Best Weight Loss Workouts for Women

Home and Gym Routines to Burn Fat

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If you're looking for a weight loss workout for women, you may already know that losing weight isn't the same for everyone. Depending on your fitness level, age, lifestyle, and medical history, it may take longer to reach your goals than it does for others. For instance, there's a general stereotype that women tend to lose weight more slowly than men.

This slower rate of weight loss can be attributed to several factors, including differences in muscle mass and hormonal variations between the sexes. However, it's possible to overcome barriers that are slowing you down. With a positive mindset and the right training plan, you can start seeing the results you want.

Physical activity and nutrition both play a role in weight loss. Most experts agree that what you eat is more likely to significantly impact your weight loss rate than exercise alone. Nonetheless, exercise provides several weight-loss benefits that go beyond burning calories, such as lower blood pressure, higher insulin sensitivity, and lower cholesterol.

Exercise produces feel-good endorphins that keep weight loss fun and prevent burnout. Building muscle, flexibility, and endurance through exercise can boost your body image and improve your chances of sustaining weight loss over the long term.

It may surprise you, but putting weight loss aside and focusing on other goals can help you lose more weight. If you find yourself obsessed with weight loss, speak to a health care provider.

Cardiovascular Exercise

Type of Cardio  What it Is  Benefit  Example
Interval Training Alternating between moderate intensity and lower intensity Increases energy output in same timeframe Jogging for 5 minutes, followed by 2 minutes of walking. Repeat for 30 minutes.
 HIIT Alternating between high intensity and moderate or low intensity  Saves time with higher energy output in a short time  Sprint for 30 seconds, followed by 60 seconds of jogging. Repeat for 15 minutes.
 Tabata 20 seconds of high intensity with 10 seconds of rest (or another rigid timeframe)  Boosts anaerobic capacity and saves time  Do 20 seconds of burpees, rest for 10 seconds and repeat for 4 minutes.

Cardio, or aerobic exercise, is often the first thing that comes to mind when trying to lose weight. Although cardio isn't necessarily the most optimal choice and should be combined with resistance training, it provides several health benefits and can support weight loss efforts. Here are some types of cardio to consider.


Walking should not be underrated during weight loss efforts. Walking not only helps with energy balance, but it's also sustainable, low-impact, requires no recovery time, and helps relieve stress. Balancing stress during weight loss is crucial. Your body doesn't differentiate between physical and other forms of stress.

Eating in a calorie deficit necessary for weight loss while exercising more frequently can put substantial stress on your body. This can lead to increased injuries, illnesses, and burnout, making your weight loss efforts more challenging to stick to.

Instead of focusing on more intense forms of exercise, keep walking as the pillar of your exercise routine. Aim to increase your steps each week, or work in more daily movement by taking activity breaks from work. Increasing daily movement is vital for healthy weight balance.

High-Intensity Training

High-intensity training does have its place, but it's essential to balance it with proper nutrition, rest, and other forms of activity. Because these workouts are shorter, you can squeeze them in even if you don't have much time. Interval training is one of the best ways to increase your fitness level during any workout. Work hard for some time (say 30 to 60 seconds), rest for a set period, and repeat. Just keep in mind that HIIT cannot be done every day and is very taxing on your body.

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) takes regular intervals to the next level, focusing on very high-intensity exercises. HIIT offers proven benefits for cardiovascular disease and diabetes. This training can also help improve your body composition effectively and efficiently. An example is sprint interval training.

Tabata training is another form of high-intensity interval training that involves pushing hard for very short periods, helping you burn calories and rev up your metabolism. Try the Tabata Low Impact Challenge or a high-impact Tabata Cardio Workout.

Cardio Mistakes to Avoid

  • Doing too much cardio: Repetitive motions in cardio exercises (like running) increase the risk of injury and overtraining. Switch up your routine and take days off to recover between workouts as needed.
  • Neglecting other types of exercise: If you skip out on weight training to focus only on cardio, you're missing out on opportunities to change your body composition for the better.
  • Sticking to low-intensity cardio: Doing cardio in your 'fat-burning zone' may not be enough to help you lose weight. Mixing in higher-intensity workouts will give you an extra edge for weight loss.

Weight Training for Women

Both men and women can see improvements in body composition with weight training, especially when combined with proper nutrition. Beyond building stronger muscles, weight lifting helps with energy balance (calorie burn) in a couple of ways.

First, muscle mass is metabolically active, meaning it burns calories even at rest, unlike fat tissue which does not burn calories. Secondly, resistance training burns calories during your training session and afterward as your body works to repair tissues.

Research shows that weight loss nterventions incorporating resistance training and a calorie deficit are the most effective for reducing body fat percentage. If you dislike typical forms of cardiovascular exercise, resistance training alone, combined with a supporting diet, can lead to weight loss. Note that during resistance training efforts, your heart and lungs will get a workout, too. You don't need to run, cycle, or swim to get a boost to your cardiovascular fitness.

Stronger muscles also help build stronger bones and boost metabolism. Following a regular weight training routine will help you maintain an active lifestyle for years to come, warding off some weight gain and chronic diseases usually associated with aging.

Circuit Training

If you get bored easily from weight training, circuit training is a fun way to sneak in a resistance workout. Circuit training involves going from one exercise to the next with no rest, usually combining cardio and strength moves. While circuit training won't likely help you add muscle mass or build strength, it can preserve muscle during weight loss and boost your cardiovascular fitness. Preserving muscle mass is crucial during weight loss to prevent regain and keep your metabolism functioning optimally.

If this appeals to you, aim to incorporate circuit training one to two times per week, or you can supplement your regular strength training routine with circuit training once per week. Just ensure you rest your muscle groups between sessions.

Strength Training

Strength workouts build muscle through straightforward, targeted movements. Try a total body workout twice a week or split routines for your upper and lower body.

Kettlebell exercises can increase your strength just as well as regular dumbbells. You can also use resistance bands. Just make sure you're lifting enough weight. Proper form is essential for effective and safe strength training. If you're not sure how to get started, enlist the help of a qualified personal trainer.

Developing a Weekly Workout Plan

To track your results and ensure you are targeting all muscle groups, stick to the same workout plan for 3 to 4 weeks. Plan your workout schedule ahead of time. Here's a sample of what that might look like:

  • Monday: 15 minutes of HIIT, alternating 30 seconds of sprints with 1 minute of walking for 15 minutes. Follow up with the Total Body Dumbbell Workout.
  • Tuesday: 30 to 60 minutes of moderate cardio, such as the Cardio Endurance Workout.
  • Wednesday: Mobility training, active rest, walking
  • Thursday: Repeat the total body dumbbell workout.
  • Friday: HIIT training or steady-state cardio; core work
  • Saturday: Total body dumbbell workout, walking
  • Sunday: Active rest, mobility training, walking

Rest and recovery are essential components of any workout program. If you get too sore or run down, give yourself an extra day off and pick it up again tomorrow.

A Word From Verywell

When weight loss feels like it's taking forever, try not to get discouraged. Understanding the root cause of your weight challenges can help you develop a personalized plan that's more effective than what you've tried in the past.

Keep the motto "progress, not perfection" in mind. Remember, living a healthy lifestyle is an ongoing journey, not a race to the finish line. Instead of comparing yourself to others, focus on the positive changes you've achieved.

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Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Rachel MacPherson, BA, CPT
Rachel MacPherson is a health writer, certified personal trainer, and exercise nutrition coach based in Montreal.