4 Circuit Training Workouts for Women [Part 2]

In the first part of this two-part article series, I showed you guys two simple circuit training workouts for women that will get you started with circuit training. To check out the first two circuit workouts, go to Part 1 here. Today, I’m going to show you two more circuit training workouts that are a little more challenging and require a few more pieces of equipment. 

circuit training workouts for womenRemember that circuit training is one of the most effective forms of training for building a stronger, slimmer and better body. Once you understand how it works, you can start substituting your own exercises and begin creating your own circuit workouts – this is where things get really fun. The options are endless and so this type of training will never get boring.

You’re only limited by your imagination.

Today, we got two more circuit training workouts for women to get through. Just remember to keep challenging yourself. Always strive to step outside of your comfort zone.


Let’s get to work.

3) Dumbbell Circuit Training Workout

This circuit training workout requires a solid set of dumbbells.

Important note: Please don’t be afraid to go a little heavier than what you’re used to. I’m tired of seeing women using 5lb dumbbells because they’re afraid of ‘getting big’. I guarantee you that this will not happen, otherwise we’d all be walking around looking like Arnold.

Grab yourself a nice challenging set of dumbbells. The workout itself is quite challenging so make sure your technique is on point.

Exercise 1 – Renegade Rows

Focus: Core

This is one of the most challenging core strengthening exercises on the planet. But the results speak for themselves. Get into pushup position, set your dumbbells under your shoulders and grip them firmly. Keep your body in line and completely tight and rigid. Your feet should be slightly more than shoulder width apart (note: the farther apart, the easier the exercise).

One arm at a time, bring the dumbbell up to your chest (slowly) and bring it back down without twisting your body. Perform the same movement with the other arm. Be sure to keep your wrist straight as you press into the bottom dumbbell because you’ll be putting a lot of pressure on it.

Note: This is a very difficult exercise to pull off if you’ve never done it before. If this is the case, start without dumbbells and perform the same movement by simply keeping your body tight and bringing one hand towards your chest at a time. Then progress to dumbbells.

renegade rows

Perform: 20 repetitions total (10 each arm)

Exercise 2 – Step Ups

Focus: Glutes, Hamstrings, Quads

After you’ve tortured your core, you’re going to move directly to torturing your legs. You’ll need a bench or some sort of platform that is 1-2 ft high (the higher the platform, the more challenging the exercise). Hold your set of dumbbells by your side and face the bench. Raise one leg and step up on the platform and propel yourself up so you’re standing on it. Lower yourself back down and perform the same movement with the other leg. Obviously, the higher the step, the more challenging the exercise. This is a great exercise for developing your legs and your butt.

step ups

Perform: 20 repetitions total (10 each leg)

Exercise 3 – Reverse Flys

Focus: Back, Shoulders (posterior)

Moving on to the back. Grab a lighter set of dumbbells for this one. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent, hips hinged so you’re sitting back and your are bending over (so your upper body is near parallel to the ground). Make sure your back is not rounded. Stick your chest up and facing forwards. Hold the dumbbells and allow them to hang by your knees. Now, bring both arms up by retracting and squeezing your shoulder blades (see picture for reference). Really focus on squeezing those shoulders blades back on each repetition.

reverse flys

Perform: 15 repetitions

Exercise 4 – Alternating Dumbbell Chest Press on Stability Ball

Focus: Chest, Triceps, Shoulders, Core

Now that you’re done strengthening your back, we’re moving straight to an exercise that will develop functional strength in your chest, triceps and shoulders. You’ll need a stability ball for this one. Lie face up on the stability ball so that your shoulder blades are at the top of the ball. Your feet should be flat on the floor and your hips should be up high. Hold the dumbbells to the side with your elbows out wide. Now, one arm at a time, press the dumbbell up. Continue alternating the pressing arm. Aim for a 2 second lowering period and a 1 second pressing period.

alternating chest press

Perform: 20 repetitions total (10 each arm)

Exercise 5 – Goblet Squat

Focus: Quads, Glutes, Hamstrings

Like I mentioned in the Ultimate Lower Body Workout for Women, the goblet squat is probably the most effective exercise for developing strong legs. Grab a dumbbell by one end and hold it close to your chest. Your feet should be slightly past shoulder width apart and toes should be slightly pointed out. Start each squat by hinging at your hips and sitting back into the squat. Keep your chest up and head forwards.

goblet squat

Perform: 15 repetitions

Exercise 6 – Dumbbell Punches

Focus: Shoulders, Cardiovascular System

This is a great exercise to use to finish up any circuit training workout. Grab a really light set of dumbbells. Get into a stance where your feet are shoulder width apart, with one foot slightly in front of the other (whichever feels more natural). Bring the dumbbells to your chin, your elbows tucked in (not flaring out wide). Now, one arm at a time, begin punching straight out in front of you at a fast, but controlled, pace. You’ll feel a burn in your shoulders like you’ve never felt before (the heavier the dumbbells, the more challenging the exercise).

Perform: 60 seconds

Perform: 3 circuits with 2-3 minutes of rest between

4) Kettlebell Circuit Training Workout

This is where things get really challenging! Kettlebells are probably the most effective tool for building a lean and functionally strong body and I highly recommend you invest in one. This circuit training workout only consists of 5 exercises but will put your heart rate through the roof. Working with kettlebells is highly dynamic and is unlike any other form of training you’ve done before.

A word of caution: Kettlebells are extremely effective for building a functionally strong, lean, sexy physique. But this is only if done correctly. Kettlebell training is very dynamic and unlike anything you’ve done before so it is imperative that you first learn the fundamental kettlebell movements before attempting this circuit training workout. My Ultimate Kettlebell Training Guide will help, but finding a certified instructor will be even better.

Exercise 1 – Kettlebell Swing

Focus: Cardiovascular System, Posterior Chain, Arms

Grab your kettlebell with both hands firmly. Stand with your feet slightly shoulder width apart, chest up, and head facing forward. Let the kettlebell hang between your legs. In a dynamic manner, begin swinging the kettlebell up to eye level. The trick here is to use the momentum created by driving the hips forward. You are not to be using your arms to pull the kettlebell up, only your hips. Make sure your back is straight (not rounded) at all times throughout this movement. This is an excellent exercise for developing your posterior-chain, your core and your overall cardiovascular fitness.

kettlebell swing

Perform: 60 seconds of swings

Exercise 2 – Kettlebell Rack and Press

Focus: Shoulders, Core (lateral), Stabilizing Muscles

This is a challenging exercise but it’s a great way to challenge the lateral musculature of your core. It’s also great for developing your shoulders. Grab the dumbbell with one hand and stand with your feet shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent.  Let the kettlebell hang between your legs as you bend over. Make sure your back is straight, chest is up and head is facing forwards. Using momentum created by driving your hips forwards, pull the kettlebell up and upside down and balance it. Hold for 1-2 seconds and press up over your head. Bring it back down to shoulder height and let it swing back to between your legs. Repeat.

Check out this video demonstration of the exercise (go to 1:55 min)

Perform: 20 repetitions total (10 each arm)

Exercise 3 – Goblet Squat

Focus: Quads, Glutes, Hamstrings

Just like I mentioned in the circuit training workout #3, the goblet squat is probably the most effective exercise for developing strong legs. Grab your kettlebell by the handles and hold it close to your chest (the picture below shows a dumbbell, but it’s the same technique). Your feet should be slightly past shoulder width apart and toes should be slightly pointed out. Start each squat by hinging at your hips and sitting back into the squat. Keep your chest up and head forwards. Aim at gowing down slowly (2-3 seconds) and exploding up (1 second).

goblet squat

Perform: 20 repetitions

Exercise 4 – Kettlebell Swing

Focus: Cardiovascular System, Posterior Chain, Arms

We’re going right back to the kettlebell swing (I like to use this one A LOT in circuit training workouts). Read the description for exercise 1.

Perform: 60 seconds

Exercise 5 – Russian Twists

Focus: Core

This is an excellent core strengthening exercise for completing this circuit workout. Sit down on the floor, lean back and raise your legs off the ground. Hold the kettlebell by your abdominals with both hands. Start moving the kettlebell from side to side by twisting your upper body. Move at a controlled pace.

Perform: 60 seconds

Perform: 3 circuits with 2-3 minutes of rest between

There you have it ladies – two more circuit training workouts you can incorporate into your workouts.

As I promised, I’ve created a pdf file for you to print out and bring with you to the gym (or to use at home) as a reference, so I hope it helps.

Click here to download

Keep in mind, however, that once you understand the principles behind circuit training, you can start developing your own workouts. You can substitute your own exercises, combine unique training styles, or mix up different types of equipment to create some incredibly challenging routines.

Just make sure you’re always challenging yourself. Always strive to step outside your comfort zone, even if it’s just a little bit.

I hope you enjoyed the two-part circuit training workouts for women article series. If you have any comments or suggestions, or would like to share some of your own circuit training workout ideas, please share them in the comment section below.

Alykhan - Fitness Breakout - June 18, 2012


Great post. Circuit training is a great way to save time and get a good full body workout in. I like to do these every once in a while, myself.


    Srdjan Popovic - June 20, 2012

    Alykhan – it’s true. Even though I’ve kind of dedicated them to women in this post, these workouts are definitely effective for anybody. I do them myself every now and then.

Shaneka - June 19, 2012

Another goodie 🙂 thanks

Ron tabata - June 25, 2012

I like your fantastic web site. Just what I was searching for!
Best regards, Ron

Troy @ Formulated Fitness - July 1, 2012

I believe that all women could transform their body in 4-8 weeks with doing this Interval Training twice a week, plyometric twice a week, and a few functional leg exercises such as step ups, lunges, and leg press worked in between!

Great Post!

    Srdjan Popovic - July 3, 2012

    Troy – this type of training with a solid nutrition plan can yield some fantastic results.

      Troy @ Formulated Fitness - July 3, 2012

      It has really done wonders for my fitness levels and body fat. Since I started incorporating my old plyometric exercises from my basketball training into my routine I have cut my body fat from 9 percent to about 5 percent.

      High intensity interval training and plyometrics is a killer combo!

        Srdjan Popovic - July 7, 2012

        You got down to 5%? That’s crazy! I haven’t done plyometrics in some time but it goes to show the power of it.

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