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Simple & Effective Workout Routines for Women Over 40

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

Writer, The Fit Father Project & Fit Mother Project

workout routines for women over 40

Workout routines for women over 40 don’t have to be grueling, difficult, or something you dread. In fact, just the opposite is true when you have the right workout routines for women over 40 in place.

The Fit Mother Project provides just that – 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! The best part is you can do some of the simplest, most effective fat-burning exercises from the comfort of home.

Questions About Creating a Workout Routine for Women Over 40

Before you begin a new workout routine for women over 40, 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.

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Here are some answers to common questions you may have about beginning a new workout routine for women over 40:

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 2020 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 up 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.

Sample 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 works, 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 (pictured on the left)

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:

10 – 20 dumbbell bent-over reverse flys or reverse flys on a bench

PLUS 1 minute of rope jumping between sets

End your workout with:

1 – 2 minutes of Russian twists with a dumbbell or medicine ball

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 kick backs

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. Super set 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 kettle bell lateral and front raises (pictured on the left) 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.

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

woman rowing - fastest way to lose weight for women

  1. Begin with a low-intensity, 5-minute warm up
  2. Push yourself at a high intensity for 30 – 60 seconds
  3. Reduce your intensity for 1 – 2 minutes
  4. Alternate between low and high intensity bouts for about 20 to 30 minutes
  5. 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 help relieve stress, which is important for your mental health, and increase strength and flexibility.

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
  • Rag doll
  • 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.

Men’s Workouts that are Effective for Women Over 40!

Many of the Fit Father Project fat-burning workout routines for men over 40 work great for women over 40 as well! Below are examples of exercises you can mix in with your regular workout routine to build or maintain lean muscle and keep your metabolism going strong.

Full-Body 35-Minute Workout

The Fit Father Project 35-minute full body workout for men works well for women too! It increases strength and muscle definition, which boosts metabolism to help you achieve or maintain a healthy weight.

The exercises you’ll complete during the Fit Father 35-minute workout include:

  • 3 sets of jump squats AND 3 sets of deadlifts with dumbbells
  • 3 sets of dumbbell bench press 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 press AND 3 sets of dumbbell shrugs
  • 3 sets of standing dumbbell curls AND 3 sets of skull crushers for triceps

Use dumbbells, at various weights, for each of the exercises listed above and super set them. In other words, take minimal rest periods between sets.

Strength Circuit Training Weight Loss Workout

This Fit Father Project strength training weight loss workout designed for busy fathers works well for weight loss in busy moms too!

You’re allowed minimal rest periods between sets to burn extra calories and fat when you’re tight on time.

You’ll complete the following:

  • 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

You’ll complete all of the exercises listed above, rest for 1 – 3 minutes, and repeat the circuit 3 – 5 times to maximize fat burning.

Fat-Burning Kettle Bell Workout

When you’re ready to burn extra calories for fat loss but are tight on time, try this Fit Father Project 20-minute fat-burning kettle bell workout consisting of:

weight loss workouts for women

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

After completing each of the exercises above, 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.

Another kettle bell exercise you can add, or swap for another exercise, is called a kettle bell upright row (pictured on the right).

Eating Right to Maximize Results

Diet is just as important as choosing the right workout routines for women over 40. You won’t see the results your desire if you’re eating too much or consuming the wrong foods. When signing up for the Fit Mother Project 30X (FM30X) you’ll learn how to eat nutritious foods to maintain optimal health and keep your weight and body fat low.

food journal - weight loss tips for women

A good rule of thumb is to:

  • Fill half of your plate with non-starchy vegetables
  • Fill one-fourth of your plate with fiber-rich starchy foods
  • Fill the remaining fourth of each plate with nutritious protein foods

Examples of non-starchy vegetables include leafy greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, asparagus, zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms, and bell peppers.

Choose lean meats, poultry, fish, seafood, eggs, cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, tofu, and protein shakes as your protein – and sweet potatoes, peas, beans, corn, quinoa, oatmeal, brown rice, and other fiber-rich starchy foods as your starches.

Add plant oils, fish oil, avocados, olives, nuts, seeds, and other heart-healthy fats to each meal to enhance satiety and keep your heart, brain, skin, nails, and hair as healthy as possible.

FM30X helps you create your own healthy meal plans and menus. To get an idea of how to go about doing this, sign up for the Fit Mother Project free starter kit today! In this FREE jump start kit you’ll receive:

  • A free 1-day fat loss meal plan
  • Free email coaching from health experts
  • A free metabolism-boosting workout
  • Private fit mom Facebook group access for social support

When you’re ready to change your way of thinking and try a weight loss program with proven results you can stick with for life, give The Fit Mother Project's FM30X program a try!

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Erin Coleman

Writer, The Fit Father Project & 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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