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5 Must-Try Freeweight Workouts for Women

beautiful women doing squat
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There's a wealth of exercise options to choose from in the world of fitness. 

Whether you're aiming to build strength, tone muscles, or simply stay active, incorporating freeweight exercises into your routine can yield excellent results. 

Freeweight exercises utilise equipment like dumbbells, kettlebells, and barbells, offering a versatile and effective way to work out various muscle groups. 

In this blog, we'll explore five must-try freeweight workouts tailored specifically for women.

1. Squats

Strengthen Your Lower Body

Squats are a fundamental freeweight exercise that targets multiple muscle groups, primarily focusing on the legs and glutes. 

To perform a squat, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding a dumbbell or kettlebell in each hand at shoulder height or by your sides. 

Lower your body by bending your knees and pushing your hips back as if you're sitting down into a chair. 

Keep your chest up and your back straight. 

Aim to lower until your thighs are parallel to the ground, then push through your heels to return to the starting position. 

Incorporating squats into your routine can help build lower body strength and improve overall stability.

2. Deadlifts


Build Back and Core Strength

Deadlifts are an excellent compound exercise that targets the muscles of the back, glutes, hamstrings, and core. 

Begin by standing with your feet hip-width apart, holding a barbell or pair of dumbbells in front of your thighs with an overhand grip. 

Keeping your back straight, hinge at the hips and lower the weights towards the ground while bending your knees slightly. 

Engage your core and keep the weights close to your body as you push through your heels to stand back up, extending your hips and knees. 

Deadlifts are effective for strengthening the posterior chain and improving posture.

3. Lunges

lady doing lunges

Enhance Leg Strength and Stability

Lunges are a versatile freeweight exercise that targets the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes while also improving balance and stability. 

Begin by standing tall with a dumbbell in each hand, arms hanging by your sides. 

Take a step forward with one leg, lowering your body until both knees are bent at a 90-degree angle, with your back knee hovering just above the ground. 

Ensure your front knee is aligned with your ankle and your torso remains upright. 

Push through the heel of your front foot to return to the starting position, then repeat on the opposite side. 

Lunges can be performed in various directions to target different muscles and challenge your balance.

4. Bent-Over Rows

Strengthen Your Upper Back

Bent-over rows are an effective freeweight exercise for targeting the muscles of the upper back, including the rhomboids, traps, and rear deltoids. 

Begin by holding a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing your body, and hinge forward at the hips while keeping your back straight. 

Let the dumbbells hang at arm's length towards the ground. 

Engage your core and pull the dumbbells towards your ribcage, squeezing your shoulder blades together at the top of the movement. 

Lower the weights back down with control and repeat. Bent-over rows help improve posture and strengthen the muscles responsible for scapular retraction.

5. Shoulder Press

Tone and Define Your Shoulders

The shoulder press is a classic freeweight exercise that targets the deltoid muscles of the shoulders, helping to sculpt and define your upper body. 

Begin by sitting or standing with a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing forward, and elbows bent at a 90-degree angle. 

Press the weights overhead by extending your arms until they are fully extended, but not locked out, overhead. 

Lower the weights back down with control to the starting position and repeat. Shoulder presses can also be performed using a barbell or kettlebells for variation. 

Incorporating this exercise into your routine can help improve shoulder strength and stability.

Reach Your Fitness Goals With Freeweight Workouts

Freeweight exercises offer women a range of benefits, from building strength and muscle tone to improving balance and stability. 

By incorporating exercises like squats, deadlifts, lunges, bent-over rows, and shoulder presses into your routine, you can target multiple muscle groups and work towards achieving your fitness goals. 

Remember to start with lighter weights and focus on proper form to reduce the risk of injury. 

Whether you're a beginner or a seasoned lifter, freeweight exercises provide a versatile and effective way to challenge your body and enhance your overall fitness level. 

So, why not give these five must-try freeweight workouts for women a try in your next gym session?

Now, let’s answer some common questions when it comes to freeweight exercises for women.

What weight training is best for women?

When it comes to weight training for women, there isn't a one-size-fits-all answer because the best weight training program depends on individual goals, fitness level, and preferences. 

However, some key principles can guide women in choosing effective weight training exercises:

Compound Movements

Exercises that work multiple muscle groups simultaneously, such as squats, deadlifts, lunges, and bench presses, are beneficial for women. 

Compound movements maximise muscle engagement and calorie burn, making them efficient for strength and muscle building.

Progressive Overload

Gradually increasing the weight lifted over time is essential for stimulating muscle growth and strength gains. 

Women can start with lighter weights and gradually progress to heavier weights as they become stronger and more comfortable with the exercises.

Focus on Form

Proper form is crucial for preventing injuries and maximising the effectiveness of weight training exercises. 

Women should prioritise maintaining good posture and alignment throughout each movement, even if it means using lighter weights initially.

Balance and Variety

Incorporating a variety of exercises that target different muscle groups ensures a well-rounded workout routine. 

Women can include exercises for the upper body, lower body, and core to promote overall strength and muscular balance.

Listen to Your Body

Women should pay attention to how their body responds to different exercises and adjust their training accordingly. 

It's essential to rest when needed and avoid pushing through pain or discomfort that could indicate an injury.

The best weight training program for women is one that is tailored to their individual goals, preferences, and physical capabilities. 

Consulting with a qualified fitness professional can help women design a personalised workout plan that meets their needs and helps them achieve their desired results.

For personalised guidance and a tailored workout plan, consider connecting with Primal Strength & Movement Lisburn Gym. 

Our certified personal trainers offer one-on-one coaching and expertise to help you reach your fitness goals effectively and safely. 

Connect today to start on your journey to a stronger, healthier you.

Is 5kg dumbbells good for beginners women?

Yes, 5 kg dumbbells can be suitable for beginners, including women, depending on their individual fitness level and goals.

For someone new to weight training or with limited strength, 5kg dumbbells can provide an appropriate starting point for performing exercises such as bicep curls, shoulder presses, tricep extensions, and lateral raises. 

These weights allow beginners to focus on mastering proper form and technique without risking injury or overexertion.

As beginners progress and their strength improves, they can gradually increase the weight of the dumbbells to continue challenging their muscles and promoting further strength gains. 

It's essential to listen to your body and avoid using weights that are too heavy, as this can lead to improper form and potential injury.

The most important factor is to choose a weight that allows you to perform each exercise with correct form and complete the desired number of repetitions with some level of difficulty. 

If 5 kg dumbbells feel manageable but challenging, they can be an excellent choice for beginners looking to start their weight training journey.

What type of exercise is free weight?

Freeweight exercise refers to a type of strength training exercise that utilises external resistance in the form of free weights, such as dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells, and weight plates. 

Unlike machines, which have a fixed range of motion and often guide the movement, freeweight exercises require the lifter to stabilise and control the weight throughout the entire range of motion.

Freeweight exercises can include a wide variety of movements that target different muscle groups, such as squats, deadlifts, lunges, bench presses, rows, shoulder presses, and curls. 

These exercises can be performed in various positions, including standing, seated, or lying down, allowing for versatility in workout routines.

One of the advantages of freeweight exercises is that they engage stabilising muscles and require coordination and balance, leading to functional strength gains that can benefit everyday activities. 

Also, freeweight exercises allow for a greater range of motion compared to machines, enabling the lifter to work muscles through their full range of movement.

Overall, freeweight exercises are a popular choice for strength training because they offer versatility, functional strength benefits, and the ability to customise workouts to individual fitness goals and preferences.

What is the best weight for free weights?

The best weight for free weights depends on several factors, including an individual's fitness level, goals, and the specific exercise being performed. 

Here are some general guidelines to help determine the appropriate weight for free weight exercises:

Personal Fitness Level

Beginners should start with lighter weights to focus on mastering proper form and technique. 

As strength and confidence increase, gradually progress to heavier weights to continue challenging the muscles.

Exercise Selection

Different exercises target various muscle groups and may require different weights. 

For example, exercises like bicep curls and lateral raises typically use lighter weights compared to compound movements like squats and deadlifts.

Repetition Range

The number of repetitions (reps) and sets performed in a workout also influence the weight selection. 

For building strength and muscle size (hypertrophy), aim for 8–12 reps per set with a weight that becomes challenging by the last few reps. 

For improving muscular endurance, use lighter weights and perform higher reps (15-20+).

Comfort and Safety

Choose a weight that feels challenging but allows you to maintain proper form throughout the exercise. 

Avoid weights that are too heavy and compromise technique, as this can increase the risk of injury.


Continuously challenge yourself by gradually increasing the weight lifted as strength improves. 

Progressive overload is essential for stimulating muscle growth and strength gains over time.

It's essential to listen to your body and adjust the weight accordingly. 

It's okay to start with lighter weights and progressively increase them as you become stronger and more comfortable with the exercises. 

Consulting with a fitness professional or personal trainer can also provide personalised guidance on weight selection and proper technique.

At Primal Strength & Movement Lisburn Gym, you can trust in expert guidance to support your fitness journey every step of the way. 

Our certified personal trainers offer one-on-one coaching, providing individualised attention to help you achieve your fitness goals effectively and safely. 

With tailored training sessions in Lisburn, our personalised approach ensures that your unique needs and preferences are addressed, helping you maximise your results and enjoy a fulfilling fitness experience.

Written by Pól Murray

Pól Murray boasts 15 years of coaching experience, with a decade dedicated to Strength and Movement. His journey started as a professional MMA fighter, evolving into a respected coach, notably guiding Ireland's first UFC fighter. Pól holds a wealth of qualifications from kettlebell and barbell instruction to suspension and resistance training. He emphasises that true expertise is a journey of continuous learning, investing significantly in education from renowned coaches and organisations. Pól simplifies fitness for everyone, believing it's about moving, feeling, and looking better. His lifelong dedication to well-being ensures those he guides achieve their best.

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