Workout Routines for Women

By Katharine Paljug @kpaljug
August 01, 2023
Workout Routines for Women

Exercising either at home or at the gym can create safe, effective workout routines for women. Check out our breakdown of good workout routines for women.

Effective workout routines for women should include both aerobic exercise, which raises your heart rate and improves your cardiovascular health, and resistance training, which builds muscle.

Aerobic, or cardio, exercise works your whole body and should be done for 10 to 60 minutes several times a week. Resistance training strengthens specific areas of your body and builds muscle through repeated contractions.

To develop leaner muscle, do more repetitions at a lower intensity, such as lifting five-pound weights 30 times. To build larger muscle, do fewer repetitions at a higher intensity, such as lifting 30-pound weights five times.

Your workout routine should include strengthening exercises for the major muscle groups, including your arms, upper back, legs, gluteal (buttocks) muscles, and core.


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Core exercises, sometimes known as abdominal exercises, target the muscles in your belly, back, and sides. The exercises provide a strong foundation for all other movement, reduce back and neck pain, and improve your balance and posture.

Finally, you should set aside time for stretching to maintain your flexibility and range of motion. Stretching helps your muscles recover from the contractions involved in exercise, as well as improving your joint health.

Some studies have found that stretching is most effective after a short, low-impact warm-up, which gets blood flowing to your muscles.

Gym workout routines for women

Most gyms have four sections:

  • Cardio machines, such as treadmills, ellipticals, and stationary bikes
  • Free weights, ranging in weight from just a few pounds to 50 pounds or more
  • Weight machines, targeting either your upper or lower body
  • Stretching equipment, including resistance bands, yoga balls, and mats

A full workout routine should make use of all four areas.

For example, one day you might focus mostly on cardio, doing 30 to 60 minutes on the treadmill or stationary bike, then 10 minutes of exercises using free weights to tone your arms, shoulders, and back.

Alternate days could include 20 minutes of weight machines to exercise your legs, glutes, and lower abdominal muscles, followed by 20 minutes of stretching and core exercises using the resistance bands and a mat.

You can also exercise your entire body taking classes, such as yoga, Zumba, kickboxing, or martial arts. Those fitness courses often include a mix of cardio and resistance training.

If you feel nervous about exercising outside of your home or haven’t worked out with machines before, talk to the gym staff before you begin. Many gyms offer tours or training sessions to help new members develop a workout routine and learn to use the gym equipment safely.

Home exercise routines for women

If you don’t have a gym membership or home gym equipment, you can still develop a workout routine that includes aerobic exercise and resistance training for your body’s major muscle groups.

Cardio exercise can come from any aerobic activity. Try jogging, biking, dancing, swimming, or playing tennis two or three times a week. If you aren’t used to working out, start with 10 to 20 minutes of exercise at a time. As you get stronger, increase your time 5 to 10 minutes each month until you are doing 45 to 60 minutes of aerobic exercise at a time.

To include resistance training in your home workout routine, try body weight exercises that work the various muscle groups. You can vary your routine, exercising your upper and lower body on separate days.

Target muscles in your upper body and back with push-ups in various positions, tricep dips, and arm circles. To work your legs and glutes, do exercises such as squats, calf raises, leg lifts, and lunges.

Complete your workout routine with 1 to 2 days of core exercises. They can include crunches, elbow planks, side planks, leg raises, and flutter kicks.

Developing safe workout routines

Although your workout routine should target the major muscle groups in your body and include aerobic exercise, it’s important not to do the same thing every day or exercise the same muscle group two days in a row.

As you exercise, your muscles tear slightly. You need to give each muscle group a few days to recover and repair itself. Otherwise, you risk injuring your body.

Resistance training, in particular, requires a break of several days between workouts. Some studies have found that, after heavy resistance exercise, your muscles can take up to six days to recover and be ready to work out again.

Workout routines for women should take recovery time into account.

When you start a new workout routine, it is also important to make sure you are healthy enough for the type of exercise you plan to do. Talk to a doctor or a personal trainer to develop a workout routine that will build muscle and burn calories safely.


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August 01, 2023

Reviewed By:  

Janet O’Dell, RN