Strength Training for Women

Exercises to Burn Fat and Add Slimming Muscle

Are you looking for a fitness program that will help you burn calories while also sculpting and toning your abs, butt, and arms? Well, you aren't alone. For years, many women have always believed that strength training would make them big and bulky, which is a complete myth.

Unfortunately that misguided illusion stops a lot of women from taking advantage of one of the best and most effective exercise plans available for improving their bodies.

Strength training for women will make you stronger and bring out lean and muscular body tone. Research also shows that strength training can help slow down many of the physical problems associated with aging.

Getting Started

Strength training can seem intimidating and confusing at first, but it really isn't a rocket science. Once you learn the basics and add a little weight lifting and body weight exercises to your fitness plan two or three times a week, you may be shocked at how quickly you feel stronger and more confident, especially if you always relied on cardio workouts for your fitness.

While the cardio is important, strength training is a critical part of strengthening your body and adding lean muscle. The new muscle will burn extra calories every day and literally replace body fat. Taking the time to lift weights 2-3 times a week can be one of the best ways to improve your health and the tone your body.

Strength Training for Women Exercises

Chest Press

The chest press will strengthen the pectoral muscles on your chest. This will enhance your strength and skills in other sports and normal daily functions like picking up  bag of dog food.

Exercise Instructions:

  • Grab a pair of dumbbells and lie flat on a bench, holding the dumbbells straight up with your feet firmly pressing into the floor.

  • Lower the dumbbells to the sides of your chest for a brief pause and push the weights back up to your starting position.
dumbbell chest press position #1
dumbbell chest press position #1


  • By alternating the dumbbell presses one arm at a time, you will increase the core activity because of shifting weight distribution.

Overhead Tricep Extension

This exercise is great for toning up the muscles on the back of your upper body and banishing those “bat wings” on the back of your arms. It is very important that you maintain proper form throughout this exercise so you can focus 100% on the lat and tricep muscles. 

Exercise Instructions:

  • Grab a par of dumbbells and sit upright on a bench with your arms completely straight up in the air. 

  • Without moving your upper arms, slowly lower the dumbbells behind your head until your forearms are parallel to the floor. 

  • Pause briefly and return your arms up to your starting position and continue your reps.

seated tricep extension position #1
seated tricep extension position #2


  • Your upper arms shouldn't move as you lower the weight and your forearms should be parallel to the floor.

Seated Row Exercise

Back exercises like the seated row are good for straightening your posture and working large muscles that burn a lot of calories. A more defined upper body also makes your waist look smaller.

Exercise Instructions:

  • Sit up straight, push your chest out and grab the handles with on overhand grip.

  •  Keeping your body still, engage your abs and back muscles and pull the handles toward you, letting your upper back muscles do the work. Try and squeeze your shoulder blades together at the end of every rep.

  • Return to your starting position and continue your reps.

seated row exercise


  • Make sure to keep your wrists locked in place without bending them while keeping your arms pressed in close to your body through the entire exercise. Keep your chest pressed on the pad in front of you at all times.

Sumo Squats

Sumo squats will tone your legs, glutes, and even your abs. Because of the wide stance, the main focus of the exercise is the butt and inner thighs.

Exercise Instructions:

  • Hold a dumbbell or kettlebell directly in front of you at waist level with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart and your toes slightly pointing out to the sides.

  •  Lower your body as far down as is comfortable, pushing your hips back like you are sitting into a chair. Slowly raise yourself back up to your starting position, with your weight on your heels and your butt engaged.

Kim Demonstrating the Sumo Squat


  • After reaching the bottom of a squat rep, press through the back of your heels as you stand back up. This will more actively engage your glutes.

Alternating Hammer Curls

Exercise Instructions:

  • Stand straight up with your feet shoulder width apart and a pair of dumbbells at your sides, and your palms facing in. Bend your arms slightly up so you can feel some tension in your biceps.
  • On an alternating basis, curl a dumbbell upward in a hammering type gesture straight up to your shoulder level. Bring the weight down to the starting position and repeat the exercise with the other arm.

  • Continue doing the hammer curl until you have completed your repetitions. It is important that you don't start swinging the dumbbells because of the nature of the movement.

  • Concentrate on being "machine-like" and hold your weights in a fixed position after you lower them to your side during the reps.

alternate hammer curls position #1
alternate hammer curl position #2

Dumbbell Forward Lunge

Most fitness experts feel the lunge exercise is one of the best available routines for toning your butt and legs. And, since it requires a great deal of balance, you will also work your core muscles extra hard. 

Exercise Instructions:

  • Hold a dumbbell in each hand, arms down at your sides and feet about shoulder width apart. 

  • Step forward with your right leg about 2.5-3 feet. Bend your right knee and lower your back knee down to a 90-degree angle. Make sure that your front knee does not angle past your toes but remains in line with your ankle. 

  • As you step forward into the lunge, curl your arms toward your shoulders. Bring your left leg forward as you return to standing position. 

  • Lower the weights back down to your sides. Repeat lunge and curl, stepping out with your left leg this time.

forward lunge position #1
forward lunge position #2
forward lunge position #3

Strength Training for Women Tips

  • Choose compound movements. Compound exercises work several muscle groups at once. This way, you can accomplish more in less time. And, these exercises tend to mimic real life motions so your muscles will be prepared for everyday activities. Examples include weighted squats, lunges, medicine ball twists, etc.

  • Focus on proper form. Sacrificing proper form so that you can lift more weight is counterproductive. Not only will you cause serious injury but you will not get the most from your workout. Performing the exercises properly will protect your body and allow you to isolate specific muscles for better results.

  • Set goals. Without goals, it is easy to get off track. Whether you want to add an extra 5lb weight to your dumbbell by the end of the month or perform 10 pull-ups by your birthday, goals will help you push yourself so you get results faster.

  • Increase weight over time. To see the best strength training for women results you have to lift enough weight. Some experts believe you shouldn't be able to perform any more than 6-8 reps, others say 10-15. But, it's safe to say that if you can easily complete 15 reps, then it is time to increase the weight. You should always aim to get stronger unless you have reached your goal and are simply working to maintain.

  • Don't Overtrain. Make sure your sessions aren't too long, and give yourself enough rest days between strength training workouts. Overworking your muscles can cause injury and may even have the reverse effect due to fatigue.

  • Mix it up. You don't want to do the same thing every day. Not only is it boring, but eventually it may stop giving you the results you are looking for. Keep it exciting by changing it up a little. 

  • Remember to stretch. Stretching prevents injury and will help maximize workout results.

  • Eat Healthy. You will find that eating the right foods and drinking plenty of water can directly affect your energy levels for working out and taking care of your daily functions.
Kim Demonstrating the Bosu Ball Squat

Benefits of Strength Training for Women

Several studies have shown that resistance and weight training offers many benefits to women of every age.

  • Burns Calories and Boosts Metabolism: According to a study cited in Women's Health magazine, women burned an additional 100 calories in the 24 hours following a one hour strength training session than they did when weight training wasn't part of their routine. That means that you are burning fat even when you are watching television or sleeping.

  • Allows You To Target Trouble Spots: By choosing the right exercises, strength training will allow you to focus on specific muscles or target areas that need the most work. Adding weight training to your exercise routine 2-3 times a week will give you results that cardio alone cannot. 

  • Gives You A Toned Appearance: Muscle is compact when compared with fat and takes up less space. This can help you construct the toned and lean physique everyone strives for. 

  • Prevent Osteoporosis: The Mayo Clinic recommends strength training and weight-bearing activities as a way of preventing bone loss and reducing the risk of developing osteoporosis, which is a major concern for many women.

  • Keeps You Younger: While exercise cannot actually change your age, it can make you feel stronger and more energetic.

Other pages that might interest you:

I will continue to share ideas about diet and exercise that have helped me along the way. If you have any questions I can help you with, or if you have any ideas you want to share, feel free to contact me or visit our Q&A forum.

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