Women’s beginner program

Beginner training program for women

Description

The 12-week women’s 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.

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

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 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 15–20
Dumbbell curl 13–15
Standing dumbbell one-leg calf raise 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 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 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 2 x 20–25
Standing dumbbell one-leg calf raise 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
Seated twisting cable row 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 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 2 x 12–14
Cable wood chop 2 x 12–14
Captain’s chair leg and hip raise (or hanging variation) 2 x 12–14
Lying alternating straight leg raise 2 x 25–30
Workout C (Legs, glutes)
Exercise Sets x Reps
Barbell sumo squat 2 x 12–14
Dumbbell Bulgarian split squat 2 x 12–14
Weighted one-leg hip thrust 2 x 12–14
Smith machine kneeling rear kick 2 x 12–14
Seated or lying leg curl 2 x 12–14
Cable hip abduction 2 x 15–20
Cable hip adduction 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.


32 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!

    • Hi, Helena. You must use a weight that makes the reps challenging. For example, when doing the barbell hip thrust in Microcycle 3 (2 x 13–15), use a weight that will make the 13–15 reps challenging. If you can’t do 13 reps, the weight is too heavy; if you can easily do 15 reps, the weight is too light. I hope that makes sense.

  • Hello Edward!!!!
    Greetings from Mumbai!!
    I’m excited and looking forward to start this program…loved the way it’s split into 3 weeks each and I can’t wait to see a transformation in just 12 weeks. I wanted to get into a disciplined weight training routine as my resolution this year (Happy New Years btw!!!) but I wanted proper guidance and this seems the best, well structured, simplest and easy to follow :)) Will post my progress and shall definitely come back for the advanced program once I’ve completed this..

    • Hi, Samia.

      Thank you for the kind words! I hope the programs help you, as they have so many other people. Don’t forget the importance of good nutrition, and please read the overview before you start the programs. 🙂

  • I thank you sooo much for this program! Loving it! Already losing weight! Can’t wait to start the maximum curves program! 😀 xxx

    • You’re welcome, Frenchy. LOVE hearing from people like you who are benefiting. Please keep me updated on your progress. 🙂

  • I’ve been using your women’s programs since fall 2017 and am very happy (I started on MCFS2 since I already had a good level). Two of my good friends are now getting started as well and of course I recommended them this beginner program, though I did suggest some modifications; mainly, I recommend all beginners start with goblet squats because from research these appear to teach good posture and form for the squat while providing sufficient resistance for a beginner. The remaining modifications are mostly due to what we have and don’t have in equipment at our gym.

    • Hi, Laura.

      It’s always encouraging to hear feedback like yours. Thank you for the kind words. 🙂

      I hope your friends also benefit.

      Warm regards,

      Edward

  • Thank you so much for the wonderful program. I want to reduce my wt and fat also.I already reduced 15 kg and have to reduce 10-15 more. I am regular to gym. l have started this program from today.
    I have a questions,1. If I am doing circuit training on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, can I do cardio on Tuesday and Thursday.
    2. Before starting circuit is it ok to do 20 min elliptical/ treadmill/ cycling.

    • Hi, Rashmi.

      Yes, you can incorporate your own cardio workouts. You can perform the cardio either on separate days (which is ideal) or after the circuit/weight training workouts (the more spaced apart they are, the better).

      Your main goal seems to be to lose weight. I highly recommend that you download the MyFitnessPal app to your phone and use it to count your calories. If you don’t count your calories, you will not be in control of your weight. Only counting calories will give you full control. Counting calories is a chore at first, but it gets much, much easier, and it’s worth the effort. Learn more in this blog post on my website.

      Good luck!

  • Hi, I started the program yesterday in the gym. But is it also possible to do the program in 2 sets for every exercise instead of a circuit?

    • Hi, Kat.

      Thank you for your question! 🙂

      Set training comes later, in the other programs. Circuit training must come first. This beginner program is designed to be carried out like a circuit. You will only be resting for 20 to 30 seconds, so you will be moving straight on to the next exercise and thus flying through each circuit. If you do set training, you will not be able to fly through the circuit.

      Please follow the instructions carefully to get the most out of the programs. 🙂

      Edward

  • Hi Edward!

    I started the program this week, after years without stepping in a gym, but I’m super excited!! Thank you for sharing all this information, your website is a great guide!!!
    My question is about the bodyweight squats, you see, after gaining some weight during pregnancy, I injured my knees as a consequence of having no strength on my tights at all, and now I just can’t execute any kind of squat (even seating down and standing up are challenges for me). So, what could I do, instead? Is there a kind of squat introduction?? 😬

    • Hi, Joanna.

      The bodyweight squat *is* the squat introduction! 😀

      The squat is arguably the most important exercise for functional fitness because it strengthens the squatting movement pattern, which you use several times a day (every time you sit down). I recommend that you ask for clearance from your doctor to do bodyweight squats. If clearance is not provided, you can ask for alternatives. Lunges are great too, activating nearly all of the same muscles and strengthening the lunging movement pattern, which is arguably as important as the squatting movement pattern. No other leg exercises are as important for functional fitness.

      Edward

      • Hi Edward!
        Thank you for explaining that!
        The doctor told me to do leg extensions until I feel strong enough for squatting. So I guess I’m gonna do that and try squats or lunges very slowly until I’m able to do them correctly for as many times the workout asks for them.
        Thank you again!!!

  • Hi love from India!!
    Seems really good & helpful.Today is my first day I will get started with it. I just had a question that like the first microcycle, I do all the exercises 15-18 reps & then go to the second one like medium grip & then repeat all the exercises again? And not do like the dumbell squats 15 reps do it 2 times and then go to the second exercise?

    • Hi, Agriya.

      For Microcycle 1, do all of the exercises one after the other. This is one circuit. Then, do all the exercises one after the other again. This will be your second circuit. Rest for only 20 to 30 seconds between exercises, and rest for 2 to 3 minutes before starting the second circuit. Complete 2 circuits per workout.

      Good luck, and keep me informed of your progress. 🙂

      Edward

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