Introducing women to the world of strength training in an approachable way has been my mission as of late. Swapping isolated movements for compound movements; placing “masculine” equipment in their hands, and proving to them that they are stronger than they imagined is what I promote.

female stretching with kettlebelll

Last month I discussed a format that I have been experimenting with to build a community of women who embrace doing things they previous thought only men could do.

In terms of programming, we break sessions into four parts:

  1. Dynamic warm-up: 6-7 minutes of movements priming the kinetic chain and muscles that will be called upon throughout the workout.
  2. Strength Workout of the day (SWOD): 12-15 minutes of muscular strength. Compound exercises like squats and deadlifts. Sets and reps are short, and recovery should be needed between sets.
  3. Met-Con round (WOD)- 10-20 minutes of muscular endurance. Interval and High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) protocols such as, AMRAP, EMOM, Pyramids, and circuits work well.
  4. Cool down with stretching- 5-7 minutes at the end to slowly bring the heart rate down and stretch muscles called upon in the workout. 

Two Samples:

Warm up: 10 repetitions of the following:

  1. Single leg RDL with hip rounds on the way up
  2. Plank to down dog
  3. Downdog to lunge with a torso twist (aka: World’s Greatest Stretch)
  4. Inchworms with hand release push-ups

Cardio Finish

  1. Tabata (20 seconds on, 10 seconds off) jump rope. This can be cut in half for 4 rounds rather than 8.
SWOD: Back squats

  1. Warm up: barbell without weight
  2. 4X6 (4 sets. 6 reps each) with the goal of identifying a 6 rep max. Adding weight each round.
WOD: EMOM 4X8 (4 rounds. 8 reps each exercise. Remaining seconds are recovery)

    1. Chest press (dumbbell or barbell)
    2. Thrusters (dumbbell or barbell)

AMRAP 6 minutes. 10 reps each exercise

  1. Box jumps
  2. Kettlebell swings
  3. Suspension trainer rainbow knee tucks
Cooldown: I like to use yoga stretches whenever appropriate

  1. Child’s posture into half tortoise
  2. Supine torso twists
  3. Supine figure four


Warm up: Clients will move across the room

  1. Walking lunge with overhead reach to, walking lunge w/torso twist back
  2. High knees to, butt kickers back
  3. Zig zags to and back
  4. Squat walk to and back
  5. Bear crawls to, skip back
SWOD: Trap bar deadlifts

  1. Warm up: 10, 8, 6, reps- adding weight each round
  2. 3X10 (3 sets. 10 reps each)
WOD: Descending Pyramids: 16, 12, 8 (reps)

  1. Landmine push press
  2. Weighted box step overs
  3. Battle rope rainbow slams
  4. Suspension trainer ab roll out

40/20 X4

Asymmetrical weighted carry

Kettlebell goblet squats

  1. Sweat angel rollovers
  2. Lacrosse ball roll out: hamstrings, glutes, lats, and delts

I’m still experimenting with programming these sessions, so please share ideas I can add to the repertoire.

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Theresa Perales

Theresa Perales has an MA in Spanish, and is an ESL teacher at San Diego State University (SDSU). After years of struggling with her weight, she decided to give exercise a try. A passion for health and fitness grew instantly and inspired her to become certified as a personal trainer with NFPT, and as a group fitness instructor with AFAA Group Fitness and Madd Dog Athletics® Spinning. Theresa believes that nutrition and fitness are not about aesthetics but ultimately about feeling healthy and empowered.