Have you ever wondered if your current training plan is as effective as it could be? Generally, most workout plans for women forget some fundamentally important key areas, which include:
- Resistance phases / Advanced training variables
- Understanding energy requirements
- Correct exercise type & focus
But firstly, the single most important question – what are your goals? A woman who is training for a fitness or physique competition will need to train differently compared with a woman training for a power-lifting competition.
For the sake of this blog, I’m going to discuss the most effective workout plan for women wanting to drop body fat, build strength, add muscle definition & generally tone up!
Resistance Phases & Advanced Training Variables
Women generally have more slow-twitch muscle fibers than men & are more resistant to fatigue. For this reason, it’s essential that women are cycling in aerobic-based endurance phases with higher repetitions.
These can be cycled every 4-8 weeks with hypertrophy & strength-based training, see below for an example:
- Hypertrophy Phase (4 weeks) – Sets: 3 Reps: 8-12 Rest: 60 seconds
- Strength Phase (4 weeks) – Sets: 1-5 Reps: 3-6 Rest: 2-3 minutes
- Endurance Phase (4 weeks) – Sets: 3-5 Reps: 12-21 Rest: 30 seconds
Adding in advanced training variables like drop-sets into a hypertrophy phase can also produce a greater stimulus on the muscle fibers & force more growth. Women are also capable of training higher in volume than men, due to the higher anti-catabolic estrogen hormone levels.
A suitable resistance based workout plan will also include at least 1 HIIT session per week. This will be a time you can focus solely on fat loss & targeting your aerobic energy system. This example workout can be found in some of my previous workout blogs:
- Day 1 Legs (Posterior): Barbell Squats, Stiff-Legged-Deadlifts, Barbell Deadlifts, Leg Press (high feet position), Lying Leg Curls (machine), Seated Calf Raise (machine)
- Day 2 Shoulders / Arms: Standing Military Press, Dumbbell Lateral Raise, Triceps Pushdown, Rear Delt Raise, Bench Dips, Seated Dumbbell Curl, Barbell Curl
- Day 3 Chest / Back: Bench Press, Incline Dumbbell Chest Flys, Wide Grip Lat Pulldown, Bent Over Barbell Row, Straight-Arm Pulldown
- Day 4 Lower Body (Anterior): Barbell Front Squats, Walking Dumbbell Lunges, Leg Press (low feet position), Hack Squats, Leg Extensions
- Day 5 Abs / Core: Russian Twist, Air Bike, Hanging Leg Raise, Plank, Cable Crunch, Toe Touchers, Swiss Ball Crunch
- Day 6 HIIT: Hill Sprints (1 minute 100% Intensity, 30 seconds 30% intensity) 15-minute session
- Day 7 Rest
Understanding Energy Requirements For Your Workout
An effective workout for women will involve adequate sources of energy intake for fuelling your workouts & optimizing post-workout recovery. Although nutrient timing shouldn’t be considered your top priority, your overall (TDEE) Total Daily Energy Expenditure should be understood.
In general, you will want to be consuming a carb/protein source meal within 1-2 hours pre & post-workout. And a fast-acting protein source like WPI has also been shown to effectively aid muscle protein synthesis in a post-workout shake.
To learn how to calculate your energy requirements, you can see this post.
Having an effective workout program will require sufficient calories coming from quality macro-nutrient sources to ensure positive body composition changes. Below is a list of quality macro-nutrient sources:
Protein Sources: Lean Chicken Breast, Lean Beef, Eggs, Lean Mince, Fresh Fish
Carbohydrates Sources: Brown Rice, Oats, Sweet Potato, Yams, White Potato, Whole-Wheat Pasta
Fat Sources: Almonds, Avocado, Salmon, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Coconut Oil
Correct Exercise Type & Focus
There are so many different exercises out there, you only need to jump on Instagram or YouTube these days to find some innovative workout ideas. But I’m all about the basics when it comes to getting my client’s results. The basic compound exercises are often forgotten in the ever-growing, noisy fitness industry.
The reason I recommend compound based exercises to all my clients is because of the incredible advantages. Compound exercises like squats, deadlifts, military press, lunges, bench press allow higher levels of muscle activation & stimulus, producing a more effective workout.
Compound lifts will also help you build strength through a higher level of neurological adaptation. This includes an effective increase in stabilizing heavy weights & preventing injuries.
Isolation exercises are also great for targeting specific muscle groups, however, you still want to be focusing on compounds exercises. Especially at the start of your workout. In general, compound exercises will stimulate more muscle fibers and stimulate more muscle growth.
You can learn about a specific female based workout plan for building muscle, toning your body & burning fat in the 28 Day Mind & Body Challenge. I hope you’ve enjoyed!