a mama. I know mine did.

But after going through pregnancy and birth, it’s really important to get that core strong again.


Because if it’s not strong your other muscles will be working overtime to compensate. Lower back hurting much?

When you’ve got a baby, or toddler, who wants picking up, cuddling, tending to, we don’t think too much about correcting lifting techniques, am I right? And when your core isn’t in top form that can lead to a bad back.

So, how do we get rock solid belly? How do we take the strain off our backs?

Full ab workout at home: your abs are made up of different muscles. Any full ab workout should hit them all

Your abdominal muscles are made up of four separate muscle groups. When you are doing a full ab workout at home, make sure you are hitting all of these muscles. Doing crunches alone will just not cut it.

Full ab workout at home: Your hip flexors and lower back should be included in any full ab workout

Don’t forget your hip flexors and your lower back. They’re technically not considered ab muscles, but they do for part of your core. And you can’t really work on your abs without paying attention to these muscles as well. They may need stretching out. I know mine do, and they will need strengthening.

Full ab workout at home: be honest with yourself about your you want a stronger core or to get rid of the baby belly? Or both?

Be honest with yourself about your goals. Why are your doing your ab workouts? Is it to get a strong core? Or, is it to get rid of the baby belly? Have you got a dream of having a flat, well defined mid region? I’m not judging (I’m definitely in the latter camp), you just need to acknowledge that doing an ab workout by itself is not going to get you that perfectly toned stomach. You will need a well rounded workout program, as well as a healthy balanced diet. But, we’ll talk about that later.

Learn More

So, do you want to get a super strong core and save your lower back from a lifetime of suffering? Do you want to know what exercises will guarantee all of your ab muscles are getting a workout? Click here for your full ab workout at home...

Strength Training for Women: Home Tricep Workouts no Equipment Required

If your arms are your 'trouble spot' don't worry I've got the workout for you. And you won't need any equipment

If your arms are your 'don't like' area, I've got you covered. I know how it feels when there’s an area of your body you really don’t like.

I know we should be loving our bodies exactly how they are. I know we’re all beautiful just how we are. But, it just doesn’t help, does it? You see what you see, and if you don’t like it you want to change it.

If your arms are your ‘don’t like’ area then I’ve got great news, I've got some workouts that will help.

Tricep workout at home: these workouts will help you get more toned arms if they are used alongside a well rounded workout routine

But, just so we’re clear, these workouts will help you get more toned arms and strong arms IF they are uses alongside a well-rounded workout routine that works your entire body and a balanced diet. So, if you’re new to working out, or you’ve been away from regular exercise for a while, work on those two first. You’ll see better results, faster which will keep you motivated.

Tricep workout at home: the best bodyweight tricep exercises are the push up and the tricep dip. These workouts incorporate them both

The best bodyweight tricep exercises have to be the push up and tricep dips in one form or another. Push ups are a really difficult exercise to do, so don’t be put off if you struggle. You’re supposed to. They’re supposed to be hard. Keep working at them. You will get better at them.

Tricep workout at home: Your triceps are quite a small group of muscles so don't work them too hard in one go

Your triceps are quite a small muscle group so don’t work them too hard in one go. You don’t want to be doing all three of these workouts at once. Supplement your regular workout routine with one of these workouts once, maybe twice a week. Start with the AMRAP and use it as a test to see your improvement.

Learn More

Are you excited about getting the arms of your dreams? Then check out these home tricep workouts no equipment required.

Strength Training for Women: Let's Go

Are you keen to get going? To get strength training?

I hope so because it such an important part of remaining healthy. And it is so much fun. 

Yes, you'll probably get DOMS, but they will easy with time and as you get stronger. 

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