If you’re a female and trying to gain weight through workouts, then this article is for you. In this article, I’ve shared the 20 best exercises that will help females to gain weight and strengthen muscles. It also included a PDF of a gym workout plan to gain weight for females.
However these exercises are for all fitness levels, whether you’re a male or female, beginner or intermediate, you can do these gym workouts to gain weight and build muscles.
Gaining weight doesn’t mean gaining fat, both are different from one another. Exercises will help you develop muscles mass and that will help you increase weight.
But, if you think you can gain weight without managing your diet, then it’s next to impossible.
Diet plays a primary role in managing weight. Generally, to gain weight, you’ll need to be in a calorie surplus, meaning you’ll have to eat more calories than your body burns throughout the day. You can see a list of foods that can help you gain weight and include them in your daily diet.
You’re underweight because you haven’t fed your body properly. But when you work out you must take care of your nutrition.
For example, you’ll have to include protein, carbs, fats, and other nutrients in a way that can recover your muscles after a workout, increase mass and help you gain weight.
You can try supplements, such as Nutrigo lab for accelerating the weight gain process.
How Much Weight Should You Gain?
If you want to know how much weight you should gain, then first you have to check your body mass index (BMI). Once you get your BMI, you’ll get an idea of how much weight you can increase.
You can check your BMI online using a BMI calculator.
Generally, people with under 18.5 BMI are considered as underweight; 18.5 to 24.9 BMI is considered as normal weight, and 25–29.9 BMI comes in the overweight category. People with more than 30 BMI go under the obesity category.
Do Workouts Make Female Gain Weight?
Here workouts mean “weight lifting”. I’ll speak about lifting weight because in this post I’ve shared gym workouts for weight gain for females. And the gym workout usually means weight training or lifting weight.
If you’re underweight and want to increase weight, workouts may help you.
You will gain weight from lean muscle mass that you add by building your muscles with weightlifting – suggested by an article published on Health Clevel and Clinic.
However, lifting weight doesn’t make you bulky. Because women have a lower level of Testosterone Hormone which is responsible for muscle growth.
Okay so let’s find out which gym workout you can do and how to do those workouts to gain weight for females.
Exercises to Gain Weight Fast For Females
You’ll see the 12 exercises for the upper body; 6 workouts for the lower body and the 2 exercises for the core. Doing them all will help you build muscle, strengthen bone, and improve your body composition.
Here’s the quick list of gym workouts to gain weight for females
- Bench Press
- Incline Dumbbell Press
- Overhead Press
- Dumbbell Lateral Raise
- Tricep Dips
- Rope Pushdown
- Bent over row
- Renegade Row
- Dumbbell Rowing
- Cable Rowing
- Front Lat Pulldown
- Cable Bicep Curl
- Leg Press
- Barbell Hip Thrust
- Hamstring Curl
- Forearm Plank
- Side Plank
Upper Body Workouts to Gain Weight and Muscle for Females
I haven’t included pushups in this list but you should do; Because push-ups are also helpful in muscles gain and the best thing is that you can do pushups anywhere anytime. So, apart from pushups, here we take a look at the 7 exercises that help you gain upper body muscles.
1. Bench Press
The Bench Press is a must-do exercise for muscle gain whether you’re a beginner, intermediate or advanced.
This helps you build shoulder, triceps, and especially chest muscles.
It strengthens muscles, increases pushing strength, and promotes bone health.
There are two ways you can do the barbell bench press; first, with the help of the smith machine and the second is the free weight.
If you’re a beginner, you should do it on a smith machine because it will help you control your movement and give more perfection to your workout.
While the free weight bench press allows you to target your pecs more precisely.
A bench press workout is great for weight gain for underweight females and males.
How to Smith Machine Bench press
- Place a flat bench under the smith machine, set the bar in the rack according to your comfort, and put the desired weight.
- Lay down on the bench on your back, grab the bar with an underhand grip with your elbows bend and palms are facing upward.
- Keep your feet flat on the ground. That’s the starting position.
- Keep your abdoinal muscles tight, inhale and slowly press the bar upward until your arms are fully straight and then exhale.
- Pause for a moment at the top and then return to the starting position. That’s one rep!
- Do the three sets of 10-12 reps each with a couple of minutes rest between the sets.
2. Incline Dumbbell Press
The Incline Dumbbell Bench Press targets the shoulder, arms, and especially the upper part of the chest.
With the dumbbells, you can specifically focus on the muscles you want; because the dumbbells allow a full range of motion.
There are three variations of the dumbbell bench press; flat, incline, and decline. If you do the flat bench press, then doing an incline dumbbell press helps you build a defined breast.
So you can incorporate this exercise into a female gym workout plan.
How to Incline Dumbbell Bench Press
Step 1: Lie down on an incline bench (30-degree), holding a pair of dumbbells with your hands wider than shoulder-width. Hold the dumbbells at your sides at chest level. Keep your feet flat on the ground.
Step 2: Brace your core, inhale and start pressing the weight upward until your arms being fully extended. Hold a second at the top and return your arms to the starting position, then exhale. That’s one rep.
Recommended Sets and Reps: 10*3
3. The Overhead Press
The overhead shoulder is one of the best exercises for the upper body muscles gain.
The overhead press increases the strength and the size of the shoulder muscles.
Your core and tricep also engage during the overhead press.
It has different variations as well, such as standing overhead press, seated overhead press; smith machine overhead press; front overhead press, and back overhead press.
However, the front overhead press is considered the most effective one.
How To Overhead Shoulder Press (Sitting)
Step 1: Sit on a bench with back support; holding a barbell with your hands wider than shoulder-width at your shoulder height.
Keep your elbows bend at your sides and hold the barbell close to your shoulder.
Step 2: Keep your back straight and chest up and start raising the barbell over your head until your arms being fully straight. Hold for a moment at the top and lower the weight back to the initial position. That’s one rep! Recommended Sets and Reps: 10*3
4. Dumbbell Lateral Raise
The lateral dumbbell raises work on your lateral delts and helps you strengthen and build shoulder muscles.
How to do dumbbell lateral raise
- Holding one dumbbell in each hand stand upright in the shoulder-width stance.
- Keep your arms straight at your sides with your palms are facing your body. That’s the start.
- Now, raise the dumbbells out to the sides until arms are parallel to the floor.
- Pause for a second then return lower the dumbbell to the start. That’s one rep!
- Do 3 sets of 10 reps each with 2-3 minutes rest between the sets.
- You can also do this movement while sitting on a bench.
- Perform each rep slowly and in controlled fashion without keeping your body lose during the entire movement.
5. Tricep Dips
The triceps dip is one of the best bodyweight workouts you can do to strengthen your arms, especially the rear part.
To do triceps dip, you only need a bench, chair, or box.
How to do Tricep dip:
- Sit on the edge of a flat bench with your arms are straight beside your hips and feet flat on the ground.
- Firmly grip the edge of the bench with your palms are facing down.
- Spread your legs in front of you, heels touching the ground, and toes pointing toward the ceiling. That’s the start.
- Bend your elbows and lower your body as deep as you can. And then press back until your arms are fully straight. That’s one rep.
- Make sure your elbows tucked at your sides so that they don’t flare outward.
- Focus on squeezing your triceps during the entire movement.
- Do 3 sets of 10-12 reps each with 2-3 minutes rest between the sets.
6. Rope Pushdown
The rope pushdown can help you develop and strengthen your triceps.
You can also do pushdown exercises with a straight bar, EZ bar, or triangle bar.
How to do rope pushdown
- Set the rope to the higher section of the cable machine.
- Set the desired weight according to your strength.
- Grab the rope firmly and stand upright in the shoulder-width stance.
- Slightly lean your torso forward, and hold the rope at your chest level. That’s the start.
- Now, squeezing your triceps muscle, push the rope down until your arms are fully straight.
- Hold for a moment and then return your arms to the start. That’s one rep.
- You can do 3 sets of 10 to 12 reps each with 2-3 minutes rest.
7. Bent over row
The bent-over row is a must-do exercise for the upper body muscles gain. It works on the shoulders, arms, hips, and especially the back.
The bent-over row has different forms and variations such as barbell bent-over row, dumbbell bent-over row; wide grip and short grip barbell bent-over row, etc.
It can be one of the important gym exercises to gain weight for females.
How to do Barbell bent-over row
Step 1: Stand with your feet hip-width apart, holding a barbell with your hands a bit wider than shoulder-width with an underhand grip. Slightly bent your knees and let the bar hangs below your chest by extending your arms. That’s the starting position.
Step 2: Keep your back straight, chest up and brace your core; start raising the bar upward until it touches your abdomen. Hold for a second and then lower the bar to the starting position. That’s one rep! Recommended Sets and Reps: 10*3
8. Renegade Row
The Renegade Row is a compound exercise that works on the chest, triceps, back, and shoulders simultaneously.
It helps you increase strength, gain, balance, and improve overall body posture.
Incorporating renegade row exercise may help females gain weight and build muscle.
How to do Renegade Row
Step 1: Be in the push-up position with the dumbbells in your hands beneath your shoulders. Keep shoulder-width apart distance between your feet. To start the exercise. do a full push-up. Don’t rotate your hips during the movement.
Step 2: After the push-up, row one dumbbell at your sides towards your hip while pushing the other dumbbell. Slowly lower the dumbbell back to the starting position. Repeat on the opposite side. That’s one rep. Recommended Sets and Reps: 10*3. Perform slowly with lighter weight.
Also Read: Weighted Push Ups: Variations, How-To & Benefits
9. Dumbbell Rowing
Dumbbell rowing is a free weight exercise that targets your shoulders, arms, and especially back.
This will help you build a strong back and better posture.
To perform the dumbbell rowing you need a bench and dumbells. You can do both incline and flat dumbbell rowing exercises because both are good for muscle and weight gain in females.
How to One-arm Dumbbell rowing (flat)
Step 1: Grab a dumbbell in any of your hands; place your other side’s knee and hand on a flat bench. Keep your other feet on the ground.
Hang your arm extended below your shoulder. That’s your starting position.
Step 2: Start rowing the dumbbell out to the side until being reached at abdomen level. Hold for a second, then slowly lower the dumbbells to the starting position. That’s one rep! Recommended Sets and Reps: 10*3.
10. Cable Rowing
The cable rowing especially works on the back. It helps you build a defined back and also improves spinal cord bone density.
How to Cable Rowing
Step 1: Set your desired weight on the weight stack and attach the handle to the seated row machine. Position yourself on a flat bench and grasp the handle with a neutral grip your arms fully extended, palms facing each other.
Step 2: Keep your back straight, your feet flat on the ground, and your knees under the pad. Start rowing toward your stomach by pulling your shoulder blades back. Hold for a second and then slowly let the weight return until your arms extended. That’s one rep! Recommended Sets and Reps: 10*3
11. Front Lat Pulldown
The pulldown is a back workout that works primarily on the latissimus dorsi.
Whether you’re a beginner or intermediate, you can include pulldown exercise to build your back muscle.
Strengthening your back also protects you from low back injuries, and improves your posture.
The pull-down has several variations from the short grip and wide grip to overhand and underhand grip to front and rear pulldown. However, the front medium grip lat pulldown is considered the effective than others.
How to do front lat pulldown
- Sit on a bench attach to the lat pull-down machine, place your feet flat on the floor and adjust your knees under the pad.
- Grab the bar firmly with an overhand grip, hands wider than shoulder-width apart and palms facing downward.
- Keep your chest up, abdominal muscles tight and arms fully straight. That’s the start.
- Now, pull the bar down until it comes a few inches off the floor.
- Pause for a couple of second, squeeze your back and then return the bar slowly to the starting position by extending your arms completely. That’s one rep!
- Do 3 sets of 10 to 12 reps each with 2-3 minutes gap between each set.
The pulldown exercises help you gain weight in both males or females.
12. Cable Bicep Curl
The cable biceps curl works on bicep muscles and helps you build strong and toned arms.
- Set the rack to the lower section of the cable machine and attach the bar (straight or EZ).
- Set your desired weight according to your strength.
- Grab the bar firmly with an underhand grip, hands hip width apart.
- Stand straight 10 to 12 inches away from the machine.
- Slightly lean your torso backward, keep your arms straight and elbows tucked at your sides. That’s the start.
- Curl your arms toward your shoulder until you feel the contraction in your bicep muscles.
- Pause for a moment and then extend your arms to return to the start. That’s one rep.
- You can do 3 sets of 10 to 12 reps each with 2-3 minutes rest.
lower body weight gain Exercises For Females
I’ve shared the 6 best workouts that will help females build strong and amusing lower bodies. The exercises are squat, deadlift, leg press, lunges, hip thrust, and hamstring curl.
Related: An Ultimate Guide To The Dumbbell Leg Exercises
These workouts work on the glutes, hamstring, quadriceps, hips, lower back, and calves.
The squat is an important lower-body muscles growth workout. It doesn’t only tone your leg muscles but also helps you get stronger, attractive, and bigger legs.
The squats have different forms such as; bodyweight squats, dumbbell squats, barbell squats, smith machine squats, sumo squats, etc.
How to do a Bodyweight Squat
- Stand with your feet about hip-width apart, keeping your hands behind your head or at chest level.
- Brace your core, push your hips back when bending your knees.
- Make sure chest and shoulders stay upright and back stays straight.
- Get low as down as possible; Hold for a second at the down and then slowly stand straight to the starting position by extending your knees. That’s one rep!
- Recommended Sets and Reps: 10*3. Try focusing on the thigh while getting low.
The deadlifts are known as the king of the workout because of their benefits. A conventional deadlift alone targets many muscles at once such as; hamstring, quadriceps, back, arms shoulder, and glutes.
Deadlifts have a myriad of health benefits such as they increase muscle growth; strengthen muscles and joints; increase lifting capacity; enhance endurance, improve heart health and build an overall stronger physique.
The deadlifts are one of those exercises which help females to gain weight gain faster.
How to do Conventional Deadlift
Step 1: Stand with your feet hip-width apart, bend your knees and hips just enough to reach and grab onto the bar. Grip the bar to the shoulder width. Keep your arms straight. Your palms should face your body. Your hand must be equally far from the ends of the barbell.
Step 2: Raise your hips and shoulders at the same range while maintaining a straight back. Keep your core tight during the whole lift. Take a long breath and lift the bar with full strength. Hold for a second and lower the weight back to the return starting position. That’s one rep! Recommended Sets and Reps: 10*3.
You can also do several types of deadlifts with dumbbells.
3. Leg Press
The machine leg press is one of the best exercises for lower body muscles growth. It targets the quadriceps and other muscles of the legs.
The leg press strengthens muscles and joints and helps in muscle growth.
There are two variations of the machine leg press; one is the horizontal leg press machine and the other one is the recline seated 45-degree angle leg press; that can be done by pressing the legs upward in a diagonal direction.
Both are useful for the growth of the quadriceps, hamstrings, and gluteus. It is one of the safest and effective exercises to gain weight for all including females.
How to perform Recline seated 45-degree legs press upward in a diagonal direction
- Sit down on a recline leg press machine with back support.
- Place your feet flat on the footplate about hip-width apart.
- Make sure your legs form an angle of about 90 degrees at the knees and your knees must be in line with your foot.
- Grab the supporting handle (built at the sides of the machine) for the sturdy position. That’s your starting position.
- Brace your core and push the weight away by using your leg’s power; while keeping your heels remain flat on the footplate.
- Hold up there for a second and then slowly return to the beginning. That’s one rep!
- Recommended Sets and Reps: 10*3.
- Make sure your back remains on the pad and you only using legs power to perform this workout.
The Lunges help you strengthen and build a strong lower body. Studies suggested doing lunges can be useful for improving hamstring strength and running speed.
Whether you’re a beginner or intermediate, you can incorporate lunges in your weight gain workout routine.
How to do Dumbbell walking lunges
Step 1: Stand straight with your feet about shoulder-width; holding a pair of dumbbells at your sides with arms fully extended. Brace your core and take a big step forward with your right leg by bending both knees at 90 degrees and your front thigh is parallel to the floor.
Step 2: Step forward with your other leg to bring both feet together. Hold the dumbbells close to your body. Repeat the movement with your opposite leg by moving forward. Recommended Sets and Reps: 10*3. Keep your chest up, back straight and your core and glutes engaged during the movement.
5. Barbell Hip Thrust on Smith Machine
- Set the bar to an appropriate height and weight according to your strength.
- Attach a thick squat sponge to the centre of the bar and place a bench under it.
- Place your upper back on the bench with your feet flat on the floor in front of you, shoulder-width apart, knees bent to 90 degree so your chest and knees are in line.
- Put a balance pad on your hip for extra safety.
- Grab the bar with an overhand grip, hands slightly wider than shoulder width apart. And the put the bar on your hips. That’s the start.
- Keeping your core tight, thrust the bar upward as high and fast as you can. Once you reach your top, hold for a couple of seconds before lowering your hips to the start.
- Focus on squeezing your glutes during the entire movement.
- Do as many reps and sets as you can.
6. Hamstring Curl
- Sit on the seated leg curl machine with your back rested on back pad.
- Adjust the machine so the back of your lower leg (below your calves) rested on padded lever and your thigh stays under the lap pad.
- Grab the handles firmly and pull the level machine so your hamstrings engaged.
- Once you feel your hamstring contracted fully, return to the start.
- Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
When you don’t have gym access, you can also do hamstring curl with a dumbbell.
Core Strengthing Exerises
Core strength is of utmost importance for the upper body muscles development. A strong core helps you lift more weight and improve your overall performance.
For strengthening the core, there are many exercises such as sit-ups, planks, Russian twists, mountain climbers, etc.
Related: The 15-Minute HIIT Core Workout And Exercises
Here are the two important core exercises you can do incorporate into your routine.
1. Forearm Plank
Planks are for all, whether you’re underweight or overweight; male or female; beginner or experienced, planks are for all.
The reason behind is that they are core strengthening exercise and works on several muscles at once such abs, lower back, arms, and hips.
A forearm plank helps you build strong abdominal muscles. It has also several forms but for you, I would recommend forearm plank once or twice a week.
How to perform a forearm plank
Step 1: Get into a pushup position with your forearms flat on the ground beneath your shoulders.
Step 2: Keep your body straight, brace your core and be in the same position for as long as you can.
2. Side Plank
The side plank works more on the side stomach-like obliques and strengthens the oblique.
You can do side plank along with other exercises at least once or twice a weak.
The side plank also helps you tone muscles and build attractive obliques.
How to perform Side Plank
Step 1: Hold your body at your side in a straight position supported by only one arm. Keep your both legs on the side just above the ground
Step 2: Brace your core and keep your body tight and be in the same position for 15 seconds for each side.
Workout Plan to Gain Weight for Females
I’ve created a sample of a 6-day gym workout plan that may help females gain weight
This isn’t a weekly routine, you’ll need to complete the total 6-day routine and then repeat. For example, if you take a rest after every 2 days then on the fourth day you’ll do the workouts of day 3. The rest day depends on you.
Routine Type: Push/Pull/Legs, Duration: 60 Minutes, Rest Between Each Set: 2-3 Minutes
Day 1 (Push Exercises)
|Exercise||Reps & Sets|
|Bench Press||12, 10, 8 reps|
|Incline Dumbbell Press||12, 10, 8 reps|
|Overhead Press||10 reps x 3 sets|
|Lateral Raise||8 reps x 3 sets|
|Pushup||10 reps x 2 sets|
|Rope Pushdown||10 reps x 3 sets|
|Tricep Dips||10 reps x 3 sets|
Day 2 (Pull Workout)
|Exercise||Reps & Sets|
|Lat Pulldown||12, 10, 8 reps|
|Barbell Bent Over Row||12, 10, 8 reps|
|Single-arm DB Rowing||10 reps x 3 sets|
|Seated Cable Rowing||10 reps x 3 sets|
|Cable Bicep Curl||12, 10, 8 reps|
|Preacher Curl||12, 10, 8 reps|
|Wrist Curl||10 reps x 3 sets|
Day 3 – Quadriceps, Calves and Core
|Exercise||Reps & Sets|
|Squat||15, 12, 10 Reps|
|Leg Press||15, 12, 10 Reps|
|Leg Extension||15, 12, 10 Reps|
|Calves Raise||15, 12, 10 Reps|
|Forearm Plank||30-60 Seconds|
|Side Plank||30 Seconds |
Day 4 – Push Workout
|Workout||Sets and Reps|
|Incline Machine Chest Press||12, 10, 8 reps|
|Dumbbell Pullover||10, 8, 6 reps|
|Dumbbell Front Raise||10, 8, 6 reps|
|Upright Row||10, 8, 6 reps|
|Shrug||10, 8, 6 reps|
|Tricep Dip||12, 10, 8 reps|
|Triangle Pushup||10 Reps x 2 Sets|
Day 5 – Pull Exercise
|Exercise||Reps and Sets|
|Lat Pulldown||12, 10, 8 reps|
|Seated Cable Rowing||12, 10, 8 reps|
|Face Pull||12, 10, 8 reps|
|DB Concentration Curl||12, 10, 8 reps|
|Dumbbell Incline Curl||12, 10, 8 reps|
|Palms Down Wrist Curl||12, 10, 8 reps|
Day 6 – Hamstrings, Glutes and Core
|Exercise||Sets and Reps|
|Barbell Lunges||12, 10, 8 reps|
|Dumbbell Romain Deadlift||AMRAP|
|Hamstring Curl||12, 10, 8 reps|
|Bulgarian Split Squat||12, 10, 8 reps|
|Barbell Hip Thrust||12, 10, 8 reps|
|Side Hip Raise||12, 10, 8 reps|
|Forearm Plank||30-60 Seconds|
|Side Plank||30 Seconds|
Weight Gain Exercises Routine for Females PDF
Related: 6 Day Gym Workout Schedule With PDF
Do Gym workouts make me bulky?
Some females think that workouts make them bulky; normally bulky means fatty. Usually, women have lower levels of testosterone (the hormone which is responsible for muscle growth) than men and that’s the reason, it’s next to impossible that lifting weights make female bulky- an article published by WebMD suggested.
Workouts either help you lose weight or build muscles but not in any way they increase your body fats and make you bulky.
In case, if you face any problem during or after the workout then consult your trainer because he’ll better assess your fitness and advise you on exercises accordingly. And if any problems with the diet you need to consult with your physician or dietician.
Some image credit: thoroughlyreviewed.com