women - strength training and toning workout

by Jason Stallworth

November 16, 2020

Are you ready to get stronger and shape your body at the same time?

In this post, you’re going to get a complete workout routine that’s going to help you increase your strength. These workouts will also help tone and shape your muscles.

I must warn you, the workouts are going to be tough. But so are you! And you’re going to love the results you see and the way you feel.

This workout routine is for women who want to:

  • Build strength and lean muscle
  • Shape and tone your muscles
  • Increase your endurance and conditioning 
  • Keep your body looking lean and strong
  • Look and feel awesome

You may want to mix up your pre-workout drink because you’re going to be motivated to hit the gym after reading this!

Your New Workout Plan

This is going to be a 4-day per week weight training routine. You’ll have two upper body workouts and two lower body workouts. You’ll see in the training splits below how your workout days are alternated.

I’m also going to give you a cardio routine after we go over your weight training workouts. You can do your cardio after your workouts or on your rest days.

Let’s take a look at a couple of training splits for this routine…

Training Split – Example 1

This is great for you if you prefer a Monday through Friday schedule with weekends off.

  • Monday: Upper Body Workout 1
  • Tuesday: Lower Body Workout 1
  • Wednesday: Rest
  • Thursday: Upper Body Workout 2
  • Friday: Lower Body Workout 2
  • Saturday: Rest
  • Sunday: Rest

Training Split – Example 2

Below is another example that caters to the weekends (giving you more rest days during the week). 

  • Saturday: Upper Body Workout 1
  • Sunday: Lower Body Workout 1
  • Monday: Rest
  • Tuesday: Upper Body Workout 2
  • Wednesday: Rest
  • Thursday: Lower Body Workout 2
  • Friday: Rest

You can change this to fit your schedule. A good rule is to take at least 1 rest day after 2 workout days, but do not rest for more than 2 days in a row. 

The Workout Methods You’ll Be Using

All workouts cater to increasing both strength and conditioning. This will help build lean muscle and will burn more calories than traditional workouts.

There are two primary methods you’ll be using.

  1. Supersetting opposing muscles
  2. Alternating different types of training

Supersets and Opposing Muscles Explained

A superset is going from one exercise to another with no or minimal rest between sets. But there’s more…

In this routine, you’ll be supersetting opposing muscles (agonist with antagonist muscles). These methods combined are what helps increase your strength, conditioning, and endurance. You’ll also build muscle and burn fat in the same workout using this method.

Here’s how supersetting opposing muscles works in this training plan:

  • In each workout, you will see ‘S1 or S2…’ – that means you’re supersetting those 2 exercises.
  • In other words, you’ll do a set of the ‘S1’ exercise and immediately do a set of the ‘S2’ exercise.
  • Then you will rest for about 45 seconds to a minute and perform another round.
  • You’ll continue this until you perform the total sets listed for those exercises.

If the workout states ‘3’ for sets by those exercises, you will do this:

  • Exercise 1
  • Exercise 2 (immediately after 1)
  • Rest for 45 seconds

That will count as 1 set. And you’ll repeat 2 more time.

Alternating Strength and Toning Workouts

The first two workouts are focused on building strength and conditioning. You’ll be using some challenging weights to build strength. The condition part comes in by the methods we just discussed (supersetting opposing muscles).

The second set of workouts will have you using the same cadence but with higher repetitions. This will help you burn more calories and add more shape to your muscles

Your workouts will look like this:

  • Upper Body Workout 1: Strength and Conditioning
  • Lower Body Workout 1: Strength and Conditioning
  • Upper Body Workout 2: Toning and Endurance
  • Lower Body Workout 2: Toning and Endurance 

Each workout should take about 30 minutes.

Workout Tips

  • Make sure you feel your muscles working throughout each rep; don’t just go through the motions of moving the weight from point A to B.
  • Always start with a lighter weight, and move up a little each set. The first set (or round of supersets) shouldn’t exhaust you. But by the time you get to the last set of supersets, you should feel the burn. 
  • Make sure you have at least 10 grams of protein with some slow-digesting carbs in your body prior to your workout and no sugary carbs.

Now let’s go over each workout…

Upper Body Workout 1

ExerciseSetsReps
Shoulder Press – S1310
Seated Rows – S1310
Chest Press (or Bench Press) – S2310
Lat Pulldowns – S2310
Dumbbell Curls – S3310
Cable Pressdowns – S3310

Notes:

  • The ‘Press’ exercises can be machines or free weights (ex: shoulder press = overhead barbell press, chest press = bench press)
  • S1 – First round of supersets is between shoulder press and seated rows (ex: 1 superset = 1 set of shoulder press followed by 1 set of seated rows followed by 45 second rest before doing the 2nd Superset)
  • S2 – Second round of supersets is between chest press and lat pulldowns, same as above
  • S3 – The last round of supersets is for arms. Superset dumbbell curls (you can do these seated or standing) with cable pressdowns (this is where you have the bar on the cable machine and press down in front of you, making your triceps do the work) 

Lower Body Workout 1

ExerciseSetsReps
Squats – S1410
Lying Leg Curls – S1410
Leg Press – S2412
Romanian (or stiff-leg) Deadlifts – S2412
Calve Raises415
Ab Exercise (any)312

Notes:

  • This workout will consist of more volume (4 sets instead of 3) as this is what leg muscles respond to best. 
  • S1 – First round of supersets is between squats and leg curls. You can choose any leg curl machine that’s available (seat, standing, lying). For squats, I prefer you to do free weight squats. 
  • S2 – Second round of supersets is between leg press and leg extensions, same as above. Also note the reps increase for these (from 12 to 15). 
  • Calve raises can be done on any calve machine (standing, seated). No supersets here, but make sure you feel the burn on each rep. 
  • At the end, choose any ab exercise and do 3 sets with only 30 seconds of rest between those sets

Upper Body Workout 2

ExerciseSetsReps
Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press – S1312
Dumbbell Rows – S1312
Incline Dumbbell Flyes – S2315
Reverse Pec-Dec (or bent over raises) – S2315
Preacher Curls – S3312
Seated Overhead Dumbbell Extensions – S3312

Notes:

  • You will notice more dumbbell and isolation exercises in this workout as opposed to the first upper body workout. The reps are also increasing. This workout is focused on toning the muscles and igniting the fat burning process. 
  • S1 – First round of supersets is between seat dumbbell shoulder press and dumbbell rows 
  • S2 – Second round of supersets is between incline dumbbell flyes and lat reverse pec-dec (this is for rear delts/shoulders – you can also do bent-over raises, which is similar to lateral raises with dumbbells, but you perform them bent forward so that you can target the back of your shoulders)
  • S3 – You will superset preacher curls (use the machine or free weights with the cambered bar) with seated overhead dumbbell extensions (this is where you hold a dumbbell over your head and lower the dumbbell behind your head, and press back up – works a different able of the triceps than the exercise you do in the first upper body workout)

Lower Body Workout 2

ExerciseSetsReps
Squats – S1415
Seated Leg Curls – S1415
Leg Extensions – S2415
Dumbbell Lunges – S2415
Calve Raises415
Ab Exercise (any)312

Notes:

  • The reps will increase here from the first lower body workout. 
  • S1 – First round of supersets is between leg extensions and stiff-leg deadlifts. Do stiff-leg deadlifts with dumbbells as this will put less stress on your lower back and you can get a better stretch. 
  • S2 – Second round of supersets is between leg press and squats with just your body weight. For leg press, this time you will perform the exercise with your feet closer together. This targets a different part of your leg muscles than the normal leg press you performed for the first lower body workout. 
  • Calve raises can be done on any calve machine (standing, seated)
  • At the end, choose any ab exercise and do 3 sets with only 30 seconds of rest between those sets

Cardio Plan

Make a goal to do some type of cardio exercise at least 4 days per week. Even if it’s just taking a walk outside (or on the treadmill).

Here are some tips that will help you stay on track with cardio:

  • If you’re doing cardio on your weight training days, either right after your weight training workout or another time apart from your workout.
  • If you prefer to do cardio on your non-weight training days, do at least one more session on one of your weight training days (since you only have three rest days).
  • You can also alternate your cardio days (do cardio on a couple of rest days and again on a couple of training days). This can help break up your week a little more.

Here’s an example of a cardio schedule if you were going with the first training split that we went over in the weight training workout section:

  • Monday: Upper Body Workout 1 – 20-30 minutes of cardio
  • Tuesday: Lower Body Workout 1
  • Wednesday: Rest – 30-40 minutes of cardio
  • Thursday: Upper Body Workout 2 – 20-30 minutes of cardio
  • Friday: Lower Body Workout 2
  • Saturday: Rest – 30-40 minutes of cardio
  • Sunday: Rest

You may decide you want to do some type of cardio every day of the week, and that’s fine. In fact, I’m a big believer in doing something active every day.

Push Yourself Beyond Your Limits

Lastly, I want to encourage you to really push yourself in the gym. You can go a lot further than you think!

Just by reading this, I assume you’ve already made weight training part of your lifestyle. If not, then there’s no greater time to start than today!

I’d also like to leave you with a few additional resources that will help you get better results and make your workouts more efficient. Each link will take you to another blog post on this site telling you more about the resource:

  • Consider taking a pre-workout for energy and mental focus, like PreFierce.
  • Consider taking a fat burner that has natural ingredients to help you get toned faster, like Instant Knockout.
  • Get a recipe guide for lean muscle that takes the guess-work out of meal prep, like Anabolic Cooking.

I truly hope this post helps motivate you to get in the gym and train hard!

Train with Passion,

Jason