Women and weight training: The definitive guide

Young woman weight training

By Ari Snaevarsson, Features Editor

Training age assumption

I want to preface this by mentioning that this is going to be advice tailored towards beginners. Now, I know you are not all rank novices, but this will still apply to most. Basically, if you have not been lifting consecutively for six months (or you have but have not seen marked progress in weight lifted), this will apply, so read on.

Word of caution

Before beginning any physical exercise regimen, please consult with your physician or other relevant medical professional. None of the tips below should be taken to constitute medical advice.

Your adjustable program:

This is going to be a three-day split, and you will be working out on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

For clarification: 2×5-6 should be read as (2 sets of 5 to 6 reps).


-Squat variation: 3×4-5

(i.e. goblet squats, barbell back squats, front squats)

-Hip hinge variation: 2×6-8

(i.e. barbell conventional/sumo/Romanian deadlift, kettlebell deadlift, good mornings)

-Vertical press variation: 3×6-8

(i.e. dumbbell/barbell shoulder press, incline chest press)

-Vertical pull variation: 3×4-5

(i.e. assisted pull-ups or cable lat pulldowns)


-Horizontal press variation: 3×4-5

(i.e. barbell or dumbbell bench press, push-ups, machine chest press)

-Horizontal pull variation: 3×6-8

(i.e. dumbbell rows or cable rows)

-Quadriceps isolation: 3×8-10

(i.e. seated leg extension)

-Hamstrings isolation: 3×8-10

(i.e. lying or seated leg curl)


-Hip hinge variation: 3×4-5

-Squat variation: 2×6-8

-Biceps exercise: 2×8-10

(i.e. dumbbell bicep curls, bicep machine)

-Triceps exercise: 2×8-10

(i.e. cable tricep extensions, tricep machine)

-Calf exercise (i.e. standing calf machine or calf raises on the leg press sled): 2×8-10


Can you only get into the gym two days a week?

That is perfectly fine. Simply merge the workouts how you see fit (you will end up with six exercises per workout).

Do these specific days not work for you?

Note there is no magic in going on Monday instead of Tuesday, for example; feel free to move this around. However, it would be prudent that you try your best to space them out with at least a day in between each, if at all possible.

Are you not physically capable of performing some of these exercises?

I will probably touch on this in greater depth in a future article, but for the time being, this is why I have left each exercise slot as some variation. If none of the included ones work for you, please feel free to look up some others that would.

Proper form

For any of these exercises, you would be benefitting yourself greatly by taking the time to watch videos from [respected] trainers on proper form. Take it from me; I have been lifting seriously for around four years, so I am at the point where I am getting 10 percent of my results from 90 percent of my effort (alas), but even still, having recently started focusing heavily on improving exercise form and cues, I have noticed marked gains, both aesthetically and strength-wise.


This may be performed on off days if you wish. Do not abuse this though; anything more than 30 minutes of cardio on all your off days is going to be ridiculously excessive. In fact, unless you legitimately enjoy the stationary cardio at the gym, I would prefer you stick to only doing cardio you enjoy (i.e. sports or hiking with friends or getting from McKnight to West in 10 minutes).


As you may have guessed from my previous articles, this is way too complex a subject matter for me to reasonably squish into one blurb. However, I am going to do that now.

Here is your diet: Eat lots of fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, locally sourced meats (if your personal dietary interests allow for that, of course), and maybe some whole grains here and there if you wish. Basically, keep overly processed and sugary (bar fruits) foods to a minimum.

Next time

This was the last of my articles for this semester. To the graduating seniors, I wish you all the best. To everyone else, expect [most likely] a continuation of this series next semester, with clarifying points where necessary.

If you have any additional concerns, please feel free to contact me at snaear01.

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Author: Ari Snaevarsson

Ari Snaevarsson '17 is a Health Sciences major and Religious Studies minor, and he is the Features Editor of The Gettysburgian. He competes in bodybuilding and powerlifting and has an immense passion for dissecting the habit psychology at play in people's dieting attempts. Outside of reading and bedroom DJ-ing, he has previously maintained a health/fitness blog that also followed nutrition news, No Fluff Strength.

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