Blog Fitness Workout Plans For Women The Best Exercises To Include In A 5-Day Workout Routine For Women

The Best Exercises To Include In A 5-Day Workout Routine For Women

Women can train just like men. The principles of volume, frequency, progression and even enjoyment apply equally, regardless of gender. That being said, certain exercises may be better suited for women who want to get the most out of their five-day workout routine. Why? Because women typically have different fitness goals than men, and certain exercises can emphasize those specific goals. Furthermore, certain physiological differences between the sexes dictate certain training protocols as well. In this article we’ll take you through the basics of a woman’s workout program. What exercises should be included? What is the best way to program them for maximum effectiveness and safety? And most importantly, how can you make sure your workout continues producing results over time? Let’s get started.


Day 1: Lower Body Strength Training

The foundation of any solid training routine should include some form of lower-body strength training. Luckily for women, their muscles in this area respond faster and more effectively to strength training than men’s do! 

The key is to focus on quality over quantity. 

On day one of your five-day program, you should concentrate on compound, multi-joint exercises that are associated with greater improvements in strength, power, and muscular hypertrophy. 

You should also do a couple of accessory exercises to target specific muscle groups. Say you have an area that you want to work on, like your glutes or hamstrings. You can do exercises such as glute bridges and hamstring curls to ensure that you’re targeting those areas. 

Sample Women’s Lower Body Workout

  • Front barbell squat: 3 sets of 10-12 repetitions
  • Leg press: 3 sets of 12-15 repetitions
  • Romanian deadlift: 3 sets of 8-10 repetitions
  • Barbell hip thrust: 3 sets of 10-12 repetitions
  • Lateral lunge: 3 sets of 10 repetitions per side
  • Step-up with a knee raise: 3 sets of 12 repetitions per side

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5 day workout routine women

Day 2: Upper Body Strength Training

On day two of your five-day program, you’re working on upper body strength and muscle development. Just like with lower body training, the key here is to focus on quality over quantity and choose exercises that involve multiple joints and muscle groups. 

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Some women may shy away from upper body training because they think it will make them bulky. What they don’t know is it takes quite a lot of work and dedication to build significant amounts of muscle mass.

Men have the advantage of naturally higher levels of testosterone, which makes it much easier for them to bulk up (11). 

For a woman, building a strong and muscular upper body will give your frame a more lean and toned look. Not to mention that it improves your body composition which helps with fat loss! 

Sample Women’s Upper Body Workout

  • Bench press: 3 sets of 10-12 repetitions
  • Dumbbell shoulder press: 3 sets of 12-15 repetitions 
  • Bent over row: 3 sets of 8-10 repetitions
  • Dumbbell lateral raise: 3 sets of 10-12 repetitions 
  • Pull-ups: 3 sets of as many reps as possible
  • Pushups: 3 sets of 10-12 repetitions

Day 3: Rest

Rest days are just as important as training days. It’s on these days that your muscle fibers are allowed to rest, repair and grow (4). Without rest, your body won’t be able to reach its full potential.

A rest day is also a great opportunity for you to work on your mobility and flexibility. You can take some time to do yoga or simply stretch out your entire body. This will help you stay limber, improve posture, and decrease your risk of injury (2) (7). 

Active rest days are also a great option if you don’t want to take a complete rest day. 

You can go for a light jog, do some bike riding, or even take a leisurely swim. These activities help keep your heart rate up and provide you with an overall sense of well-being. In addition, they hold many benefits for your cardiovascular health. 

While on the topic of rest, we should mention that it’s also important to get enough sleep. Aim for at least 7-9 hours of quality restful sleep each night so that your body has adequate time to repair and rebuild. 

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Make sure you create a comfortable sleep environment, avoid electronics before bed, and keep a consistent sleep schedule. The better rested you are, the better your performance and results will be!

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Day 4: Lower Body Strength Training

On day 4, you’ll be doing lower body strength training. Don’t make the mistake of switching up your exercises and having a different set for each lower body day of the week. 

Research shows that your body takes at least 4 weeks to adjust to a new workout routine, so it’s important that you remain consistent in order to see results (1). 

Furthermore, you should stick with a handful of exercises that you can perform correctly and get the most bang for your buck instead of learning new exercises each week. Quality over quantity, remember?

Sample Women’s Lower Body Workout

  • Front barbell squat: 3 sets of 10-12 repetitions
  • Leg press: 3 sets of 12-15 repetitions
  • Romanian deadlift: 3 sets of 8-10 repetitions
  • Barbell hip thrust: 3 sets of 10-12 repetitions
  • Lateral lunge: 3 sets of 10 repetitions per side
  • Step-up with a knee raise: 3 sets of 12 repetitions per side

Day 5: Upper Body Strength Training

The same principle of consistency applies to upper body strength training. On day 5, you’ll be doing the same upper body workout as day 2. This allows your muscles to become more accustomed to the exercises and generate stronger force production. 

Of course, you’ll need to progressively challenge your body by increasing the weight or number of reps when necessary.

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5 day workout routine women

How To Start A Daily Workout Routine For Women

The key to having a successful workout routine is consistency. As we’ve mentioned many times before, it’s important that you remain consistent with your routine in order to see results. That’s why it’s important that you create a schedule for yourself and stick to it! 

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Start by figuring out how often you want to work out. If you’re just starting out, 3-4 times a week is more than enough for you to get started. Make sure you leave at least one rest day in between workouts so your body has time to recover and rebuild. 

Once you’ve decided how often you’ll be working out, plan out your days. Again, choose what fits seamlessly into your life rather than a cookie-cutter workout plan. If you have more time on the weekends, feel free to add in an extra workout or two. 

Next, pick a time of day that works best for you. If you’re a morning person, try to work out early in the morning before your day gets busy. If late nights suit you better, then go for it. You might want to avoid working out too close to bedtime since it might make it harder for you to fall asleep. 

For your first workout, choose a weight that you can comfortably lift. Don’t worry about lifting too heavy just yet, focus on getting the form and technique down first.

You want a weight that’s challenging enough for you to feel the burn and push yourself but not so much that you can’t keep up with the rep range. 

Finally, track your progress and strive to increase the weight or reps each week so you can continuously challenge your body. This is called progressive overload, and it’s the best way to ensure that your workouts are helping you make progress.

5 day workout routine women

Do Women Have Different Workout Needs From Men?

Yes and no. The basics of strength training are the same for both men and women. Both genders can benefit from exercising regularly, eating a balanced diet, and getting enough rest. They can do the same exercises, use the same equipment, and practice similar techniques. 

However, there are some physiological differences worth noting when designing a workout program for women.

1. Less Strength For A Given Level Of Muscle Mass

Women generally have less muscle strength than men for a given level of muscle mass. Contrary to popular opinion, this has nothing to do with testosterone levels. Rather, it has to do with the shape and size of muscle fibers. 

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Women typically have smaller and narrower muscle fibers than men which means they can’t generate as much force (11).

What does this mean for your workout? It means that if you’re using a general workout program, you’ll likely have to use lighter weights than your male counterparts. This doesn’t mean that you can’t get strong; it just means you’ll have to adjust your workout accordingly. 

2. Greater Endurance

Women’s bodies are more adept at aerobic activities than men’s. This means that women can typically sustain a higher level of activity for longer periods (12). 

Research shows that female muscle fibers are better at using oxygen than male muscle fibers, which is why women typically have an edge in endurance activities (6). 

This should encourage you to use shorter rest periods between sets and to increase the rep range for each exercise. Doing so will help you maximize your endurance gains.

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3. Hormone Differences

Women experience a wide range of hormonal changes throughout their lifetime, whereas men’s hormones remain relatively stable. This difference can have a major impact on a woman’s workout performance.

For instance, research shows that women tend to feel less motivated and have lower energy levels when their estrogen levels are low (3) (9). This might mean that you need to adjust your schedule accordingly and take extra rest on days when you’re feeling particularly fatigued. 

A women’s workout plan that takes into account the 21-28 day cycle might be beneficial. You can also use lighter weights and higher reps to help you get through those days when your energy levels are low.

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5 day workout routine women

4. Recovery Needs

Research on the differences in recovery from training between gender is mixed and somewhat incoherent. However, there is some evidence to suggest that women may recover better from high-intensity workouts, while men recover better from moderate/normal-intensity workouts (8) (13). 

A possible explanation is because women have smaller muscle sizes, exercise-related stress is distributed more evenly throughout the body, leading to a more efficient recovery. 

Another theory is that estrogen may play a role in recovery. Estrogen is known to reduce inflammation, which is important for post-exercise recovery (5). 

There is not enough evidence to draw any definitive conclusions about gender differences in recovery, however. You may want to play around with your workout intensity and rest periods to see what works best for you. 

5. Plateaus

Women can be especially prone to plateaus due to their smaller muscle sizes and lower strength levels. 

Research into training adaptations shows both genders progress at the same rate during the first 6 months of training. But after that, men tend to make more progress than women due to their larger muscle sizes and higher strength levels (10) (14). 

Essentially; there’s only so far you can go with lighter weights. If you’re stuck in a rut and not seeing any progress, it might be time to make some changes. 

There are many ways to break through a plateau. You can try switching up the exercises you do in your workouts, increasing the weight used for each exercise, or reducing the rest periods between sets.

You can also experiment with different rep ranges and try incorporating new techniques such as supersets, drop sets, or tempo training. 

The Bottom Line

A 5-day workout routine for women should take into account the different ways their bodies handle exercise. 

Women have smaller muscle sizes, greater endurance, and different hormone levels that can all influence their performance. They also have different recovery needs and may be more prone to plateaus due to their lower strength levels.



This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!


  1. 6 Signs it’s Time to Switch Up Your Workout (2014,
  3. Estrogen-mediated effects on depression and memory formation in females (2012,
  4. Exploring the Science of Muscle Recovery (n.d.,
  5. Gender differences in muscle inflammation after eccentric exercise (2000,
  6. Gender Differences in Skeletal Muscle Substrate Metabolism – Molecular Mechanisms and Insulin Sensitivity (2014,
  7. Impact of 10-weeks of yoga practice on flexibility and balance of college athletes – PMC (2019,
  8. Neuromuscular fatigue in males and females during strenuous heavy resistance loading. (1994,
  9. Physical and mental fatigue across the menstrual cycle in women with and without generalised anxiety disorder (2020,
  10. Responses to eccentric and concentric resistance training in females and males (1991,
  11. Sex-Based Differences in Skeletal Muscle Kinetics and Fiber-Type Composition (2015,
  12. Sex Differences in Human Skeletal Muscle Fatigue (2001,
  13. Sex Differences in the Temporal Recovery of Neuromuscular Function Following Resistance Training in Resistance Trained Men and Women 18 to 35 Years (2018,
  14. Time course for strength and muscle thickness changes following upper and lower body resistance training in men and women (2000,
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