Skip to content

5 Best Weight Loss Workouts for Women That Actually Work

A trainer's go-to workouts for weight loss will help you get into shape and boost your health.
FACT CHECKED BY Alexa Mellardo

Finding just the right game plan to lose weight can be a struggle. This becomes increasingly true as you endure the natural bodily changes that occur with aging. For instance, women tend to accumulate extra inches around their midsection after going through menopause. But following a nutritious diet full of protein- and fiber-rich foods, drinking plenty of water, and exercising regularly are always smart habits to develop for anyone who is embarking on a weight loss journey. Weight loss is a common goal among my female clients, so I've put together the five best weight loss workouts for women that actually work.

Shedding unwanted weight calls for a well-rounded workout routine with benefits that specifically aid weight loss in women. Below, you'll find five weight loss workouts for women to choose from. These workouts are not only effective for dropping pounds but also contribute to boosting your overall health and fitness.

If you're ready to get started, let's get into five of my best weight loss workouts for women that actually work. And when you're finished reading, learn about these 5 Standing Exercises for Faster Weight Loss After 50.

Workout #1: High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is highly effective for women to lose weight because it elevates the heart rate rapidly, leading to increased calorie burn during and after the workout due to the "afterburn effect." HIIT also helps women preserve lean muscle mass while shedding fat, resulting in a toned physique and improved metabolism, crucial for sustainable weight loss.

1. Jumping Jacks

how to do jumping jacks demonstration

Jumping jacks are an excellent cardiovascular exercise that elevates the heart rate, burns calories, and improves stamina. They engage multiple muscle groups while promoting weight loss.

Stand with your feet together and your arms at your sides. Jump your feet apart while simultaneously raising your arms overhead. Quickly return to the starting position by jumping your feet together and lowering your arms. Complete three rounds of 45 seconds.

2. Mountain Climbers

mountain climbers illustration

Mountain climbers are a powerful full-body workout that increases heart rate, burns calories, and strengthens the core. They help improve endurance and agility.

Begin in a pushup plank position with your hands under your shoulders. Alternate bringing your knees in toward your chest, keeping a brisk pace. Complete three rounds of 45 seconds.

3. Burpees

illustration of burpees

Burpees are a total-body exercise that combines strength training with cardio. They elevate the heart rate, burn calories, and build muscular endurance.

Start by standing with your feet hip-width apart. Drop into a squat position, and place your hands on the ground. Kick your feet back into a pushup position. Perform a pushup, then jump your feet back to the squat position. Explosively jump up, reaching your arms overhead. Complete three rounds of 45 seconds.

5 Best Daily Exercises for Women Over 50 To Lose Weight

Workout #2: Strength Training for Women

Strength training is essential for women to lose weight because it helps build lean muscle, which in turn boosts metabolism, leading to increased calorie burn at rest. As women age, they naturally lose muscle mass, but strength training can counteract this process, helping them maintain a healthy body composition. Additionally, strength training releases endorphins, which help to balance hormones and reduce stress.

1. Goblet Squats

dumbbell goblet squat illustration

Goblet squats are effective for building lean muscle mass, which in turn boosts metabolism and supports fat loss. They also enhance lower-body strength and endurance.

Hold a dumbbell close to your chest with both hands. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Squat down by pushing your hips back and bending your knees. Keep your chest up and your back straight. Push through the full foot to return to the starting position. Complete four sets of 12 reps.

2. Bent-Over Dumbbell Rows

Woman doing Dumbbell bent over row

Bent-over dumbbell rows are effective for sculpting the back and toning the arms. Building lean muscle through strength training helps increase the body's calorie-burning capacity.

Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing your body. Bend at your hips and knees, keeping your back flat and your chest up. Lower the dumbbells toward the ground. Pull the dumbbells to your hips by squeezing your shoulder blades together. Lower the dumbbells back to the starting position. Complete four sets of 12 reps.

3. Step-ups

dumbbell step-ups exercise

Just like bent-over dumbbell rows, step-up exercises engage multiple muscle groups, helping to build lean muscle and increase calorie burning, making them an effective addition to a weight loss and strength training routine.

Stand in front of a sturdy platform or bench with your feet hip-width apart. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, allowing your arms to hang naturally at your sides. Step one foot onto the platform, ensuring your entire foot is in contact, and push through the entire foot to lift your body up. As you straighten your elevated leg, bring your opposite knee up toward your chest. Step back down with the elevated foot, returning to the starting position. Complete four sets of 12 reps.

The Only 5 Yoga Exercises You Need To Shrink Your Belly

Workout 3: Core-Centric Exercises for Women

A strong core enhances overall stability and balance, allowing for safer and more effective exercise performance and accelerated weight loss. A well-developed core also supports proper posture, reducing the risk of injury and enhancing the body's ability to engage in calorie-burning activities. Additionally, core exercises target multiple muscle groups that help women achieve a tight, toned midsection.

1. Bicycle Crunches

woman doing bicycle crunches

Bicycle crunches are excellent for targeting the abdominal muscles, helping to create a toned and defined midsection. A strong core also supports better posture and balance.

Lie on your back with your hands behind your head. Lift your legs off the ground, and bend your knees. Bring your right elbow and left knee toward each other while straightening your right leg. Alternate by bringing your left elbow and right knee toward each other while straightening your left leg. Complete three rounds of 20 seconds.

2. Russian Twists

Russian twist with medicine ball

Russian twists are excellent for working the oblique muscles and enhancing core strength. A strong core contributes to better posture and overall stability.

Sit on the ground with your knees bent and your heels on the floor. Lean back slightly, keeping your back straight. Hold a weight or a medicine ball with both hands. Twist your torso to the right, bringing the weight or ball to the outside of your right hip. Return to the center and then twist to the left. Complete three rounds of 20 seconds.

3. Planks

high plank

Planks are crucial for strengthening the core, which contributes to better posture, enhanced stability, and improved overall strength. Core strength gained from planks can assist in various weight loss exercises and daily activities, making it a valuable addition to a fitness routine.

Begin in a pushup position with your hands directly under your shoulders and your toes on the ground. Keep your body in a straight line from head to heels, engaging your core muscles to maintain this alignment. Hold this position, focusing on keeping your abs and glutes tight to prevent your hips from sagging. Complete three rounds of 20 seconds.

10 Best Trader Joe's Frozen Foods for Weight Loss

Workout #4: Cardio Blast

Cardio helps create a calorie deficit by burning a significant number of calories during each session. It increases your heart rate and improves cardiovascular health, enhancing the efficiency of oxygen utilization in the body, which aids in fat metabolism. Additionally, consistent cardio workouts can boost overall energy expenditure, making it an effective tool for shedding excess body fat when combined with a balanced diet and strength training. Women in particular tend to burn fewer daily calories than men due to the average lower body mass and resting metabolism, so regular cardio is an excellent way to help offset this.

1. Treadmill Sprints

treadmill sprints

Treadmill sprints are a high-intensity cardio workout that effectively burns calories and accelerates fat loss. They also enhance cardiovascular endurance.

Start by walking or jogging on the treadmill to warm up. Increase the speed to a sprinting pace for 30 seconds. Slow down to a walk or jog for recovery for 60 seconds. Repeat the sprint-recovery cycle for 10 minutes, gradually increasing the time as you're able.

2. Jump Rope

jump rope

Jump rope is a fantastic full-body cardio workout that burns calories, improves coordination, and enhances endurance. It's an efficient way to get your heart rate up.

Hold the handles of the jump rope in each hand. Swing the rope over your head, and jump over it as it passes under your feet. Keep your jumps light and controlled. Begin with 10 minutes, gradually increasing in five-minute intervals each week.

3. Incline Walking

Incline walking on a treadmill is an excellent cardio workout that elevates your heart rate, burns calories, and strengthens lower-body muscles.

Begin by adjusting the treadmill's incline to a comfortable level, typically between five to 10 degrees, depending on your fitness level. Stand on the treadmill with your feet hip-width apart. Start the treadmill at a slow pace, usually around two to three mph. As the treadmill begins to incline, walk naturally, keeping your back straight and your arms swinging naturally at your sides. Maintain a steady pace and posture, engaging your core muscles. Gradually increase the incline or speed as your fitness improves. Aim for a starting duration of 10 minutes, and gradually add five minutes each week.

The 20 Worst Ways to Lose Weight

Workout #5: Yoga Burn

Yoga promotes mindfulness, reducing stress and emotional eating, which are common barriers to weight loss. From a physical standpoint, yoga improves flexibility and strength, enabling better performance in other physical activities, including calorie-burning workouts. Moreover, specific yoga poses and flows can engage and tone core muscles, aiding in the development of lean muscle mass, which in turn enhances metabolism and supports sustainable weight loss.

1. Downward-Facing Dog

downward dog

Downward-facing dog is a yoga pose that stretches and strengthens the entire body, promoting flexibility, balance, and stress reduction. It can complement other weight loss workouts.

Start on your hands and knees in a tabletop position. Lift your hips toward the ceiling, straightening your legs. Press your palms into the ground and keep your heels as close to the floor as possible. Hold the pose for 30 seconds, focusing on deep breaths. Repeat 12 times.

2. Warrior II Pose

warrior II

Warrior II is a yoga pose that helps build lower-body strength and balance. It also encourages mindfulness and body awareness, which can support healthy eating habits.

Start in a lunge position with your right foot forward and your left foot back. Turn your left foot out to the side, and align your heels. Extend your arms out to the sides at shoulder height. Bend your right knee to a 90-degree angle, keeping your knee over your ankle. Gaze over your right hand. Hold the pose for 30 seconds, focusing on deep breaths. Repeat 12 times.

3. Scorpion Pose

scorpion pose

It's important to note the scorpion pose is an advanced yoga posture that challenges balance, enhances flexibility, and strengthens the core and back muscles. You have to work your way up in order to master it, and it's always a smart idea to work with a fitness professional at first. Scorpion pose's intricate movements and deep stretches make it an excellent choice for individuals seeking to diversify their yoga practice and improve overall body awareness and control.

Begin in a prone position, lying face down on your yoga mat with your arms extended. Engage your core muscles to support your spine, and press your palms firmly into the mat. Lift your legs and hips off the ground, keeping them straight and parallel to the floor. Inhale as you bend your knees, bringing your feet toward your head. Exhale, and extend your legs upward, lifting your hips higher. Hold the pose for 20 to 30 seconds, focusing on controlled breathing and maintaining balance. Slowly return to the starting position by reversing the movement, bending your knees, and lowering your feet back to the floor. Repeat five to 10 times.

Tyler Read, BSc, CPT
Tyler Read is a personal trainer and has been involved in health and fitness for the past 15 years. Read more about Tyler