The best strength and HIIT home workout for women — 9 killer dumbbell exercises in a challenging, full body workout. Get all the benefits of strength training and HIIT workouts for women in one effective, 35-minute home workout!
It’s a HIIT workout I come back to time and time again when I need a solid, total body workout at home.
What makes this HIIT workout ‘the best home workout for women’?
EFFICIENT. Nine full body exercises that build muscle and burn fat simultaneously. Hitting EVERY muscle in your entire body — from the legs, butt and thighs to the arms, chest, back, abs and core!
SCALABLE. Fun fact, I originally filmed this home workout when I was 6 months postpartum with Brody (see the picture below). It’s tough, but scaleable. We’ve included follow along modifications for ALL fitness levels in the workout video above. Make this a low impact HIIT workout by following Rachel in the workout video and perform as many reps as you can in the allotted timed intervals. HIIT workouts can be tailored to your experience level and the equipment you have available if you work out at home.
ENGAGING TIME INTERVAL TRAINING (time drop format). Short bursts of targeted exercises to exhaust each muscle group. But the work time decreases and rest time increases as you move through the workout; attainable work to rest ratios.
I’ll be honest, this is an advanced HIIT workout for women (but you can follow Rachel, the modifier in the home workout video above, for the beginner HIIT workout for women version of this workout).
But this HIIT workout for women delivers results.
According to the American College of Sports Medicine, HIIT workouts can burn more calories per minute of exercise than aerobic training (like jogging, swimming or cycling) does, making it the better cardio option when you’re short on time.
The Best Strength + HIIT Home Workout for Women
My GO-TO strength training and HIIT home workout for women:
Dumbbell Strength Training AND Bodyweight HIIT Training for Women
This HIIT workout combines functional strength training with heart-pumping cardio to make an EFFECTIVE home workout — perfect for the busy woman and moms.
Medium set of dumbbells.
I recommend anything from 5-20 lbs. I’m using 15 lb dumbbells in this workout video.
Here’s how HIIT works: you alternate fast, intense periods of exercise with short rest periods. In this HIIT workout the work time decreases with each set:
SET 1: 45 seconds work, 15 seconds rest, per exercise.
SET 2: 40 seconds work, 20 seconds rest, per exercise.
SET 3: 30 seconds work, 30 seconds rest, per exercise.
Therefore, you’ll repeat each HIIT exercise x 3 sets.
This is approximately a 30-minute home workout. (But I’ve also included a warm up, with exercises like jumping jacks, mountain climbers and high knees; and cool down stretches in the workout video at the top of this post. Making this home workout for women closer to a 35-40 minute home workout).
Single Arm Dumbbell Snatch + Overhead Reverse Lunge, Right Leg
Single Arm Dumbbell Snatch + Overhead Reverse Lunge, Left Leg
Split Lunge Jumps
Sumo Squat + Bicep Curl
Plyo Squat Jack
Lying Tricep Extensions + Glute Bridge
Dumbbell Overhead Pull + Leg Lift
1. Single Arm Dumbbell Snatch + Overhead Reverse Lunge (perform on right leg and left leg)
Targets: The single arm dumbbell snatch is a powerful full body strength exercise with an emphasis on the legs, shoulders and back. Paired with an overhead reverse lunge which not only builds strength but improves stability in the shoulder muscles, posterior chain and entire lower body.
Modification: Front rack dumbbell for the reverse lunge rather than having arm/dumbbell extend overhead.
How to do Single Arm Dumbbell Snatch + Overhead Reverse Lunge:
Start standing, feet hip width apart, shoulders stacked over hips, dumbbell between your feet. Hinge at hips and slightly bend your knees to reach for the dumbbell. Grab the dumbbell with your right hand.
Drive through your heels to stand tall as you press your hips forward and pull the dumbbell up the center of your body; using the power of your legs to drive the dumbbell overhead as you return to standing. Think of “zipping up” your body with the dumbbell.
With your right arm extended, bicep by ear, hold the dumbbell overhead as your step your right leg back into a reverse lunge. Dropping your back right knee towards the ground, aiming for both knees to reach 90 degree angles (front thigh parallel to the floor).
Push through your front, left leg to return to standing, and lower the dumbbell back down the center of your body.
Return to the starting position and repeat this powerful, complex full body exercises for the timed interval.
*Note, you’ll repeat this on the other side (left arm and left leg), as move two of this home workout for women.
2. Split Lunge Jumps
Targets: Split jumps or lunge jumps are a classic high intensity interval training (HIIT) exercise that target the power generating muscles in the lower body — legs, butt, quads, hip flexors and calves. Build strength and burn fat with this powerful lower body exercise.
Modification: Step back lunges or 2-pulse step back reverse lunges.
How to do Split Lunge Jumps:
Stand with feet hip-distance apart, shoulders stacked over hips.
Jump your right leg back into a reverse lunge position; dropping your back right knee towards the ground as you lower your hips until both knees reach a 90 degree angle; front thigh parallel to the floor.
Drive through your front, left leg to explode up as you switch legs in the air. Jumping your left leg back into a reverse lunge. Land softy in a bent knee lunge.
Repeat this explosive movement for the timed interval.
3. Push Ups
Targets: Chest, triceps, shoulders, core and abs. Push ups are a classic bodyweight exercise for building upper body strength; a fast and effective way build muscle definition in the arms and abs.
Start in high plank position with your shoulders stacked over your wrists, weight evenly distributed amongst all 10 fingers. Pull your kneecaps up towards your belly.
Hold this position, maintaining a straight line with your body, gaze slightly in front of you.
Slowly lower your chest down towards the ground as your elbows fall back towards the body. Maintain a straight line with your body — head, chest and legs in one straight line.
Once at the bottom of your push up, exhale as you push back up into high plank position.
4. Sumo Squat + Bicep Curl
Targets: Legs, glutes, quadriceps, outer and inner thighs (abductors and adductors), arms and biceps.
Modification: Option to alternate arms on the bicep curl.
How to do Sumo Squat + Bicep Curl:
Stand with feet wider than hips, heels in and toes pointed out (sumo squat stance). Hold one dumbbell in each hand at your hips, palms facing out away from your body.
Bend your knees to lower down into a sumo squat, pushing your knees out towards your pinky toes as you drop your hips parallel to your knees. As you sit back into your sumo squat.
Pause for a moment at the bottom of your sumo squat, then drive through your heels, squeezing your glutes and inner thighs to return to standing. As you return to standing, curl the dumbbells up towards your shoulders (palms facing shoulders), keeping elbows in towards your sides.
5. Plyo Squat Jack
Targets: Plyo squat jacks are the plyometric version of sumo squats, targeting the lower body — legs, butt, quads, outter and inner thighs. Bodyweight squat jacks are a great HIIT exercise to build lower body strength, specifically for the inner thighs, while also raising your heart rate to burn fat.
Modification: Side-to-side sumo squat jacks or tap downs.
How to do Plyo Squat Jacks:
Start in a standing position feet hip-width apart, core engaged, shoulders over hips.
“Jumping jack” your feet out wide as you drop your butt back into a wide squat. Aim to bring your hands to touch the ground if that’s available to you.
Explosively stand tall, squeezing your inner thighs to “jumping jack” your legs back together, and return to standing as your arms rotate overhead. Think, wide at the bottom, narrow at the top.
6. Tricep Extensions + Glute Bridge
Targets: Lying tricep extensions, also known as skull crushers, are one of the best arm exercises for building tricep muscles (along the back of the arms). While glute bridges are one of the most effective lower body exercises to tone the glutes and the hamstrings. This is a great full body exercise to help women tone and build lean muscle.
Modification: You can always perform this exercise from a stability ball or bench. If lying on your back isn’t available to you you can perform standing bent over tricep kick backs.
How to do Lying Tricep Extensions + Glute Bridge:
Lie flat on the ground, knees bent at 90 degrees.
Hold one dumbbell in each hand and extend your arms so the dumbbells are directly overhead (palms facing one another).
Squeeze your glutes and drive through your heels to lift your hips off the mat, performing a glute bridge.
Then bending at the elbows slowly lower the dumbbells towards your head (just bending at the elbows, lowering the dumbbells towards your temples). As you lower the dumbbells, simultaneously lower your hips back towards the mat.
Then press the dumbbells back overhead as you lift your hips high to return to the starting position.
7. Dumbbell Overhead Pull + Leg Lift
Targets: The dumbbell pullover strengthens the upper back muscles as well as stabilizes the core. Paired with a leg lift to activate both the transverse abdominis, rectus abdominis, and lower abs.
Modification: Lower and lift one leg at a time, or bend your knees to shorten the “lever”.
How to do Dumbbell Overhead Pull + Leg Lift:
Start lying on your back, core engaged so your lower back is pressed into the mat. Legs straight overhead (advanced) or knees bent at a 90 degree angle (modification). Hold one dumbbell horizontally between your hands, palms facing in towards each other.
Alternate lowering your legs, lowering one or both heels towards the ground. As you lower the legs, lower the dumbbell overhead, arms extended overhead.
Squeeze your back muscles (lats) to pull the dumbbell back overhead to starting position as you simultaneously pull your extended leg back overhead to meet the dumbbell.
Targets: A common HIIT exercise that targets EVERY muscle in your entire body — from the arms, chest, and back to the legs, glutes and core! Burpees are a sure fire way to spike your heart rate; burning anywhere from 10-15 calories per minute of work.
Modification: Make this a low impact HIIT exercise by stepping back to plank and stepping into a loaded squat instead of jumping. Option to omit the chest lower and hold plank or add a push up from your knees. You can always make this exercise a little easier by adding an incline, placing your hands on a chair or bench.
How to do Burpees:
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, arms at your sides.
Bend your knees and drop your hips as you lower into a squat.
Place your hands on the floor directly in front of your feet.
Shift your weight into your hands as you jump your feet back to softly land on the balls of your feet in a high plank position. Your body should form a straight line from your head to heels.
Elbows fall back towards your body as you lower your chest towards the ground, bringing your chest to meet the floor (optional). Press back up and return to high plank.
Jump your feet up towards the outside of your hands, landing in a loaded squat position.
Then drive through your legs to explode up, performing a jumping squat. Jumping into the air with arms extended overhead.
Land softly and repeat.
HIIT Workouts for Women FAQ’S:
Strength training or high intensity interval training (HIIT)?
Studies show that people who include both weight training and cardio exercises (like HIIT) in their weekly exercise routine have the best overall results in terms of weight loss, strength and cardio endurance.
And that’s exactly what you get in this best strength and HIIT home workout for women:
Get the muscle building benefits of strength training
AND the calorie burning benefits of HIIT training
Do HIIT workouts burn belly fat?
Like weight training, HIIT sessions increases post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) — a period of time after exercise where the body is using more energy to restore itself to pre-exercise levels.
So yes, HIIT workouts burn calories, including fat, both during and after the workout.
How many times per week should you do HIIT workouts?
This all depends on your fitness goals, but I would suggest two to three HIIT workouts per week (depending on the intensity). Both lifting weights and HIIT workouts place stress on the body and require recovery time.