Workouts

28-Day Shape & Tone Workout Plan for Women

Are you sick of your old workout routine already? Maybe you’re a newbie in the gym and would like a little guidance to get you started. Either way, this 28-day workout routine is guaranteed to get you shaped and toned. Sounds good so far, doesn’t it?

What we’ve written is specifically for women too, because you wouldn’t believe how many cookie-cutter plans are just focused on the guys. We know, right? We’ve got goals of our own too you know. Yes, we want to be strong and toned like the guys, but our bodies aren’t always the same. So, we should probably use a plan tailored to our wants and needs.

What you need to do

Okay, so what do you actually need to do? We’ll dive right in with a big ask – hit the gym four times a week and do moderate cardio for two. Maybe that’s not much more than you’re doing already, it might even be less. But if you’re a day one beginner, it’s certainly a lot more than you’re used to.

Try to separate each weights-based workout with a day’s rest at least. Feel free to perform your moderate cardio here, or maybe unwind and recover with yoga or a gentle walk.

The 28-day plan is more like a week’s worth of workouts, repeated four times. This should give your body time to begin adjusting to each exercise and reward you with adaptations. In simpler terms, you should start to shape and tone areas like your glutes, tummy, and shoulders. Especially since you’re training each muscle group more than once a week – move over old-school bodybuilding and say hello to new-age full-body workouts. What we’re trying to say is working areas multiple times a week is a scientifically proven better method of using your gym time.

You’ll also become stronger too because it’ll be resilient and flattering muscle providing all the right shapes in all the right places. A lot of trainers who write plans think us girls just want to burn fat wherever possible and get, dare we say it, become skinny. Uh. But the truth is; building muscle helps us become shapelier, healthy, and lean anyway.

Don’t believe all the protein shake and gym membership marketing – muscle isn’t just for the guys. Our feminine hormones don’t give us the ability to (naturally) build and get bulky like men. Instead, we can build stronger bodies, including rounder butts, toned arms, a sleek stomach, and proud posture. Studies even show that having more muscle on your body increases your metabolism and helps you keep toned. Maybe we’re getting a little sidetracked here – just remember muscle is good for women, and we all need it.

Pair of black dumbbells


28-Day Shape and Tone Workout Plan for Women

  Mon Tues Wed Thurs Friday Sat Sun
Week 1 Workout A Workout B Cardio Workout C Workout A Cardio Rest
Week 2 Workout B Workout C Cardio Workout A Workout B Cardio Rest
Week 3 Workout C Workout A Cardio Workout B Workout C Cardio Rest
Week 4 Workout A Workout B Cardio Workout C Workout A Cardio Rest

Workout A

Exercise Reps Sets
Goblet squats 10 4
Hamstring curls 10 4
Dumbbell shoulder press 12 4
Dumbbell lateral lunges 8+8 3
Wide-grip pulldown 12 3
Abdominal curl 12 3

Workout B

Exercise Reps Sets
Hip thrusts 10 4
Bulgarian split squats 10 4
Caple push down 12 4
Lateral raises 12 3
Box step ups 8+8 3
Back extensions 12 3

Workout C

Exercise Reps Sets
Romanian deadlift 10 4
Bodyweight squat jumps 10 4
Seated row 12 3
Dumbbell bench press 12 3
Leg extensions 12 3
Plank 30s 3

Cardio

Exercise Time Sets
Run, Row, Bike, Swim, & Sports etc. (<80%) 30-mins 1

Don’t sweat if you’re not familiar with any or all of these exercises. We’re going to break them down in the next section.


Woman performing banded jump squats

How to do the workouts

Day 1

Goblet squat

  1. Hold a dumbbell close to your chest with elbow pointing down – just like a goblet
  2. Set your feet around shoulder-width apart, with your toes pointed out slightly.
  3. Take a deep breath in to brace your core and drop down into a squat. Keep your knees tracking outside of your big toe and your back straight.
  4. Once you reach the bottom (usually when your hamstrings are parallel to the floor) drive back up through your entire foot until you’re stood upright. It’s important to balance your driving pressure equally through your feet.
  5. Breathe out and go again.

Hamstring curls

  1. Sit in the hamstring curl machine and hold the handles. Set the knee pad to height and the leg pad to around ankle height.
  2. Hold the handles then contract your hamstrings – aka bring your heel to your butt.
  3. Take a second to squeeze the hamstrings at full contraction.
  4. Keep hold of the handles as you lower the weight back down. Maintain tension through your legs at all times by not letting the plates sit back on the stack.

Dumbbell shoulder press

  1. Take ahold of two dumbbells and safely bring them to shoulder height – palms facing forward.
  2. Take a deep breath in to brace your core and push the dumbbells overhead while breathing out. Keep your back straight, wrists straight, and shoulders pulled back. If you feel like you need to lean back, use a lighter weight.
  3. Once you’re at the top take a second before lowering the weights under control. Breathe in here, then breathe out again at the bottom.

Dumbbell lateral lunges

  1. Grab a dumbbell and hold it close to your chest. Start with feet hip-width apart and brace your core.
  2. Stride out to the left until you’re in a side lunge. Your left leg should be bent to around 90-degrees with toes pointing forward and knee outside your big toe. Keep your eyes facing forward during this movement.
  3. After landing, hold this position for a second for control and drive drop your bent leg back to the starting position. Repeat the process on the right-hand side.

Wide-grip pulldown

  1. Set the machine up with a wide-grip pully and fix the knee pad up at the right height. You should be able to sit down comfortably, knees slotted under the pads, without your body coming up when the weight is being lowered.
  2. Grab the bar with palms facing outward and hands wider than shoulder-width. Lean back around 30-degrees and pull your shoulders back and down.
  3. Now, pull the pulley bar down toward your chest – let it touch your torso. Squeeze your back before letting the machine naturally lower the cable back down.
  4. Ensure to not drop the plates back onto the stack every time. Keep the tension in your arms from the first rep to the last.

Abdominal curl

  1. Lay with your back flat on a yoga mat – feet flat on the floor. Place your hands across your chest.
  2. Contract your abs steadily to raise your shoulders two to three inches off the floor. You don’t need to crane your neck here – imagine you have a tennis ball under your chin, don’t squish it.
  3. Take a second here to squeeze the abs, then lower yourself back down slowly.

Day 2

Hip thrusts

  1. Find a bench that matches lower leg (tibia) height and set it up against a rack or wall. This should stop the bench moving. Now, pop a pad on the barbell – or a rolled-up towel if you don’t have one.
  2. Sit underneath the bar so the pad is directly above your hips. Your upper back should be resting on the edge of the padded bench and your feet flat on the floor shoulder width.
  3. Drive your hips upward by squeezing your glutes while holding the bar. At the top, your lower leg should be straight and your upper leg at around 90-degrees parallel to the floor – hips fully open. As always, your back needs to be kept flat and your core braced – avoid overextending.
  4. Lower the bar under control back to the beginning.

Bulgarian split squat

  1. Rest the top of your rear foot on a bench around knee height. Your front foot should stride out into a forward lunge.
  2. Brace your core and keep your torso upright, eyes looking forward.
  3. Descend into a split squat, making sure your knee doesn’t track inside your big toe. Your front thigh will be around horizontal to the floor at the bottom.
  4. Drive back to the top while simultaneously keeping your back straight.

Note: To add weight to this exercise, simply hold a dumbbell in each hand.

Cable triceps pushdown

  1. Use either a straight or angle bar attached to a high cable. Grab the bar using a narrow overhand grip and bring it down until you can pin your elbows into your sides – the bar should not be out in front and your forearms at 90-degrees.
  2. Stand upright with feet hip-width. Now, pin your elbows close to your sides as you push the bar down until it touches your thighs.
  3. Once the bar touches your thighs, squeeze your triceps, before returning the bar to 90-degrees.

Lateral raises

  1. Pick up two light dumbbells and hold them by your site. Stand up straight, brace your core, and look forward.
  2. Raise both arms out to the side at the same time. Keep bringing them upward until they reach shoulder height, without leaning back. You’re doing a great job if you can do this without any momentum.
  3. Lower both dumbbells at the same time under control.

Note: You’ll notice you can’t use very heavy weights to perform this exercise. Don’t worry, this is normal! It’s much better to use lighter weights with good form – it’s a real shoulder burner.

 Box step-ups

  1. Find a box just over knee height and set it on a surface where it’ll not slip. You can use a stable bench too.
  2. Place one foot flat on the box – the other flat on the floor. Drive evenly through your front foot, a little from your back foot, while keeping your torso upright. Now you’ll be stood on the box.
  3. Reverse step two by lowering your rear foot back off the box. Repeat for the desired number of reps and switch sides.

Note: To make this exercise harder, grab a set of dumbbells.

Back extensions

  1. Lay flat face down on a mat with your elbows out to the side. You can place your hands near your temples too if you like.
  2. Raise your upper back while driving your hips into the mat. Imagine a rod up your back, neck and head holding everything in alignment – try not to arch your neck backward.
  3. Take a second to squeeze your upper back muscles and glutes. Now, lower your upper body slowly to the starting position.

Day 3

Romanian deadlift

  1. Hold the barbell using a double overhand grip. Let it rest on your thighs, breathe in, brace your core for spinal support.
  2. Break at the hip and hinge backward – aka push your butt back. Keep your back straight and knees bent slightly as you let the bar hang.
  3. Lower it down in front of your shins. You’ll probably feel a pull in your hamstrings, which is when you’ll want to reverse the movement.
  4. To come back up top, maintain a flat back while driving the hips forward. This hip hinge will bring your torso back upright, with the bar following it. There’s no need to use your arms to pull the bar – imagine them as hooks instead.

Squat jumps

  1. Stand with feet around shoulder-width apart – pointed out around 15-degrees. Breathe in, brace your core, and get ready to squat.
  2. Drop into a bodyweight squat until your hamstrings are parallel to the floor. Make sure to press the knees out slightly so that they’re kept outside your big toe.
  3. Jump out of the bottom of the squat explosively – but still under control.
  4. Land softly by bending your knees, pushing them out as you descend so they don’t track inside your big toe.

Seated row

  1. Sit in the cable row machine with your legs pressed against the foot panel. Soften your knees slightly to avoid hyperextension.
  2. Attach a narrow V-bar to the low pulley and grab it with a neutral grip. Keeping your back flat, pull the cable toward your midsection until your arms are at 90-degrees. You’ll notice the handle touches your abs and can’t go any further.
  3. Squeeze your arms and back muscles before lowering the weight. Try to take the tension out of your back and arms by letting the weights rest back on the stack.

Dumbbell bench press

  1. Lay flat on your back with a dumbbell in each hand and feet firmly on the floor. Move them so they’re next to your shoulders, palms facing to in the direction of your feet, and your forearm is pointing straight upward.
  2. Press the dumbbells directly toward the ceiling until your arms are fully extended. Then, once you’re at the top, squeeze your chest and triceps before lowering the weights back down.

Note: If you have a shoulder injury, try a neutral grip. Let your palms face toward each other.

Leg extensions

  1. Sit down on the leg extension machine – lower the knee pad until it rests on top of your thighs. Your lower skin should be against the pad ready to press forward. If your knee point is smaller than 90-degrees, readjust the push pad until it isn’t. This will take unnecessary stress off the knee joint.
  2. Press your shins against the pad, while holding the handles. Extend your legs at the same time until you lift the weight from the stack.
  3. Squeeze your quads at the top before lowering the weight slowly. Keep tension through your muscles by not dropping the weight back onto the stack.

Plank

  1. Lay face-down on the floor. Clamp your fists and bring your elbows into your sides. Drive upward from them, with your upper arms directly underneath your shoulders. Tuck your toes under so your weight is on the bottom of them comfortably, not the top.
  2. Brace your core so your butt, back, neck, and head are all in a straight line. Your nose should be above your thumbs and your shoulders back and down. Try not to hunch your back or let your shoulder blades pull inward – concentrating on that straight line definitely helps here.

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