Women’s beginner program

Beginner training program for women

Description

The 12-week beginner training program for women is designed to:

  • Introduce your body to physical exercise
  • Introduce you to a variety of exercises, training equipment, and training splits
  • Train all of your major muscle groups
  • Strengthen your core and primal movement patterns
  • Encourage body-wide neuromuscular adaptation
  • Promote the development of a strong foundation of muscular endurance upon which you can safely build in the subsequent programs. Without this strong foundation, you will be at risk of injury

By the end of the program, you should have:

  • developed significant strength (mostly due to neuromuscular adaptation), muscular endurance, and muscular “tone”
  • dramatically improved your overall fitness.

The beginner training program for women is divided into four sections (microcycles), each one lasting for three weeks. The first two microcycles focus on full-body circuit training, which means that you will be training your entire body in each workout. The last two microcycles focus on split training, which means that you will be dividing your body into sections and training them in separate workouts.

Please don’t be intimidated by the number of exercises in some of the workouts. You will be flying through them with minimal rest, so the workouts will be completed very quickly.

Please read the Overview of women’s training programs before starting this program.

Suitability

  • Beginners
  • Individuals who have less than three months of consistent weight training experience
  • Experienced individuals who haven’t trained for more than three months

Instructions

  • Always use a weight that’s heavy enough to make the reps challenging.
  • Whenever you have to increase the weight, add a maximum of 5 lb (2.5 kg) to upper-body exercises and 10 lb (5 kg) to lower-body exercises.
  • Complete the exercises in the order presented.
  • Try to master the proper form of each exercise, including proper breathing technique.
  • Try to develop a mental connection with your muscles and with the movement patterns.
  • If you can’t perform one of the exercises for some reason, see the overview page for alternative exercises.
  • Don’t forget to warm up before, and cool down after, each workout.
  • Once you have completed the beginner training program for women, you must take a deload week (a week during which you either rest or train lightly). Only then should you move on to the next program.

Note: Some exercises are not as of yet included in my exercise database, so I have linked to YouTube videos.

Microcycle 1: Full-body circuit (3 weeks)

  • For microcycle 1, you will perform a full-body circuit
  • Complete 3 workouts per week, with at least 1 day of rest between each workout (e.g. AXAXAXX, where “A” is a workout day and “X” is a rest day)
  • Complete 2 circuits per workout
  • Rest for only 20–30 seconds between exercises
  • Rest for 2–3 minutes before starting the second circuit
  • Each workout should take less than 30 minutes
Exercise Reps
Dumbbell sumo squat* 15–18
Medium-grip lat pull-down 15–18
Hyperextension 15–18
Dumbbell bench press 15–18
Seated or lying leg curl 15–18
Straight-back seated cable row 15–18
Machine standing calf raise 25–30
Seated dumbbell overhead press 15–18
Bicycle crunch 15–20
*Bodyweight squat for first week (YouTube link)

Microcycle 2: Full-body circuit (3 weeks)

  • For microcycle 2, you will perform a more comprehensive full-body circuit
  • Complete either 3 workouts a week (AXAXAXX) or a workout every other day (AX)
  • Complete 2 circuits per workout
  • Rest for only 20–30 seconds between exercises
  • Rest for 2–3 minutes before starting the second circuit
  • Each workout should take less than 40 minutes
Exercise Reps
Barbell squat (wear loop band around thighs if available) 13–15
Medium-grip lat pull-down 13–15
Dumbbell Romanian deadlift (YouTube link) 13–15
Push-up on knees or on stability ball 13–15
Weighted one-leg hip thrust (YouTube link) 13–15
Bent-over dumbbell row 13–15
Seated or lying leg curl 13–15
Dumbbell one-arm overhead press 13–15
Lying alternating straight leg raise (YouTube link) 15–20
Dumbbell curl 13–15
Standing dumbbell one-leg calf raise (YouTube link) 25–30
Bicycle crunch 20–25

Microcycle 3: Upper–Lower split (3 weeks)

  • For microcycle 3, you will perform an upper–lower split. This means that you will train all of your upper body in one workout and all of your lower body in another workout. Also, instead of circuit training, you will perform set training, which means that you will complete all of the sets for one exercise before moving on to the sets of the following exercise
  • Recommended workout schedules: ABXABXX or ABX
  • Rest for only 20–30 seconds between sets
  • Rest for only 60–90 seconds between exercises
  • Each workout should take less than 40 minutes
Workout A (Upper Body)
Exercise Sets x Reps
Seated cable row 2 x 13–15
One-arm lat pull-down (YouTube link) 2 x 13–15
Push-up on knees or on stability ball 2 x 13–15
Barbell overhead press 2 x 13–15
Cable face pull 2 x 13–15
Triceps rope push-down 2 x 13–15
EZ-bar curl 2 x 13–15
Cable twist (YouTube link) 2 x 13–15
Front plank 2 x 45–60 s
s = seconds
Workout B (Lower Body)
Exercise Sets x Reps
Barbell front squat (wear loop band around thighs if available) 2 x 13–15
Dumbbell lunge 2 x 13–15
Barbell Romanian deadlift 2 x 13–15
Barbell hip thrust 2 x 13–15
Seated or lying leg curl 2 x 13–15
Lying leg and hip raise 2 x 15–20
Bicycle crunch 2 x 20–25
Lying alternating straight leg raise (YouTube link) 2 x 20–25
Standing dumbbell one-leg calf raise (YouTube link) 2 x 20–25

Microcycle 4: 3-day split (3 weeks)

  • For microcycle 4, you will perform a 3-day split in which you will train your back, biceps, and core in Workout A; your chest, shoulders, triceps, and core in Workout B; and your legs and glutes in Workout C
  • Recommended workout schedules: ABCXABX (then start from C the next week) or ABCX (i.e. three days on, one day off)
  • Rest for only 20–30 seconds between sets
  • Rest for only 60–90 seconds between exercises
  • Each workout should take less than 40 minutes
Workout A (Back, biceps, core)
Exercise Sets x Reps
Barbell sumo deadlift 2 x 12–14
Assisted pull-up 2 x 12–14
Cable twisting one-arm row (YouTube link) 2 x 12–14
Dumbbell curl 2 x 12–14
Dumbbell side bend 2 x 15–20
Lying side hip raise 2 x 15–20
Bicycle crunch 2 x 25–30
Wheel rollout 2 x 10–15
Workout B (Chest, shoulders, triceps, core)
Exercise Sets x Reps
Standing cable chest press (YouTube link) 2 x 12–14
Dumbbell one-arm overhead press 2 x 12–14
Dumbbell bent-over lateral raise 2 x 12–14
Cable face pull 2 x 12–14
Diamond push-up on knees (YouTube link) 2 x 12–14
Cable wood chop (YouTube link) 2 x 12–14
Captain’s chair leg and hip raise (or hanging variation) 2 x 12–14
Lying alternating straight leg raise (YouTube link) 2 x 25–30
Workout C (Legs, glutes)
Exercise Sets x Reps
Barbell sumo squat (YouTube link) 2 x 12–14
Dumbbell Bulgarian split squat 2 x 12–14
Weighted one-leg hip thrust (YouTube link) 2 x 12–14
Smith machine kneeling rear kick (YouTube link) 2 x 12–14
Seated or lying leg curl 2 x 12–14
Cable hip abduction (YouTube link) 2 x 15–20
Cable hip adduction (YouTube link) 2 x 15–20
Machine standing calf raise 2 x 20–25

Medical disclaimer

Just to be safe, please consult your doctor before starting the beginner training program for women. WeightTraining.guide will not be liable for any incidental, consequential, or other damages arising from the application of the information presented on this website.


13 Comments

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  • Thanks for adding a women’s guide! I began with the men’s a couple of weeks ago. I was out of town and saw this update just now. Excited to start this 🙂

    • You’re welcome, Liz.

      I have tried very hard to ensure that the programs are balanced, safe, engaging, and effective. I hope that they help you and many others to achieve your health and fitness goals.

      As you will notice, many of the exercises in the tables do not currently link to an exercise description. I must wait for the exercise illustrations to be created by my designer. Until then, please use YouTube to learn how to perform the exercises in proper form.

      Regards,

      Edward

  • Hi Edward,

    Really nice your workouts. Have a first question though…For the microcycle 1 beginners, there are no #reps indicated. Should be 15-18 too?
    Really cool the pictures… by now, my favorite site with anatomical explanations.
    GOOD JOB FOR YOU AND YOUR TEAM!
    Thank you for sharing,
    Tony

      • Hi, Tony.

        Thank you for the kind words! 🙂

        Yes, for the first week, complete 15 to 18 bodyweight squats instead of the dumbbell sumo squat.

        I hope you benefit from the program and it prepares you well for the more advanced programs!

        By the way, I have no team; it’s just me!

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