This circuit-style workout will help you torch calories and feel stronger, in a short amount of time. Try this 3-day full body workout for efficient lean muscle gains!
Workout Summary
  • Main Goal
    Increase Strength
  • Workout Type
    Full Body
  • Training Level
  • Program Duration6 weeks
  • Days Per Week
  • Time Per Workout40 minutes
  • Equipment Required
    Bodyweight, Dumbbells
  • Target Gender Female
  • Workout PDF Download Workout

Workout Description

It’s always great when we can take care of two things simultaneously. Life doesn’t work that way, but it can work when it comes to training. For example, many women are looking for ways to train with the goals of getting stronger and leaner.

While this program won’t help you win a powerlifting meet or a physique show, it will help you burn a lot of calories in a short time, and you may notice that you’re getting stronger in the process. 

The program that follows will be for six weeks, three times a week. You can do it on a Monday, Wednesday, and Friday schedule, or you can take two days off between sessions. The only requirement is that you not train two days in a row. Recovery matters just as much as training, and doing a routine like this for three days in a row will wear you out quickly, which isn’t a good thing if strength and conditioning matter.

Can You Do Other Workouts?

If you have a busy schedule, then this program should be enough to help you achieve results. If you want to add light cardio, such as walks or average effort on a cardio machine like an elliptical, you should be fine. Going through another weight training schedule on top of this isn’t recommended as it could increase the risk of injury.

What You Need

All of the exercises in this program are either free weight movements or bodyweight exercises. So, you can do this at home or in the gym. You will need two pairs of dumbbells – one heavy and one light as determined by your level of strength.

If all you have is adjustable dumbbells, then you can use them. Just keep in mind that adjusting them will take time which might make this session last longer. If that is an issue, then hit up the local sporting goods store and grab a light pair of weights for you to work with. 

If you like music, put some on your headphones or the stereo if you’re at home. Make sure it’s upbeat and will keep you moving when you get tired because you likely will be by the end of this. Water, a towel, and an exercise mat would also be handy to have on standby.

Lean woman wearing a blue tank top preparing her pre-workout nutrition shake and meal

Nutrition and Meal Timing

Don’t do this one on an empty stomach. Doing fasted cardio sessions such as walking or moderate effort bike rides are ok, but this one is a lot more intense than that. You will need calories to fuel the muscles for the work they are about to do. Therefore, have a meal an hour before it’s time to work out.

So, what do you eat? The first choice is a protein source. It can be whole food or a shake, but make sure that you get an adequate amount in your pre-workout meal. Fats such as nuts or peanut butter would work also. Some of you may be on a low carb or keto plan. Carbs aren’t absolutely necessary, but fruit like a banana or a salad would help your cause if your program allows it. Make sure you’re hydrated as well. Drink at least 20 ounces of water before you train.

Related: Pre-Workout Nutrition 101: Fuel Your Training Any Time of Day

Warming Up

Don’t jump straight into this. Go on a quick walk or do some light cardio for around ten minutes to help you warm up. After that, take a few minutes to stretch the entire body out. Start at the feet and work your way up until all the major muscle groups have received attention. Now, you’re ready to get after it.

Related: The Best 15-Minute Warm-Ups

Strong woman in the gym stretching lower body before workout

The Program

You will train all the major muscle groups over the course of this session. Most of them have two exercises. The first will be a movement that helps you focus on strength. These are the exercises that are listed for ten reps. You’ll use the heavier weights for these and perform ten reps.

Take your time lowering the weight, or doing the negative, and control yourself when you do the lifting portion of the positive part of the rep. 

Once you finish the tenth rep, change weights as quickly as you can so you can start the second exercise in the pairing. These are performed for 20 reps. In total, you’ll do around 250 reps from start to finish.

Use the lighter weights for these movements. This is where the conditioning comes into play. Trying to use the same weights for all the exercises actually won’t help you. Focus on getting through all 20 reps as quickly, and safely as possible. For example, when you do the squat jumps. Get back into position after you land, but do it fast so you can perform the next jump.

A Note on Planks

At various points in the program, you’ll see planks listed. This isn’t a typo. The plank is a great exercise that can help you maximize stability and core strength. It can also be used as a way to help you catch your breath. If you have to perform these with your knees on the floor, that is okay. If you can do them in the traditional position, do it.

The final exercise in the workout is the plank. You can do this for 30 seconds, but here is an extra challenge if you feel you can do it. Take it to full failure or for two minutes, whichever comes first. You’ll know you have a great session by the end of that two minutes if you make it. If you don’t, mark the time you did and try to beat it next time. Even if you beat it by one second, that is still improvement and momentum that can carry you to the next workout.

Related: 5 Challenging Plank Variations (& Tips to Help You Master Them)

6-Week Women’s Full Body Strength and Conditioning Workout

Editor's Note: This is a circuit-style workout. You can rest for the prescribed time, or rest as needed.

Exercise Reps Rest
Goblet Squat 10 30 sec
Squat Jump 20 30 sec
Dumbbell Stiff Leg Deadlift 10 30 sec
Lunge 10 each 30 sec
Standing Calf Raise 20 30 sec
Plank 30-60 sec 30 sec
Dumbbell Floor Press 10 30 sec
Floor Dumbbell Fly 20 30 sec
Dumbbell Row 10 30 sec
Dumbbell Pullover 20 30 sec
Plank 30-60 sec 30 sec
Arnold Press 10 30 sec
Lateral Raise 20 30 sec
Dumbbell Curl 10 30 sec
Overhead Tricep Extension 20 30 sec
Plank 30-60 sec 30 sec
Lying Leg Raise 10 30 sec
Crunches 20 30 sec
Side Crunch with Leg Lift 20 30 sec
Plank to failure 30 sec

Take a Break When Needed

If you’re a beginner or if you’ve never done training in circuits, there’s a good chance you’re going to push yourself to the point that you’re breathing heavily and want to take a quick break. Do it! The goal is for you to train hard, not push yourself beyond that to the point that something goes wrong. If you get to an exercise and doubt you will be able to complete it properly, take a minute to sip water and catch your breath.

Curvy african american woman working out outside with dumbbells

Ways to Track Progress

How can you tell that you’re getting better? There are several ways to gauge your progress. Look at your strength first. Are the weights you used in the first workout feeling lighter now? Then, congratulations, you’re getting stronger.

You might find that by the end of the sixth week that you’re capable of doing more. That means your conditioning is getting better as well. That is the goal, right? Of course, there are other metrics such as weight loss, body composition, the ways clothes fit, and so on. Find the ways that will motivate you the most without beating yourself up if the number isn’t what you want it to be. Don’t rely on the scale alone.

Posted on: Sat, 07/23/2022 - 07:32

My exercise schedule is 3 days lifting ( back & biceps, legs & shoulder, chest & triceps) 2 days cardio and 2 days off.

So my question is if I can continue to do my schedule for the lifting days and for the cardio day I use your ( 6-Week Women’s Full Body Strength and Conditioning Workout) ? Is it okay?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Thu, 07/28/2022 - 21:27

Hi, Raghdad.

That is going to be a lot of work, but if you feel you can do this schedule, go for it. Please monitor your recovery, sleep, and keep that diet on point! If at any point you feel run down or are losing strenght, make a change.

Posted on: Wed, 06/29/2022 - 05:53

Hola! Me gustaría hacer este entrenamiento, se ve bastante desafiante y divertido, y 3 días a la semana es lo que puedo dedicar ahora. El tema es que, como vengo de un programa de 5 días semanales, también muy desafiante, me da miedo que esa reducción de días de entrenamiento, afecte a mis resultados... Como si en lugar de aumentar en el progreso, estuviera reduciéndolo... Es esto así? Puede afectar negativamente en el progreso? Muchas gracias! Saludos desde España! Rebeca.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 07/05/2022 - 11:04

¡Hola! Simplemente entrena cada dos días. Esto haría que sea tres o cuatro días a la semana, dependiendo de la semana. Todavía deberías ver resultados, y no creo que te afecte negativamente pasar de cinco a tres días. ¡Espero que esto ayude!

Her question: Hello! I would like to do this workout, it looks quite challenging and fun and 3 days a week is what I can dedicate right now. The issue is that, as I come from a program of 5 days a week, also very challenging, I am afraid that this reduction in training days will affect my results... As if instead of increasing progress, I was reducing it. .. This is so? Can it negatively affect progress?

My answer: Hello! Simply train every other day. This would make it either three or four days a week, depending on the week. You should still see results, and I don't feel it would negatively impact you going from five days to three. Hope this helps!