Workout Routines For Women Over 40: Strength Training, Cardio, Fat Burning, and More!

Written by: Erin Coleman,

B.S. - Nutritional Science, R.D., L.D.

Writer, The Fit Mother Project

Written by: Erin Coleman,

B.S. - Nutritional Science, R.D., L.D.

Writer, The Fit Mother Project

workout routines for women over 40

Looking for effective workout routines for women over 40? You've come to the right place!

The Fit Mother Project is packed with simple workouts that are fun and yield real results for women over 40 and beyond.

You’ll be surprised at how easy getting and staying in shape really is, and you can do most of the simplest, most effective fat-burning exercises from the comfort of your own home!

But before you begin a new workout routine, check in with your doctor to determine if you have any exercise limitations based on your health or possible injuries. If so, you may have to modify strength training workouts to fit your needs.

If you're ready to get started, dive into this blog, where you'll learn tips and techniques for:

  • Upper body workouts
  • Lower body workouts
  • Full body workouts
  • Fat burning workouts
  • Cardio
  • HIIT
  • Yoga
  • Strength training
  • And more!

Avoid these common mistakes of muscle building for women over 40!

Getting Started

Before we get into the actual workout routines for women over 40, let's answer a few common questions.

How Often Should I Work Out?

A good workout goal for women over 40 is to get in at least 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend adults get at least 150 minutes of exercise weekly, and 300 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week to achieve more extensive health benefits.

Which Workouts Should I Choose?

The best workout routines for women over 40 are those you change regularly. In other words, avoid doing the same workout day after day – especially two days in a row.

workout plan - best weight loss program for womenWhile cardiovascular exercise is important for women over 40, resistance training is equally beneficial to maximize your health and burn fat.

That’s because muscle mass tends to decline with age, but is what keeps your metabolism high and your body shape defined.

Examples of resistance training workouts include using your own body weight, lifting weights, and using resistance bands.

How Many Sets and Reps Should I Do?

The number of sets and reps you should complete if you’re over 40 depends on your fitness goals. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) provides the following sets and reps recommendations for resistance training in adults:

  • To build strength, ACSM recommends doing 2 to 6 sets of 8 – 12 reps with 1 – 3 minutes of rest between sets.
  • To boost muscular endurance, ACSM suggests completing 2 to 4 sets of 10 – 25 reps with 30 – 60 seconds of rest between sets.

A good rule of thumb is to aim for 3 – 5 sets of 10 to 20 reps, and gradually increase your weight to boost strength and muscle definition.

Fat-Burning Workout Routines for Women Over 40

The following are examples of fat-burning workout routines for women over 40 that yield fast results, without taking up a lot of time from your day. Mix and match these and other workouts to achieve your desired results. In other words, change up your routine regularly to get and stay as tight and toned as possible.

Upper Body Circuit Training Workout

Super setting upper body workouts, or taking little or no breaks between sets, reduces time spent working out and is an excellent way to drop excess weight and body fat.

Be sure to complete upper body stretches before you get started. Consider the following upper body circuit training routine to tighten and tone your arms, back, shoulders, chest, and abs.

woman doing a plank - weight loss tips for women3 – 5 sets of:

  • 10 – 20 pushups OR dumbbell chest press
  • PLUS 1 minute of jumping jacks between sets

3 – 5 sets of:

  • 10 – 20 biceps curls with dumbbells
  • PLUS 1 minute of plank holds between sets

3 – 5 sets of:

  • Overhead triceps extension workout routines for women over 4010 – 20 triceps extensions or bench triceps dips with dumbbells
  • PLUS 1 minute of mountain climbers between sets

3 – 5 sets of:

End your workout with:

Modify the upper body workout above to use resistance bands or very light dumbbell weights initially, and increase the amount of weight you lift as you become stronger. If you have to take breaks during each super set, it's okay! Don't overdo it, especially when you first begin a new workout routine.

Lower Body Circuit Training Workout

When working your lower body, use the same concept as the upper body circuit training workout above: super set cardio exercises with strength training exercises (with little to no rest between sets) to achieve the best possible fat-burning results. Don’t forget to complete lower body stretches before you begin. Consider the following lower-body workout routine for women over 40:

3 – 5 sets of:

  • 10 – 20 dumbbell box (or chair) step-ups
  • PLUS 1 minute of jogging in place between sets

dumbbell lunge - weight loss tips for women

3 – 5 sets of:

  • 1 minute of walking dumbbell lunges (pictured on the left)
  • PLUS 1 minute of rope jumping between sets

3 – 5 sets of:

  • 10 – 20 dumbbell deadlifts
  • PLUS 1 minute of jump squats between sets

3 – 5 sets of:

  • 10 – 20 dumbbell squats with kickbacks
  • PLUS 1 minute of lying leg raises between sets

End your workout with:

  • 1 minute of wall sits (keep your thighs parallel with the floor)
  • 2 minutes of sit-ups or crunches

Stretch your leg muscles at the end of each lower body circuit training workout.

Total Body Circuit Training Workout

Numerous functional exercises tighten and tone your entire body at once, saving you time. Superset the exercises below as best you can but take breaks between sets as needed, especially if you’ve never done this type of workout before.

3 – 5 sets of:

  • 10 – 20 medicine ball squats to overhead lifts (or throws)
  • PLUS 1 minute of burpees between sets

weight loss workouts for women

3 – 5 sets of:

  • 10 – 20 power cleans (using a barbell if you have one) 
  • PLUS 1 minute of high-knees in place between sets

3 – 5 sets of:

  • 10 – 20 box jumps 
  • PLUS 1 minute of dumbbell OR kettlebell lateral and front raises between sets

3 – 5 sets of:

  • 10 – 20 bent-over dumbbell rows OR renegade rows.
  • PLUS 1 minute of alternating jumping lunges between sets

End your workout with:

1 – 2 minutes of side planks (30 – 60 seconds on each side)

1 – 2 minutes of straight-arm planks

If you can’t do planks for 1 – 2 minutes at a time, it’s okay! Take breaks as needed or complete 15 or 20 seconds of a plank hold initially until your body adjusts to this exercise.

Interval Training Cardio Workouts

Studies show you can burn a surprising amount of fat in significantly less time doing interval training vs continuous cardiovascular exercise. That means instead of biking or jogging at a continuous pace, combine shorter sprints with slower recovery periods during cardiovascular workout routines for women over 40.

woman rowing - fastest way to lose weight for women

Whether you choose swimming, jogging, rowing, cycling, walking, or using an elliptical or stair climber machine, try the following interval-training strategy:

  • Begin with a low-intensity, 5-minute warm-up
  • Push yourself at a high intensity for 30 – 60 seconds
  • Reduce your intensity for 1 – 2 minutes
  • Alternate between low and high intensity bouts for about 20 to 30 minutes
  • Cool down for 5 minutes

Don't forget to stretch when you're done with your interval training workout!

Kickboxing

Kickboxing is an excellent fat-burning exercise for women over 40, as it tightens and tones your legs, butt, arms, and abs so you can drop weight and boost muscle definition.

workout routines for women over 40

Find a kickboxing class at your local gym, try kickboxing videos, or use your own kickboxing moves at home to change up your usual workout routine. Alternate between various kickboxing movements, such as:

  • Front kicks
  • Side kicks
  • Back kicks
  • Roundhouse kicks
  • Jab punches
  • Uppercut punches
  • Speed bag punches

Use a punching bag if you have one, but if not, you can still complete the same movements to burn fat and increase muscle definition.

Yoga

Yoga is a more relaxing workout you might choose on days you’re tired or on rest days. Yoga workouts increase strength and flexibility, and they help relieve stress, which is important for your mental health.

workout routines for women over 40It’s also a calorie-burning workout that boosts your metabolism. For example, a 155-pound adult expends about 150 calories in just 30 minutes doing yoga. Examples of 10 simple yoga poses to get you started include:

  • Child's pose
  • Warrior 2
  • Reverse warrior
  • Tree pose
  • Chaturanga
  • Cow pose
  • Downward facing dog
  • Ragdoll
  • Chair pose
  • Prayer twist

Other basic yoga poses include bridge, cat, garland, and cobra poses. Hold each pose for at least 20 seconds initially, and work your way up to holding positions for 2 to 3 minutes at a time.

Complete Workouts When You're Short On Time

Here are three awesome workouts you can mix in with your regular workout routine, or do when you don't have a lot of time in your day,

Full-Body 35-Minute Workout

This increases strength and muscle definition, which boosts metabolism to help you achieve or maintain a healthy weight. Use dumbbells, at various weights, for each of the exercises listed above and superset them. In other words, take minimal rest periods between sets.

  • 3 sets of jump squats AND 3 sets of deadlifts with dumbbells
  • 3 sets of dumbbell bench presses AND 3 sets of bent-over dumbbell rows
  • 3 sets of dumbbell incline bench AND 3 sets of rear deltoid flys
  • 3 sets of standing shoulder presses AND 3 sets of dumbbell shrugs
  • 3 sets of standing dumbbell curls AND 3 sets of skull crushers for triceps

Strength Circuit Training Weight Loss Workout

With this strength training weight loss workout, you’re allowed minimal rest periods between sets to burn extra calories and fat when you’re tight on time. Complete all of the exercises listed, rest for 1 – 3 minutes, and repeat the circuit 3 – 5 times to maximize fat burning.

  • 10 – 12 reps of dumbbell squats
  • 10 – 12 reps of dumbbell rows
  • 10 – 12 reps of dumbbell bench press
  • 10 – 12 reps of dumbbell deadlifts
  • 10 – 12 reps of dumbbell shoulder press

Fat-Burning Kettle Bell Workout

When you’re ready to burn extra calories for fat loss but are tight on time, try this 20-minute fat-burning kettlebell workout! After completing each of the exercises, rest for about 1 – 2 minutes and complete the circuit 3 – 5 times total. When your body gets used to this workout, increase the number of reps you complete during each exercise.

weight loss workouts for women

  • 10 reps of kettlebell swings
  • 10 reps of kettlebell squats
  • 10 reps of kettlebell overhead press
  • 10 reps of one-arm kettlebell rows with your right arm
  • 10 reps of one-arm kettlebell rows with your left arm
  • 10 pushups

Find out why strength training for women over 40 is so important!

Erin Coleman
B.S. - Nutritional Science, R.D., L.D.

Writer, The Fit Mother Project

Erin Coleman is a registered and licensed dietitian with over 15 years of freelance writing experience.

She graduated with her Bachelor of Science degree in nutritional science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and completed her dietetic internship at Viterbo University in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

Prior to beginning her career in medical content writing, Erin worked as Health Educator for the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Internal Medicine.

Her published work appears on hundreds of health and fitness websites, and she’s currently working on publishing her first book! Erin is a wife, and a Mom to two beautiful children.

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If you’re a busy mom who wants to finally lose weight, get healthy, and actually keep the pounds off for good, this is the simple program you’ll love sticking to…

Our Fit Mother 30X Program (FM30X) is the answer you’ve been looking for. Inside FM30X, you’ll receive:

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*Please know that weight loss results & health changes/improvements vary from individual to individual; you may not achieve similar results. Always consult with your doctor before making health decisions. This is not medical advice – simply very well-researched info on workout routines for women over 40.

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