Transform yourself in as little as 45 minutes! This 8-week full body workout routine is designed for women who want to tone their bodies while growing their glutes.
Workout Summary

Workout Description

We believe that everyone can and should find some time to train and focus on self-improvement by working out. However, we understand that two of the biggest issues that women face are time to get to the gym and how to schedule that time for yourself.

We’ve previously shared dumbbell workouts that have five-day and four-day schedules, but we wanted to provide an option for those moms, wives, and ladies grinding through hard days that want to live the training life but are limited to training three times a week.

This program includes three workouts that you can perform each week, and no workout should take you longer than one hour with cardio included if that is something that is important to you. If you have a pair of dumbbells and open space in your home, then you can do this workout.

Recommended: Need help building muscle? Take our Free Muscle Building Course

Lean female working out at home with dumbbells.

About the Program

The workouts below are for weight training only. The only required equipment you need are dumbbells and bodyweight. The movements that would traditionally be performed on a flat bench can be performed on the floor. If you have a bench and other equipment such as bands or a power tower that you want to add to this program, then feel free to do so with the same rep scheme as the exercises listed.

You will see that we devoted one day alone to the abs and glutes because these are two areas that we get the most questions and comments about from our female readers. We also made that day the first day on the schedule so you can target them right away and feel more confident about the program as you proceed. The other two days are a blend of lower and upper body days. We kept the exercises to a minimum for those who have busy schedules and want to get the job done as quickly as possible.

Related: Women's Body Bible: Training, Diet & Supplementation

Advanced Lifting Suggestions

For those of you that have been living the gym life for a while, this may not be enough. So, you have two options.

  1. You can either add up to two exercises for areas you want to work on the most by choosing movements from our Exercise Database for similar sets and reps. Just don’t add them to every muscle group.
  2. If you want to burn calories and finish the workout as quickly as possible, then you can do circuits. Perform each exercise in a row, rest for two minutes, then go again. Once you complete three circuits, you’re done.

Training Schedule

The optimal way to perform this program would be to alternate training days with rest days. So, a sample workout schedule may look like this.

  • Monday – Abs and Glutes
  • Tuesday – Off
  • Wednesday – Lower Body
  • Thursday – Off
  • Friday – Upper Body
  • Saturday and Sunday - Off

However, I’m well aware that everyone has different schedules and that may not work in your world. Beginners, if you need to train two days or even three in a row, then do it, but make sure you take the same number of days off to recover. So, if you train two days in a row, take two days off. If you train three days in a row, take three days off.

If you’re an intermediate or advanced trainee, then feel free to train up to three days in a row with one or two days off in between. However, make those days off complete days off so you know you’ve recovered properly before the next training session.

Lean woman doing glute kickbacks in her living room.

3 Day Full Body Women's Dumbbell Workout

Day 1 - Abs/Glutes

Exercise Sets Reps
Ab Crunch 3 15
Lying Leg Raise 3 15
Side Oblique Crunch (each side) 3 15, each
Glute Kick Back 3 15
Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift 3 15
Reverse Lunge 3 15

Day 2 - Lower Body

Exercise Sets Reps
Dumbbell Squat 3 15
Dumbbell Lunge (each side) 3 15, each
Dumbbell Lying Leg Curl (on the floor) 3 15
Bodyweight Single Leg Deadlift 3 15
Seated Calf Raise 3 15
Standing Calf Raise 3 15

Day 3 - Upper Body

Exercise Sets Reps
Dumbbell Bench Press (on the floor) 3 15
Bent-Over Dumbbell Row 3 15
Dumbbell Pullover 3 15
Lateral Raise 3 15
Lying Dumbbell Extension 3 15
Hammer Dumbbell Curl 3 15

Short On Time? No Problem!

In a perfect world, you could create your schedule as you like and stick with it every day. We all know that nothing is perfect, and life happens. So, you may end up with only 15 minutes to train. Don’t consider it a loss and skip the workout. 15 minutes isn’t optimal, but it beats zero. This can be your “break glass in case of emergency” workout.

Perform all the exercises for one set to absolute and total failure with weight that you can do for no more than 20 reps, and don’t stop until you’ve completed all the exercises for that workout. Do not use this as your normal training routine. It won’t be enough for a regular routine, but it can be helpful on that occasion if you need to do something over nothing.

If we were to use Day 1 as an example, it would go like this. You can do the same method for Days 2 and 3.

Exercise Sets Reps
Ab Crunch 1 Failure
Lying Leg Raise 1 Failure
Side Oblique Crunch (each side) 1 Failure
Glute Kick Back 1 Failure
Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift 1 Failure
Reverse Lunge 1 Failure

Lean woman wearing a white top doing dumbbell lateral raises in the gym.

Which Kind of Dumbbells Are Best?

We found that most people that are relying on M&S for fitness information have at least a pair of dumbbells that they can train with. Dumbbells are also very versatile because you can focus on training heavily and work each side independently to promote symmetry and balance. Those combined with bodyweight exercises are all you need to get some type of quality training done. If you have fixed dumbbells, then you may need to implement strategies such as pauses and slowing the reps down to make the sets meaningful. 

The best kind of dumbbells to use are adjustable dumbbells. You can have access to multiple weights without having to commit a lot of space, and it’s one purchase instead of buying the weights a pair at a time as you progress. If you’re considering this program and have not bought weights yet, go with the adjustable dumbbells so you can use different weights for different muscle groups.

Cardio

Cardiovascular exercise is also very important, regardless of the goals you have. We have two different options for cardio training to coincide with this program.

If you’re looking to build muscle and/or get stronger, then you should be doing 20 minutes of Zone 2 cardio post-workout. As soon as you finish the last rep of the final set, go for a walk or hop on your machine of choice if you have one. One cardio session after each workout should serve you well without sacrificing muscle tissue.

If fat loss is the priority, then you can do 20 minutes of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) cardio post-workout. This can be skipping rope or sprints with breaks in between. We have several HIIT cardio options for you to consider. 

Along with that, you would also do a 15-20 minute walk first thing in the morning on training days before eating breakfast. It doesn’t have to be runs or anything intense, just get moving. Make sure your rest days are completely for rest. So, no cardio or weights on days off unless you’re an advanced trainee that wants to do something like yoga or stretching.

Conclusion

Even if you have such a limited schedule that you can only train three days a week, you can still work to achieve personal fitness success. Just make sure you commit the best effort possible to the workouts and pay attention to details with nutrition and recovery so you can reap the benefits of the work you’re putting in.

Once you've established a solid routine and have more time to devote to your workouts, be sure to check out our 4 Day Upper/Lower Women's Dumbbell Only Workout and 5 Day Women’s Dumbbell Only Workout plans for even more growth.

8 Comments
katie
Posted on: Fri, 03/01/2024 - 18:45

Would you consider this a routine for beginning lifters?

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Roger
Posted on: Tue, 03/12/2024 - 18:46

Hi Katie, thank you for reading M&S!

I would actually call this a multipurpose program. Beginners and intermediate lifters alike can use it. I created it so beginners can learn the ropes of training, but it would also provide challenges to more experienced trainees.

Kez
Posted on: Sat, 02/03/2024 - 22:53

How much rest between sets?

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Roger
Posted on: Wed, 02/14/2024 - 05:39

60 seconds of rest between sets is recommended for this one.

Veronica
Posted on: Sun, 01/28/2024 - 16:47

Is it ok to do this routine on an empty stomach, like after just waking up and then eating after? Or eating a few hours before hand?

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Roger
Posted on: Tue, 01/30/2024 - 09:44

If you have had a decent amount of calories before bed the previous night, then I think you would be okay, Veronica. Otherwise, at least a shake and a piece of fruit would be wise. Good luck, and thank you for reading M&S!

Veronica
Posted on: Sun, 10/08/2023 - 18:30

What weight should be used? The heaviest to get through a set without failing?

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Roger
Posted on: Sun, 10/22/2023 - 10:51

Correct, Veronica. Use challenging weight, but you should be able to complete the reps without sacrificing form.