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Designing Your Own Workout Program for Strength & Healthy Aging!


Designing your own bodyweight workout program in midlife

If you're a woman approaching or in peri/menopause it has never been MORE IMPORTANT to start a strength training program if you haven't already. In fact, women who have a higher proportion of lean muscle mass on their body in midlife and beyond can avoid many of the common pitfalls of aging from disease to senescence.



The science on this for women is CRYSTAL CLEAR.


The more lean, strong muscle you have as you get older, the better you will likely fare.


With that said, where do you get started designing your own bodyweight workout program (or program using weights?


I've put together some tips for you if you are interested in learning how to begin designing your own workout program for strength & healthy aging!


So let's dive in!


Designing a 3-Day-Per-Week Bodyweight Workout Program for Women Over 40


  1. Set Clear Goals:

    • Define your primary goals, such as building lean muscle, burning fat, improving strength, or increasing overall fitness.

    • Keep in mind the desire for shorter workouts, so focus on exercises that provide maximum efficiency.


  1. Warm-up Routine:

    • Begin each workout with a dynamic warm-up to increase blood flow, loosen muscles, and prepare the body for exercise.

    • Incorporate movements like arm circles, leg swings, walking lunges, bodyweight squats, and shoulder rolls for 5-10 minutes.


  1. Exercise Selection:

    • Choose a variety of exercises that target different muscle groups and provide a full-body workout.

    • Opt for compound exercises that engage multiple muscles simultaneously to maximize calorie burn and muscle recruitment.

    • Examples of effective bodyweight exercises include push-ups, squats, lunges, planks, mountain climbers, burpees, step-ups, tricep dips, and glute bridges.


  1. Circuit Training Approach:

    • Structure your workouts as circuits to keep them time-efficient and maintain an elevated heart rate.

    • Perform each exercise back-to-back with minimal rest between exercises.

    • Aim for 3-4 circuits per workout, with 8-12 repetitions of each exercise.


  1. Intensity and Progression:

    • Focus on high intensity during the workout to challenge your muscles and cardiovascular system.

    • As you become more comfortable and stronger, gradually increase the intensity by adding repetitions, sets, or reducing rest periods.

    • Keep challenging yourself to avoid plateaus and continue making progress.


  1. Rest and Recovery:

    • Allow for adequate rest between exercises and circuits to maintain good form and prevent overexertion.

    • Rest for 30-60 seconds between exercises and 1-2 minutes between circuits.

    • Listen to your body and modify or adjust exercises as needed to avoid injury.


women's strength training programs and plans in midlife and perimenopause
Be Strong

Sample 3-Day-Per-Week Bodyweight Workout Program: Day 1:

  • Circuit 1:

    1. Push-ups

    2. Bodyweight Squats

    3. Walking Lunges

    4. Plank


  • Circuit 2:

    1. Mountain Climbers

    2. Glute Bridges

    3. Tricep Dips

    4. Bicycle Crunches


Day 2:

  • Circuit 1:

    1. Burpees

    2. Reverse Lunges

    3. Push-ups (Modified on knees if needed)

    4. Side Plank


  • Circuit 2:

    1. Jumping Jacks

    2. Step-ups

    3. Superman

    4. Russian Twists


Day 3:

  • Circuit 1:

    1. Squat Jumps

    2. Incline Push-ups (using a bench or elevated surface)

    3. Side Lunges

    4. Plank with Shoulder Taps


  • Circuit 2:

    1. High Knees

    2. Tricep Push-ups

    3. Bridge

    4. Leg Raises



  1. Cool-down and Stretching:

    • After completing the circuits, finish each workout with a cool-down phase.

    • Engage in static stretching to improve flexibility and aid in recovery.

    • Target major muscle groups with stretches such as standing quad stretches, hamstring stretches, chest stretches, and calf stretches.


Sample 20 minute Lower Body Workout (requires light dumbbells - or you can do bodyweight only):

Exercise 1: Dumbbell Squats (4 sets x 10 reps)

  • Hold a dumbbell in each hand at your sides.

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.

  • Bend your knees and lower your hips as if sitting back into a chair, keeping your chest up and back straight.

  • Pause briefly at the bottom, then push through your heels to return to the starting position.



Exercise 2: Dumbbell Lunges (3 sets x 12 reps per leg)

  • Hold a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing your sides.

  • Take a step forward with your right leg, lowering your body until your right knee forms a 90-degree angle.

  • Push through your right heel to return to the starting position.

  • Repeat on the other leg, alternating sides.



Exercise 3: Dumbbell Romanian Deadlifts (3 sets x 12 reps)

  • Hold a dumbbell in each hand in front of your thighs, palms facing your body.

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart and a slight bend in your knees.

  • Hinge at your hips and lower the dumbbells toward the floor while keeping your back flat and chest up.

  • Lower until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings, then squeeze your glutes and push through your heels to return to the starting position.



Exercise 4: Dumbbell Calf Raises (3 sets x 15 reps)

  • Hold a dumbbell in each hand at your sides, palms facing your body.

  • Stand on the edge of a step or elevated surface with your heels hanging off the edge.

  • Raise your heels as high as possible, lifting your body onto your tiptoes.

  • Pause at the top, then lower your heels back down to the starting position.



Exercise 5: Dumbbell Glute Bridges (3 sets x 12 reps)

  • Lie flat on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor, holding a dumbbell on your hips.

  • Drive through your heels and lift your hips off the ground, squeezing your glutes at the top.

  • Pause for a second, then slowly lower your hips back down to the starting position.



Exercise 6: Dumbbell Step-Ups (3 sets x 12 reps per leg)

  • Hold a dumbbell in each hand at your sides.

  • Stand facing a step or elevated platform.

  • Step your right foot onto the step, pressing through your heel to lift your body up.

  • Bring your left foot up onto the step, then step back down with your right foot.



Sa,mple 20-minute upper body workout that targets the shoulders, back, chest, and arms using dumbbells:



Exercise 1: Push-Ups (3 sets x 10-12 reps)

  • Start in a high plank position with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.

  • Lower your body down by bending your elbows, keeping your core engaged and your back straight.

  • Push through your palms to extend your arms and return to the starting position.




Exercise 2: Dumbbell Shoulder Press (4 sets x 10 reps)

  • Sit or stand with a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing forward, and elbows bent at 90 degrees.

  • Press the dumbbells overhead, extending your arms fully without locking your elbows.

  • Lower the dumbbells back down to the starting position with control.




Exercise 3: Bent-Over Rows (3 sets x 12 reps)

  • Hold a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing your body, and hinge forward at the hips with a slight bend in your knees.

  • Keep your back flat and core engaged as you pull the dumbbells up toward your chest, squeezing your shoulder blades together.

  • Lower the dumbbells back down in a controlled manner.




Exercise 4: Dumbbell Chest Press (3 sets x 12 reps)

  • Lie on a bench or the floor with a dumbbell in each hand, elbows bent at a 90-degree angle, and palms facing forward.

  • Push the dumbbells up toward the ceiling, extending your arms fully without locking your elbows.

  • Lower the dumbbells back down to chest level, maintaining control.




Exercise 5: Dumbbell Bicep Curls (3 sets x 12 reps)

  • Stand with a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing forward, and arms fully extended by your sides.

  • Keeping your elbows close to your body, curl the dumbbells up toward your shoulders, contracting your biceps.

  • Slowly lower the dumbbells back down to the starting position.




Exercise 6: Tricep Dips (3 sets x 12 reps)

  • Sit on the edge of a bench or chair and place your hands shoulder-width apart, fingers gripping the edge.

  • Walk your feet forward and lower your body off the edge of the bench, keeping your elbows slightly bent.

  • Bend your elbows to lower your body down, then push through your hands to extend your arms and return to the starting position.


Designing Your Own Workout Program for Strength & Healthy Aging!

Still not sure where to start but know that you need to?

I do offer a custom online fitness program service which has been one of my most popular services for over a dozen years now that have been women great results in a DIY fashion.



Learn more about those --> HERE.



If you have any questions please reach out!



Yours in health,

Julie xo

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