The 7 Best Strength Training Exercises for Women

Target multiple muscle groups, increase strength, and build lean muscle with these 7 strength training exercises for women! A 30-minute strength training workout with a guided, follow-along video you can do at home with a set of dumbbells.

*If you’re having trouble seeing the video in this post, try turning off or pausing your ad-blocker. If you prefer, you can also view this workout: The 7 Best Strength Training Exercises For Women on YouTube here.

Previously seen on Nourish Move Love — we updated this post to include a full length, follow-along at home workout video.

Click Here To Jump to 7 Best Strength Training Exercises For Women Instructions

Strength training, weight training, resistance training — call it what you want but listen up LADIES, strength training is so important for women!

Strength training increases metabolism.

Strength training builds lean muscle.

Strength training effectively burns fat.

Have I convinced you that strength training is important for women yet?

If you want to learn more about the benefits of strength training, keep scrolling.

If you’re ready to grab a set of dumbbells, these 7 best strength training exercises for women are a great place to start!

weight training for women

This 30-minute home workout consists of 7 COMPOUND EXERCISES. Full body exercises that engage multiple muscle groups simultaneously. So you get an efficient, 30 minute workout.

These 7 dumbbell exercises hit the quads, hamstrings, glutes, biceps, triceps, back, shoulder AND core muscles.

Strength Training For Women: 30-Minute Home Workout

Target multiple muscle groups, increase strength, and build lean muscle with this 30-minute home workout.

Add this strength training workout to your fitness routine 1-2 times a week to bust through fitness plateaus and lose weight.

Workout Equipment

A medium-to-heavy set of dumbbells.

Or multiple sets of dumbbells if you wish to adjust weights throughout the workout. I recommend 8-20 pound dumbbells, depending on your fitness level.

I’m personally using 10 lb and 12 lb dumbbells in this workout video.

Workout Instructions 

Let me be your certified personal trainer for the day. Follow along with the 30-minute strength training video at the top of this post.

I’ll be sweating with you through each dumbbell strength exercise, providing form cues and motivation.

Alternatively, you can work off the 7 best strength training exercises outlined below (watch the video at the top of this post if you need a demonstration of these exercises).

Perform each exercise for 45 seconds, then take 15 seconds rest before moving on to the next exercise. Once you complete all 7 exercises, take a 1 minute rest. Repeat x 3 sets.

the 7 Best Strength Training Exercises for Women

The 7 Best Strength Training Exercises For Women

  1. Front Squat + Overhead Shoulder Press
  2. Alternating Reverse Lunge + Bicep Curl
  3. Sumo Squat + Upright Row
  4. Curtsy Lunge + L-Fly
  5. Plank + Row
  6. Glute Bridge + Tricep Extensions
  7. Glute Bridge Hold + Chest Press

Front Squat + Overhead Shoulder Press

Legs, shoulders and core! Squats are great for building glute strength, the foundation of your lower body and muscles you use daily as you sit down and stand up — legs, butt, thighs, hamstrings and quad.

Add an overhead shoulder press to build upper body strength; strengthening the rotator cuff muscles and anterior deltoid. An effective total body exercise.

Front Squat + Overhead Shoulder Press

Alternating Reverse Lunge + Bicep Curl

Reverse lunges are a great unilateral leg exercise targeting the power generating muscles in the lower body — quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes.

Add a bicep curl to strengthen both heads of the upper arm (the bicep muscles).

Reverse Lunge and Bicep Curl

Sumo Squat + Upright Row

Sumo squats work the glutes, quadriceps and inner thighs (or adductors). Upright rows work the upper trapezius, deltoids and biceps.

Pair sumo squats with dumbbell upright rows and you have a compound exercise that builds muscle in both the lower body and the upper body.

Sculpt and tone your arms, legs and inner thighs with this multi-functional exercise.

Sumo Squat and Upright Row

Curtsy Lunge + L-Fly

Similar to a standard reverse lunge, the curtsy lunge works the quads and glutes. But adding the curtsy, when your leg crosses back and around, requires the hip abductors to work as well.

Add an L-Fly Lateral raises incorporates the medial or middle deltoid shoulder muscle as well. Another legs and shoulders exercise.

Curtsy Lunge and L-Fly

Plank + Row

Plank and row, also known as a renegade row, is an effective way to build muscle definition in the arms and abs. Simultaneously building upper back strength and core strength.

This multi-functional exercise will challenge your core strength. 

Plank and Row

Glute Bridge + Tricep Extensions

Glute bridges are one of my favorite booty burning exercises, targeting the gluteus maximus, thighs, hips, core, and hamstrings. And they are kind on joints; I always recommend them to people with lower body injuries and knee pain.

And tricep extensions are one of the best arm exercises for building tricep muscles.

This multi-functional, full body exercise is a great way to tighten and tone the legs and back of the arms; two common ‘trouble areas’ for women.

Glute Bridge and tricep extensions

Glute Bridge Hold + Chest Press

Holding a glute bridge is a great way to increase the time under tension of muscles and isolate the gluteus maximus, thighs, hips, and hamstrings.

Add a chest press, an arm exercise with dumbbells for building upper body strength; targeting the chest or pectoralis major muscles.

This compound exercise is a great way to build lower body and chest strength (legs and chest). It’s also a great alternative to squats and push ups. 

Glute Bridge and Chest Press

What are the benefits of weight training for women?

  • Reduce risk of fitness plateaus. Strength training never plateaus as you are always striving to increase weights as you get stronger.
  • Weight loss and fat loss. As lean muscle increases, so does resting metabolism. In other words, muscle burns fat. The more muscle you have the more calories you burn.
  • Increased strength (without getting ‘bulky’). Women getting ‘bulky’ from strength training is a fitness myth. Lifting weights will NOT make you bulky — just stronger!

What is the importance of strength training for women specifically?

Strength training is truly for everyone, but especially important for women! I’m an advocate for strength training exercises for many reasons, but two of the main reasons include:

  1. Weight training helps women see the ‘toned’ results they’re striving for. Building muscle through weight training is important to moving through everyday activities and injury prevention. This is even more important as we age. A statistic that absolutely blew me away — we start losing muscle mass at AGE 30 (Harvard).
  2. Women in particular are prone to neglecting strength training. This impacts their daily lives and can impact them long term. 80% of Americans diagnosed with osteoporosis are women, and strength training is one of the ways we know we can increase bone density (Time)!

What are the benefits of weight training for women?

Is it safe to strength train during pregnancy?

In general, yes! Strength training is the name of the game for prenatal workouts. 

That said, I always recommend chatting with your doctor or midwife about what level of exercise may be appropriate for your body and your pregnancy. As always, you know your body best, and it’s especially important that you listen to what feels good to you during pregnancy.

Strength training can provide so many benefits for both mom and baby.

For example, benefits of resistance training during pregnancy include healthy weight gain, reduced risk of gestational diabetes and preeclampsia, and better psychological wellbeing (Strength and Conditioning Journal).

Plus, Parents Magazine says lifting weights is one of the best ways to reduce pregnancy aches and pains.

Strength training is a low impact way to stay active, which is why I especially love it for prenatal and postpartum fitness.

In fact, we originally filmed this workout in my second trimester of my pregnancy with Brody (note my baby bump in the photos above). Then we re-shot this workout with a follow-along video when I was 6 months postpartum after Bella, my second child.

Pin this Workout: 30-Minute Weight Training For Women

30-minute strength training workout

More Strength Training Workouts for Women:

*And if you’re pregnant my most popular prenatal workout is this Strength Training for Pregnancy: 30-Minute Pregnancy Workout Video.

8 comments
  1. I was skeptical at first, as I’m used to my videos! Well…I’m sold! A solid 30 breathless, sweaty minutes! Thank you!!

    • Shaun! So glad you were willing to give this workout a try and liked it! It sure does give you a total body burn in 30 minutes! Thanks so much for sharing and I hope you Pin this one to your workout boards and come back for more! -Lindsey

  2. Thank you SO much for sharing these simple moves/workouts Lindsay! I really like how simple you make them and how you incorporate movement into lifting weights.

    • Emily! I’m so glad you love these 7 exercises as much as I do! Thanks so much for your feedback and I hope you add this one to your ‘workout’ Pinterest board or weekly routine. Thanks Emily and have a great week, xo-Lindsey

    • Laura! I’m so glad you love this workout as much as I do! And seriously I lived in that sweater during my second trimester, so cute + comfy! Thanks for sharing and awesome work! xo-Lindsey

  3. I can’t wait to try this workout! I just found out I’m pregnant (yay!) and been reading a lot about exercising during pregnancy. Do you have any tips of what to focus on/avoid? I read that you should not do workouts on your stomach or back. Are these bridge workouts safe?

    • Sandi! Congrats on your pregnancy — that’s so exciting!!! Honestly, my best tip for exercising while pregnant is to listen to your body! If you’ve been active stick to your normal routine (it will help you feel more normal too) and just listen to your body, pull back and modify when needed. I didn’t really start adjusting my workout routine till around 20 weeks and I slowly started modifying and now in the third trimester I’m doing lots of modifying. But pregnancy is so different for everyone so just listen to your body (it will tell you what it likes and doesn’t), stay hydrated and just try and keep moving! I stopped doing exercises on my stomach after 12 weeks, but I still do some stuff on my back if it feels ok. The main thing with bridges on your back is more when you’re at the end of second/beginning of third trimester and you want baby to be head down and doing bridges can confuse babies positioning. Again your body will tell you what it likes and doesn’t like! Hope that helps and happy #fitpregnancy! xo-Lindsey