9 Moves and 9 Weight Weight Loads Every Woman Should Do

building muscle strength training watch (videos) Jan 22, 2022

Progressive resistance is hands down the most effective physical activity for increasing your metabolism, reducing and reversing injuries, and improving overall strength and resilience.

This is especially true for women. And it’s even more true for women over 37.

Over the 30 years that I’ve been coaching women, I consistently hear the desire for my clients to feel stronger, tighter, leaner, and oftentimes smaller. In my experience, the only way to achieve these things is through progressive resistance.

Around the age of 37, estrogen begins to fluctuate. This causes a cascade of biological changes impacting your hormones, neurotransmitters, carbohydrate metabolism, and even the structures of your body. Much of these changes come because estrogen is a powerful anti inflammatory agent.


Strength training in the form of progressive resistance is the best (and might I add, the ONLY) way to…

  • Maintain estrogen levels
  • Increase your natural production of testosterone
  • Protect and improve your joints
  • Reshape your body and create the physique that you want
  • Improve how your body responds to the carbohydrates that you eat
  • Avoid the weight gain that often comes with aging
  • Reduce body fat
  • Increase lean muscle mass


Progressive resistance is the ongoing practice of exposing your body to more challenging effort levels that specifically pertain to your muscular strength. 

When I wrote my book Lift to Get Lean, my editor was pushing me to create a list of the most important exercises women need, and the corresponding weight loads. At the time I was resistant because there is great variability in exercise equipment and gym machines.

As the years continue, I’ve come around to seeing that there are some specific weight loads that every woman should be able to do. For example, if you can perform a dumbbell side raise comfortably with 5-8 pound dumbbells, you’re more likely to avoid shoulder injuries, neck issues, and general weakness when lifting heavy objects overhead.

So I set out to create a list of the 9 exercises that I believe every woman should be doing every week, and the corresponding weight loads. 

If you can gradually work your ability up to these weight loads over time, you’ll walk through life feeling much stronger, more capable, and highly energized.

The goal is to be able to achieve all of the weight loads below at the same time. You may find that you’re currently able to perform 1 or 2 of the moves below at the target weight load. And that’s great! Now, keep going, and over the next weeks or months, work hard to increase your effort level so that you can achieve the weight loads for all of the moves below. 

As my book Lift to Get Lean explains, the first rule of building strength is “Technique Trumps All.” This means that it’s important to master your technique at your current ability while conservatively striving to use heavier weights.

There is a direct relationship between your strength and your health. The greater your strength, the better your health.

In your quest to increase your effort levels, aim for 10-12 repetitions of each move, where the last two repetitions are hard, and you begin to lose your excellent technique. Gradually over time you’ll be able to complete all reps with great form, and that’s your cue to use a heavier load.

The weight loads below are what I consider the “minimum effective dose” for each move. Your first goal is to achieve the weight loads below. Then, the sky's the limit, and I encourage you to strive for heavier weights.


9 Moves and 9 Weight Loads Every Woman Should Do

Goblet Squat - Body weight + 30 lbs

Dumbbell Side Raise - 8 lbs, with excellent technique

Reverse Grip Lat Pulldown or Chin Ups - 70 lbs or 10 body weight chin ups

Barbell Deadlift - 85 lbs

Single Leg Deadlift - 15 lb dumbbell for 15 reps on each leg

Straight Arm Plank - 2 minutes without rest

Walking Lunges - Body weight only for 5 minutes, without rest

Barbell Overhead Press - 35 lbs

Bench Step Ups - body weight + 30 lbs

You’re stronger than you know. Strength training will help you feel empowered and invincible. Go for it!


Stay strong, friend.

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