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Weight Lifting for Women – The Lifts You Need to Know

If you’re starting out on your weight lifting journey, or are a regular in the gym, there are a few lifts you simply have to know. Our guide on weight lifting for women will help you find out more about the essentials. 

Whatever your goals, learning a few key lifts is a great way to build the foundations of a transformational fitness routine. Essentially, ladies lifting is no different to mens, but having spoken to some of our readers, we’ve found that there are a few specific movements you were interested to know more about.

Furthermore, it’s important you learn the basics of some lifts, to ensure you’ve got the foundations for good, safe training.

Weight lifting for women is an amazing way to boost your fitness levels and change your physique. With more muscle on your frame you can shape your body, burn more fat and improve your overall health.

Read on for:

  • Why weight lifting for women is important
  • Squat
  • Deadlift
  • Bench Press
  • Lunges
  • Hip Thrust
  • Shoulder Press

Why weight lifting for women is important

Unfortunately, so many women forgo weight lifting, as they thing it can make them bulky and masculine. We’re here to tell you that, unless you’re taking some kind of anabolic steroid, that simply isn’t the case. A female fitness revolution is taking over the industry and women everywhere are discovering that lifting weights is a fantastic way to stay healthy and craft an enviable physique.

Growing strength and muscle is a great way to improve your body, but it goes far beyond just aesthetic. Let’s check out exactly why weight lifting for women is so important.

First up, muscle takes more calories to maintain [1], which means it immediately boosts your overall calorie burn and metabolism. That means, the more muscle you have, the more fat burning potential your body has.

Not only does that help you to lose fat if that’s your goal, this has numerous benefits for your health [2]. Let’s take a closer look at what they are:

  1. With the right diet, developing muscle through weight lifting can lower blood pressure so your cardiovascular health is greatly improved.
  2. Regular strength training can help to combat the feelings of anxiety and stress, giving your mental health a boost, by releasing feel-good hormones.
  3. With more muscle on your frame, you’ll increase your resting metabolic rate, which is great for weight loss and overall health.
  4. A more muscular physique has also been linked to increased bone density, which is always great for promoting general health, fitness and strength. It can also significantly reduce your chance of developing injuries, as your body has a much stronger structure.
  5. Women who engage in regular strength training were also found to have a 40% lower chance of type 2 diabetes [3]

As you can see, there are some pretty significant benefits to women’s lifting. As such, we really recommend trying to include some heavy lifting in your regular workout routines. It’s not just about feeling stronger and fitter, it’s about thinking about your overall health and fitness in the long run too.

So, without further ado, let’s look at some examples of ladies weightlifting movements that can help you to get started and build some skill and experience.

From leg workouts to a full body session, we’ve got you covered with some essential movements that are key to weight lifting for women. Furthermore, we’ve also included links to some guides to help you perform the movements safely and effectively. Click on them to ensure you’re hitting the perfect form every time. 

[Related Article: Muscle Gain for Women – 6 Game-Changing Things to Try]


woman with barbell on her back

Everyone knows squats are good for you. It’s one of the best compound movements you can do for your lower body and is a staple of just about every half decent legs workout.

It recruits a huge number of muscles throughout your legs, including quads, glutes and hamstrings. What’s more, when you add weight to the movement, it can help work your core and back muscles too.

Once you’ve got the bodyweight squat nailed, you can move on to weighted variations. This is where you really start growing strength and shape in your muscles.

The front squat puts the load through your quads, helping you craft shapely legs. Opt for the back squat and you’ll feel the burn through your butt more.

We know a lot of women out there have the aim of toning and shaping their legs. If that sounds like you, drilling the squat is a great way to get started.

Check out our guide on how to squat here. 


Mastering the deadlift is an amazing way to work your body from head to toe – it’s the queen of all compound movements and recruits more muscles than any other movement. 

Getting your form nailed on the deadlift gives you access to a whole new world of gains. From your back to your hamstrings, this movement recruits a huge amount of muscle to work in a functional way. By drilling deadlifts on the regular you can grow strength and power throughout your body.

In the modern day, it’s more important than ever to drill your deadlifts. So many of us sit at desks all day, weakening the essential muscles we need to keep our bodies strong – the posterior chain. The deadlift works all of these areas, helping to keep your body working like a well-oiled machine, which it’s why it’s on our list of essential ladies weight lifting movements you can’t miss out on. 

Check out our guide on how to deadlift here. 

Bench Press

When it comes to weight lifting for women, so many of us shy away from the bench press. Fair enough, the benches are usually guy territory and it can feel like a lot of men linger around here in the gym, but every girl should be out there smashing out a few reps too.

This is another compound movement and a fantastic way to get your upper body working hard in a functional way. It pulls in your chest muscles, shoulders and arms for an all over upper body burn. It’s a staple for any good ladies weight lifting training session. 

The bench press is also one of the big three lifts in powerlifting, so if you’re looking to craft strength and toned muscle in your upper body, getting this one nailed is a must.

The bench press and upper body movements in general are also really important in creating a well-rounded, balanced physique. So while it might seem intimidating at the gym, we really recommend trying it.

Check out our guide on how to bench press here. 


For a lot of women, weight lifting is about developing shape and power in the lower body. If that sounds familiar to you, you need some lunges in your life. They’re the staple of every good booty session and something you need to have in your arsenal if you want to get that peachy look.

This movement puts your glutes right in the firing line, so you can grow strength and size in your butt. Add weight to this movement and you’ve got even more muscle-building potential right at your fingertips.

With this movement you’ve got options too. Whether you’re going for a reverse lunge or a walking lunge, it will help you grow and shape your booty. If you’re feel like you really want that butt to burn, check out the split squat. You’re welcome. 

Check out our guide on how to do lunges right here.

Shoulder Press

women performing a shoulder press

This movement is another staple of a good upper body workout. It pulls in all three heads of your deltoid, along with a range of muscles in your arms to provide a thorough and effective upper body burn.

This is essential, as the muscles within your shoulders are some of the most easily injured and highly fragile in your body. It’s very easy to damage the rotator cuff or one of the deltoid heads in another lift or sport if they don’t have strong muscle shoring them up.

That’s where the shoulder press comes in. By drilling this movement on the regular, you can build the right muscles to create a strong and stable upper body.

Check out our guide on how to do a shoulder press (military press).

Hip Thrust

This is another game changer for booty gains. The hip thrust is about as close to glute isolation as you can get and it helps to build size and shape unlike any other movement.

It places load directly over the hips so your glutes are taking all the weight. So, whether you need to work on building strength in your butt or growing size, this is a great way to turn up the heat.

Mastering technique in this movement is essential, so make sure you’ve got the form nailed before you start adding bigger weights to the movement. To help out with that and your women’s lifting journey, we’ve written up a complete guide which covers all the essentials of a safe and effective hip thrust. Check out the guide below. 

Check out our complete guide to hip thrusts. 

The final rep – gymgirl hints and tips

When it comes to weight lifting for women, having these movements in your arsenal is an absolute must. It’s about more than just working those glamour muscles, they’re important to helping you create a strong all-round physique.

Whether you want to keep injury at bay, or perfect a peachy butt, there’s something here for you.

Add them together to create a full body workout, or select a few for an upper or lower body split to really home in on those areas and shape powerful muscle. Throw in some isolation accessories to really feel the burn.


gymgirlfit was created by health and fitness enthusiasts, with backgrounds in powerlifting and writing. We've written for a number of well-known fitness publishing companies.

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