Fitness plans for women that actually build physiques are frustratingly difficult to come by.  The truth is, some women’s fitness plans can leave you feeling deflated, exhausted, hungry, fed-up and weak.

This article will help you to better understand the process of changing your physique. 

Fitness plans for women who want the aesthetic results

Before you go any further, accept that weight/resistance/strength training is the only way to alter your physique. 

Yes, the only way!  Strength training will build a structure to your body that cardio just won't cut. 

This doesn't need to be a complicated process.  Simply add weight to your workouts and hey presto, you're on your way to building the base of your physique.   

Of course, as your goals become more specific, things start to get a little more complicated.  As a result, your approach to weightlifting should be adjusted accordingly.

In short, the bodybuilders style of training is the most appropriate fit for those with aesthetic goals.  For more info on what this might look like, see: Female Bodybuilding: Competition Categories Explained.

Training like a bodybuilder

This method uses both compound and isolation exercises, with a slight edge given to isolation exercises. 

Priority is given to individual muscle size/symmetry.  Of course strength is important, just not as important as it is to the powerlifter/strongwoman and Olympic lifter. 

You should split your workout plans by muscle group because this will allow sufficient recovery time between workouts.

When you consider what workouts to do, start by taking an honest look at your current build and think about your ideal competition category (if applicable).  This will set you up for a more targeted approach to training.

Beyond the exercise, you also need to consider how many rep/sets you are going to perform.  An ideal starting point would be 4-6 sets of 8-12 reps.

Experienced lifters will move onto a more advanced approach such as, supersets, trisets, dropsets, pyramid sets, to name a few.

DIY training plans

Firstly, it should be noted that if you intend to go pro, you should get a dedicated coach.

If you don't have the budget for a coach, or you just want to tackle this alone.  Teaching yourself is the next best thing you can do.  Experience is everything, so don't be afraid to dive in. 

Be sure to avoid the trap of traditional women's fitness plans.  More often than not, these will fail to achieve adequate muscle growth.  You need a plan that boasts strength/muscle growth by way of lifting heavy (for you) weights. 

For further reading, see: Female Muscle Growth – How Girls Get Lean

For info; our workout plans specifically target muscle growth and strength.

Above all else; remember that bodybuilding requires your diet to be on point.  For more info on this, see Macros Explained

Fitness plans for women who want to be strong

If you want an easy way to stay motivated, switch the focus of your workouts to strength. 

Women's fitness plans rarely prioritise strength and this is a real shame, because strong bodies build strong minds.  And with a strong mind, anything is possible.

By focusing on strength, you take away the pressure to fit a certain physical standard.  As a result, you achieve your own perfect standard with zero f*cks given.

For strength, you're best approach would be the powerlifters/strongwoman/Olympic lifters style of training.  These types of workouts are designed to prioritise moving as much weight as possible when the time comes (i.e. competition day).

Not all women training for strength are in it to compete, but the objective is still to move as much weight as possible.

Training for strength

The strength sport you choose will determine your training style.  There is a lot to be considered here, so as with bodybuilding, you are encouraged to get a coach if you decide to go pro. 

While strength sports will naturally prioritise strength, you can still use these training styles to alter your physique.  Because with increased strength comes an increase in muscle mass and with that comes a faster metabolism.  From there, you can reveal all of the lean muscle you have built simply by addressing your diet.

Note that it is not uncommon for some strength trainers to carry extra body weight by their own personal preference.  This is because the additional body weight will help them move more gym weight.  Also, if you want to move a lot of weight, you're going to need to eat a lot of food.  Now there's something the women's fitness industry rarely tells us to do!

Workout plans for these strength sports are built around their own key moves.  See examples from each below:  


  • Squat
  • Deadlift
  • Bench Press

For further reading on powerlifting, see: Female powerlifters: Beginner and advanced powerlifting exercises.


  • Atlas Stones
  • Conan's Wheel
  • Deadlift with various implements such as a barbell, axle, loaded frame, car, etc., all of varying weights
  • Farmer's Carry
  • Frame Deadlift and/or Carry
  • Hercules Hold
  • Húsafell Stone
  • Fingal's Fingers
  • Keg-tossing
  • Overhead press using various implements such as an axle, circus dumbbell, log, keg, or block- all of varying weights
  • Squat (exercise)- of varying weight, often the barbell or axle is loaded with wagon or truck wheels that are larger than standard weighted plates
  • Tire Flip
  • Vehicle Pull

Source: Wikipedia

Olympic lifts

  • Snatch
  • Clean & jerk

Traditional women’s fitness plans and strength

As mentioned above, these strength sports are rarely exposed in mainstream women's fitness. 

Most women find their way into these sports through some personal influence in their life, or simply by chance.  It is also not uncommon for women to cross over into these strength sports from bodybuilding and vice versa. 

Of course, each strength sport comes with it's own appropriate method of training.  This will be unlike any traditional women's fitness plan you will find on a commercial level. 

These strength plans are built around their own key lifts, but also feature other accessory exercises with the objective of building strength on their respective primary moves.

If you want to take part but don't have the budget for a coach, the best thing you can do is take the time to teach yourself.  Teaching yourself may mean a slow start, but long term it will pay off.

Note that strongwoman training requires a lot of equipment that you won't find in an everyday gym.  If you want to go down this route, you need to find a local gym that has what you need. 

Our workout plans are built around the key powerlifting moves and feature plans specifically for the purpose of building muscle, strength and power.  Currently, we do not feature any strongwoman or Olympic style training plans.  But watch this space, because our resource continues to grow! 

How cardio is ruining women's fitness

Cardio is an excellent fat burner and as a result is featured in the majority of women's fitness plans.  However, when used incorrectly, it soon becomes your fastest muscle killer.

First and foremost; understand that it is impossible to alter your physique without having and building lean muscle.  Therefore cardio alone was never going to cut it.

Far too many fitness plans for women promote excessive cardio, combined with a heavy reduction in daily caloric intake.  This is the primary reason most of these plans fail long term.

In short; rapid weight loss combined with muscle wastage, subsequently results in a slim, but not lean, or firm appearance.  This is what is known as ‘skinny fat’.

How to bounce back

Recovering from muscle wastage is difficult, but not impossible.  I did it myself, so please don’t be put off trying. 

Building muscle isn't easy for any woman.  Just be aware that if you have used fad methods which have resulted in muscle wastage, it will likely take longer for you to rebuild. 

This is why; ‘lose weight and then tone’ is terrible advice.  


Image credit.

To bounce back you will need to focus on building muscle first.  Avoid cardio for a while and just focus on lifting.  If you're lucky enough to be carrying some additional body weight, use this to help you lift more weight and build lean muscle faster.  You can worry about the fat loss later if you want to. 

Most importantly; you absolutely must take ownership of this, nobody is going to do it for you, only you can do this for yourself.

Here are some related articles to get you started

How To Create Your Own Workout Plan

Push Pull Legs Routine Explained

How To Use A Squat Rack

Strength Training For Fat Loss

Weight Training For Women

Bulking and Cutting for Women

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