Women’s 3 Day Beginner Weight Training Routine

Rachael wants to start exercising and toning up. She has a basic idea how to eat healthy and she knows that in order to reach her goals that she will have to get to the gym and start weight training. She goes to the store and buys a few fitness magazines and when she is finished reading them she is more confused than before she started.

Just like Rachael, most people want to change everything in their life overnight because they think that’s the only way to make progress to their goals which is not the best way to go.

But what should you do then?

Small changes in your habits will lead to success, trust me.

The gym is overwhelming, no wonder people give up after a few weeks, let me show you what works for my clients.

Looking to add more ab work to the mix? Check out this 2 day workout routine for abs at home.


I tell my clients that you cannot out exercise a bad diet. “Going on a diet” and your diet (what you eat) are two different things; I want to change what you see as regular foods.

Moderation is the most important word that you need to learn next to planning. You can eat the cake, donuts, and ice cream in moderation especially when you plan your meals.


If you want to eat something that will embarrass you to admin you’ve eaten, you need to plan it out and eat accordingly the rest of the day. Having a donut or two once a week and cutting down on the other amount of sugar and carbohydrates you eat throughout the week will not completely ruin everything that you have worked towards… but going on a random binge will.

If you can get 80% of your food through fresh meats and vegetables that you prepare, the other 20% can be whatever you want. Bad things happen when you start depriving yourself of foods that you’ve grown to love.

Healthy Proteins

Proteins should be priority number 1 in your meal planning. You need to eat plenty of protein to recover fully from all of the exercising and weight training you do.

  • Supplementsprotein shakes or protein bars are easy and can be had on the go
  • Chicken – boneless skinless chicken breasts, boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • Eggs
  • Beef – ground beef, steaks
  • Turkey – ground turkey is a leaner substitute to ground beef if you need to cut fats or calories

Healthy Carbs

Carbs catch a bad rap because there are so many myths that people believe are true. Carbs are a source of energy and are important, but when eaten in excess they are stored as fat.

  • Rice – white, brown
  • Oatmeal

Healthy Fats

Fats make you fat, right? Wrong. Healthy fats are extremely important for a healthy body because they help regulate hormones, they are satiating, and frankly they make food taste better.

  • Olive Oil
  • Avocado
  • Real Butter

As with all of this, moderation and planning are key. There’s no reason to stop eating your favorite foods you just need to adjust the rest of your diet accordingly.

Check out these 39 fat loss myths debunked while you’re at it.

Gym Essentials

Whether you are looking at this workout to get ideas on how to structure your own home routine, or you are going to be going to a gym to complete this, there are some pieces of equipment or gym essentials that I recommend you trying to get.

With the holidays coming up, if you know someone who likes to go to the gym, I will show you some great gym essentials I feel everyone should have in their gym bags.

I would like to let you know that all of the links below are in fact affiliate links to Amazon. If you would like to support the website and help me produce more content for you, please use them. I will not try to sell you anything I don’t use or recommend. I promise. Click the images to check out the item.

Don’t have a gym bag?

Gym bags are nice to have to bring a change of clothes, towels, and other accessories you may need on your trip to the gym.

This Adidas gym bag is by far my favorite because it has a separate compartment to put my sweaty clothes for when I end up having to change at the gym. It is a bit more expensive than the regular gym bags you may see around but the quality is well worth the cost.

This bag is one I had last year and I really liked this bag. It looks great and it fits a lot of things in it.

If you want to have a gym bag but don’t want to carry a lot of stuff in it, this bag is perfect. It’s a bit smaller than the other two that I’ve recommended. This is great for a towel, some gloves, water bottle, and some headphones.

Now lets see some of the accessories I keep inside my gym bags!

Gym Gloves

I have three different gloves that I recommend trying. Two of the pairs I’ve had friends give me and then I bought one of the pairs. They are all reasonably priced and they all hold up to anything you can throw at them.

Wearing gloves helps keep your hands from getting torn up from the weights and look great with the right outfit.

These are the gloves I purchased when I first started exercising. They are Harbingers and this brand has been around a long time. These are washable which is a huge plus.

A friend of mine gave me a pair of these gloves. I really like that there are a lot of colors. These hold up really well and I think you would like these.

This is another set of gloves that a friend gave me. These are washable and very durable.


If you work hard at the gym you know that you’re going to work up a sweat. Instead of using the gym towels or a paper towel, you should invest in a great towel. I have had a few of these towels and they really do help you stay cool.

Water Bottle

Walking the water fountain wastes a lot of time, bringing a water bottle helps cut down the time you spend at the gym and helps cut down on the germs you may encounter if you use the water fountain much. This is one of my favorite water bottles I’ve ever had.

Bluetooth Headphones

Headphones are important to help keep you focused and in the zone. Bluetooth headphones are great because you won’t get the wires caught up while you are trying to work out. There are a lot of awesome Bluetooth headphones out there and these are what I use.


No more hours of cardio!

Spending hours on the cardio machines do nothing but burn you out and make you wish you never started going to the gym in the first place (trust me I know).

So here’s the deal…

  • 5-10 minutes warm up when you first get to the gym – this is going to get your blood pumping and prime your body for exercise. Choose something that isn’t too hard on the body such as walking, bicycling, or the elliptical.
  • 15-30 minutes after you are done weight training – this will boost your metabolism and help your body start to recover from the abuse you just put it through. Here is a good article about the effects of cardio on muscle growth; check it out.

For your post workout cardio you can tackle it in one of two ways; hard and fast or nice and slow.

  • Hard and fast – 15-20 minutes of high intensity interval training. This means running for a certain amount of time and then walking for a short break, rinse, and repeat. I won’t go into detail about HIIT training but if you do not know what it is, check out this article about HIIT training from Muscle & Fitness Magazine.
  • Nice and slow – 20-30 minutes of lower intensity cardio. Think of this as a brisk walk or slight jogging. Something that you can do so that you are breathing hard but not so much you couldn’t regularly carry on a conversation.

Do this and get out of the gym.

I invite you to find something you can do outdoors away from the gym that will keep you active. Choose anything that interests you like picking up a sport, bicycling, or hiking… use your imagination. The reason you are going to the gym is to look and feel better, right? Go have some fun.


Weight Training

Here comes the part you’ve been dreading; the weight training. The gym is intimidating especially to those who haven’t actually even been in one or used any of the machines yet.

If you haven’t picked out a gym yet, check out these 6 tips for picking the right gym.

First thing’s first; everyone has been there and no one will laugh at you. Don’t be afraid to ask a nearby patron for advice or help if you are unsure how to do something.

To those who I meet that have never set foot into a gym, I give them a week to get used to the environment. This means I let them try the machines, pick up free weights, and try everything out. This helps keep the mood high and the disappointment low.

Once you are more comfortable with the equipment in your gym, it’s time to start with the routine.

If you do not plan on having anyone train with you, I advise checking out YouTube or the links I provide with the workout names to see how they are done. I’ve chosen exercises that are not hard to get the movement correct.

If you are interested in building a home gym, the fellas over at Strength Junkies are knowledgeable and will not sell you something you do not need. Cutty from Cutty Strength owns the store and will not lead you in the wrong direction.

What weight should you pick?

After you get into your routine, you will need to take another week testing out weight to see what is suitable for each exercise.

Write what you do in a log!

You are going to want to pick a weight that isn’t so heavy you cannot complete all of the reps safely and not so light that you barely break a sweat.

Remember, you have to struggle and push yourself to change, nothing will come easy.

Check out this short article about free weights and how much is too much. I went into better detail about how much weight you should choose and why.

Woman barbell


The reason your body get stronger, builds muscle, and gets leaner is because your body adapts to the condition it is being put in.

If you are forcing your body to press 25 pounds, your body will adapt and make it easier to press 25 pounds… That is when you start pressing 30.

The progression scheme is easy:

  • Add more weight to the exercise when you complete all reps.
  • The weight you pick will be done throughout every rep of every set.
  • This means if an exercise is 3 sets of 8 reps, you will keep that same weight for all 3 sets.

Routine Schedule

Schedules are hectic and I get that. The great thing about training is there is no absolute “set in stone” rules for when you train. There are some guidelines you should follow when choosing your workout schedule, but nothing you need to worry about.

The ideal schedule would look like this:

  • Sunday: Off
  • Monday: Workout 1
  • Tuesday: Off
  • Wednesday: Workout 2
  • Thursday: Off
  • Friday: Workout 3
  • Saturday: Off

They key points to take away from this is if you can get a day of rest in between a workout, that’s great.

I would not suggest doing all three days one after the other because you will be very tired and unable to recover quick enough.

Weight Training Routine

Workout 1
Exercise Sets Reps
Chest Machine* 3 12
Dumbbell Incline Bench Press 2 8
Incline Dumbbell Chest Fly 2 10
Close Grip Bench Press 4 5
Seated Dip Machine 3 12
1 Arm Tricep Extension 2 15
 Planks 3 ALAP


Workout 2
Exercise Sets Reps
Back Machine* 3 12
1 Arm Dumbbell Rows 2 8
Seated Close Grip Rows 4 10
Shoulder Machine* 2 6
Cross Body Hammer Curl 3 12
Curl Machine* 2 15
Decline Situps 3 AMAP


Workout 3
Exercise Sets Reps
Barbell Walking Lunges 3 10
Leg Extensions 2 15
Leg Curls 2 15
Goblet Squats 3 8
Standing Calf Raise 2 20
Medicine Ball Crunches 2 20
Ab Machine* 3 AMAP

Workout Tips

  • Machine* – Pick a machine you like and feel comfortable with. Be sure that it works the body part in the workout. Most machines are clustered together so finding one that you like that works the body part you are looking for will be easy.
  • ALAP – As long as possible. Do this exercise for as long as you can… Feel the byrn.
  • AMAP – As many as possible. Do this exercise for as many reps as possible. Only stop when you feel you can no longer safely do more reps.


This routine is designed to be tough but easy to learn. This routine is great for beginners to learn with and get comfortable in the gym so enjoy it and watch how well it transforms your body.

If you have any questions please feel free to leave them below, I’ll answer them all!

223 thoughts on “Women’s 3 Day Beginner Weight Training Routine”

  1. I am in absolute aww in how you respond to and conduct your message board. AMAZING!
    I have accidentally run across this detailed and helpful article more then once and decided to give it a go.
    This will be for a friend and I so we hold each other accountable.

    Yes, i read every comment and reply so i wont try to repeat previous questions.
    We will do this for the suggested 12 weeks, to start. Adding 2.5 – 5 lbs per workout 1/2/3 session. We have shift work with off days FRI/SAT and both agree Sun is REST day. She is a cardio freak (Navy Vet), I am not. I prefer hiit and weights. I know she will do light cardio on “rest” days, i WONT. Catch me at a dance class or conditioning (wods).
    I have 80 lbs to go, fingers crossed.
    Has anyone ever sent you updated pics or transformation results out of curiosity?
    Teach me master Jedi!

    • That’s great to hear, Sara. I am excited to hear the passion and motivation. Make sure to cultivate motivation daily so “the bad days” won’t even slow you down.

      Accountability helps quite a bit. Dialing in nutrition and getting active will make drastic changes. Lifting weights and doing specific workouts will help even more.

      Keep the rest times lower between your sets, treat it more like a circuit or just try to maintain an elevated heart rate. Your choice of cardio doesn’t matter as long as you enjoy it. I love dancing around and doing simple aerobic things. Anything that gets you on your feet and moving is great.

      I’ve not received many transformation pics. I’ve received a couple and I felt so good knowing that I helped these people. Keep in touch and let me know how things go. Every unhealthy habit you replace with a healthy habit will make sustaining a healthy lifestyle much easier.

  2. So for each day, once we complete all of the workouts do we go back and do them again? Or do we go straight to cardio then we’re done? I’m level 0 fitness and have never stepped foot in a gym until a few weeks ago so any advice helps!

    • When I write a workout, here’s what I would expect the majority to do:

      Get to the gym and get ready for exercising. Spend a few minutes stretching, doing some lunges, or otherwise prepping themselves for some cardio.

      Jump on a cardio machine you’d like for 10 or 15 minutes, jump down into the workout. Complete each exercise for however many reps you need to do per set.

      Move onto the next workout, finish them. Ideally jump on and do some more cardio or do some stretching.

      A week goes by and you do the same exercises you have been, but add 5 or 10 pounds to the workout. So if you did a certain exercise with 35 pound dumbbells, try 40lb this time.

      Fitness is all about making yourself better and better each day. The more you get acquainted with working out and the whole fitness thing, the more confidence you’ll have.

      Good luck, let me know if you have any more questions!

  3. Hi there!

    I’ve never stepped foot in a gym and have been doing what I can at home and have a good diet but I really want to try a strictly weight training routine. This sounds doable and plan to start this week but I’m so nervous of being in the gym alone. Do you have any advice on first time gym goers and what weight is a good beginner weight to start with?


    • I’d invite you to bring a friend. Ideally one who has been in the gym and knows what they are doing. They can be your teacher and show you the ins and outs of the gym. Having someone else that has never stepped foot into a gym is okay too – that way you can both rely on each other for that support.

      I’d also say to at least try to get a free training session from a personal trainer and try to learn everything you can. You can look up how-tos on any exercise I’ve posted with detailed information on how to do them. Just jump right in and go to the gym, many machines show how to use them.

      Two articles our brother site has written at Tiger Fitness may also help. 10 ways to combat gym anxiety, and 10 tips to get over gymtimidation.

      Let me know how things go!

  4. On the chest machine for day one what chest machine are you referring to? There are so many different ones I feel like I need a little more explanation.

    Thank you!

    • Pick the one you like best. The one that simulates a flat bench press is ideal – but pick one you are familiar with.


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