Exercises,  Training,  Women's fitness

Women’s Beginner Upper Body Strength Workout

Exercise Type: Strength/Resistance
Level: Beginner
Goal: Muscle development & endurance

Baseline set & rep schemes for strength exercise:

8-10 reps – This rep range stimulates muscle growth if performed with a challenging weight. To maximize muscle stimulation, lift a weight or choose a resistance level that is challenging enough that you’re physically unable to perform more than 8-10 reps.

12-15 reps – This rep range builds muscle endurance. Lift a weight or choose a resistance level that enables you to perform at least 12reps. Any reps above 25 are often unnecessary but depend on your physique and performance goals.

Reps to failure – Perform an exercise until your form suffers or until performing a rep feels physically impossible.

Rest periods for strength:

During resting periods between sets, shake out exercised muscles to flush built-up lactic acid. This will help you continue a workout with more-or-less fresh muscles. 60-second rest periods are recommended for each exercise detailed below. This is enough time to recover so you can push hard each set, but short enough to keep the muscles warm. For muscle growth and/or strength, a general recommendation is to have a between-set resting period of at least 60 seconds. This is because growth comes from maximal effort. If your muscles don’t recover every set, your performance can dwindle along with potential gains.

The warm-up

Total time: approx. 5 minutes

3-minute jog around the gym or on a treadmill set to a challenging incline or decline

1-2 minutes of dynamic stretches: 20 Forward and rear arm circles, followed by 20 seconds of shoulder dislocates with a band or lightweight bar

Dips on parallel bars

For absolute beginners: 3 sets of 4-6 reps

For more experienced trainees: 3 sets to failure

Many people do dips in a manner that isn’t “functional,” meaning their movement pattern is unnatural for the human body. When doing dips, always use parallel bars or two surfaces that enable your body to dip down directly between your arms. Using a chair or bench dips puts strain on your shoulders in an unnatural movement pattern that can lead to shoulder injury. See the images below.


Correct form

Dumbbell shoulder press

For muscle growth: 3 sets of 8-10 reps

For muscle endurance and tone: 3 sets of 12-15 reps


Dumbbell rows

For muscle growth: 3 sets of 8-10 reps

For muscle endurance and tone: 3 sets of 12-15 reps

Tricep overhead extensions

Try using cables for this exercise. If you use dumbbells and bodyweight for the above exercises, using cables will give the body more diversity of resistance. The first exercise, dips, is a bodyweight movement that trains small and large muscle groups simultaneously. The use of dumbbells in the two exercises proceeding the dips places focus on large muscle groups. Doing tricep extensions with cables will again train large and small muscle groups together, but under constant resistance, AKA constant tension, which creates the added benefit of muscle endurance.

For muscle growth: 3 sets of 8-10 reps

For muscle endurance and tone: 3 sets of 12-15 reps


You’re done! Now stretch the muscles you worked.

Total stretch time: Approx. 5-10 minutes or longer to increase your flexibility.

As an athlete for over 21 years and a broke single mom for most of that time, I created brokesinglemomfitness.com, now LLAFIT.com, to aid anyone who believes the road to fitness requires a lot of cash or time. In reality, the way to fitness is paved with knowledge and firm principles; teaching readers how to master both is the goal of this site. LLAFIT - Lifelong Applied Fitness

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