Photo credit:  Ashley Marks Photography

Photo credit: Ashley Marks Photography


So many fitness newbs join a gym and then go straight to the cardio machines, steering clear of the weight room or yoga classes.

Big Mistake.


A well rounded fitness program should consist of cardiovascular training, resistance training, and flexibility work. These types of exercise all complement each other and are necessary for different reasons. Cardiovascular training boosts your endurance and heart and lung health. Strength training builds muscle, boosts your metabolism, fires up your workout calorie burn, improves posture, keeps you functional, and builds bone density – helping you fight off osteoporosis.

Strength training is SO important for women! Flexibility training is key to avoid injury and build your mind-body connection.

Strength Training

In general, I recommend that women strength train two to four days per week and supplement their strength training with one to two high-intensity interval training (HIIT) sessions and one to two moderate-intensity training (MIC) sessions each week. Flexibility work can be done daily for about 10-15 minutes per session at the end of your cardio or strength workout.

Strength training workouts can last 30-50 minutes per session and should be done 2-4 times per week. Fewer if you’re just starting out, more if you’ve been working out for a while. Each workout should include a dynamic warm-up and a resistance workout that works either upper body, lower body, fully body, or a specific body part if you are more advanced. You should separate strength training workouts for the same body part by at least 48 hours, meaning if you work arms on Monday, don’t do them again until Wednesday.

Don’t Skip Cardio

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts are an effective way to get a good workout in within a shorter amount of time. HIIT involves periods of intense work followed by periods of rest or very light activity, performed for multiple sets or rounds. 

Most people run for HIIT workouts but please know that you can cycle, walk, use the elliptical, the stair stepper, or swim for your HIIT workout! HIIT workouts can be anywhere- in the gym or outside!

A HIIT workout should last 5-20 minutes per session and I recommend doing them 1-2 times per week.

For your other cardio workouts, I recommend doing a few sessions of moderate intensity. which is cardiovascular exercise during which your heart rate stays between 120 and 140 beats per minute. Cardio performed in this range helps you develop a solid aerobic foundation, which allows you to recover more quickly between workouts so that you can stay fresh and strong. MIC has also been shown to improve sleep quality and reduce overall stress levels.

Medium intensity cardio session should last between 20-40 minutes per session and be performed 1-2 times per week.

Stay Flexible

Flexibility work involves any kind of stretching, foam rolling, yoga, or Pilates. This helps you increase and maintain your range of motion and avoid injury. You can do

Don’t forget to rest!

On your rest days, the days in between your workouts where you allow your muscles to rest, you may engage in active recovery activities. Restorative work or active recovery can be anything that you do with your body that is relaxing and keeps your heart rate under 120 beats per minute. This can be a light walk, foam rolling, meditating, deep breathing, restorative yoga, tai chi, swimming, light cycling, etc.

Scheduling Your Resistance Training Workouts

If you want to do your resistance training twice per week, that means you would perform full body workouts each time, allowing 48 hours between each workout. 

If you’d like to strength train 3 times per week: Alternate full body resistance workouts each time you work out, leaving at least 48 hours between each workout.

Sample Workout Schedule:

Week 1:  Monday –  Full Body Workout A   Wednesday – Full Body Workout B       Friday – Full Body Workout A

Week 2: Monday –  Full Body Workout B Wednesday – Full Body Workout A      Friday –  Full Body Workout B

Alternate these two weekly patterns so that you’re never doing the same workouts back to back. Rotate in new workouts every 6-8 weeks to prevent boredom and adaptation.

If you are more advanced and would like to strength train 4 times per week, you can perform two lower body and two upper body workouts, alternating between the two. You may do the same upper and lower body workouts, or alternate the upper body workouts and the lower body workouts.

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Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor or Registered Dietitian. The information presented is purely to share my experience and for entertainment purposes. As always, check with a doctor before making any fitness or nutrition changes. The author and blog disclaim liability for any damage, mishap, or injury that may occur from engaging in any activities or ideas from this site.