Nowadays women don’t just want to be skinny, they want to be toned too. But what exactly does this mean?
Well, when women talk about being toned they mean that they do not want to look like a scrawny catwalk model, but rather an athlete.
To achieve this athletic build you will need to do two things. Firstly you will need to build muscle in the right places, such as your legs, abs and butt, plus you will need to cut your body fat percentage lower than 20%.
The good news is that everyone can build muscle and lose fat, regardless of your current condition, genetics or your history of exercise. You also won't have to starve yourself or live in the gym either.
So without further ado, let's look closely at some muscle building rules for women.
#1: Eat The Correct Number Of Calories
If you want to build muscle then you need to make sure you are getting enough calories.
The biggest mistake women make when trying to build muscle, or get fit, is that they starve themselves, often skipping meals or opting for low-calorie salads in an attempt to lose fat.
Constantly being in a calorie deficit will leave your body struggling to gain muscle mass.
Being in a calorie deficit will reduce anabolism and increase the production of hormones that promote catabolism. Catabolism is when your body starts to break down muscle for energy.
You really should be aiming to eat slightly more calories than you burn to ensure you are able to build muscle effectively.
These extra calories will help:
- Raise anabolic hormone production
- Enhance your bodies muscle building ability
- Improve your performance at the gym
- Help you to recover effectively from your workouts
You need to be aware that when you build muscle you will likely gain fat too. This is perfectly natural, but it is possible to control the amount of fat you gain if you are careful.
#2: Eat The Right Amount Of Macros
The number of calories you consume is important, but the types of calories you consume are equally as important.
To improve your body composition you need to make sure you are consuming the right amounts of macros (protein, carbohydrates and fats).
I would recommend consuming at least 1 gram of protein for every pound of body weight per day.
Your diet should also contain 0.3 grams of fat per pound of body weight per day. The remaining calories should come from carbohydrates.
Many women (and men) will falsely believe that they should cut back on carbs when trying to get fit, as they believe it causes fat gain.
Research has found that moderate to high carbs diets help with muscle gain 1.
Of course, refined carbs are best avoided. These are found in junk foods and processed foods and are not the best sources of nutrients.
Instead opt for unprocessed carbohydrates, such as fruit, vegetables and whole grains as these are all good sources of various micronutrients and fibre. These are all essential for good health.
#3: Focus On Lifting Weights
Yes, cardio has its place in your gym routine but if you want to build muscle then you need to start lifting weights.
Compound exercises such as the bench press, deadlift and overhead press are the best options as they work multiple muscle groups.
When training you will need to give your all each rep and to not worry about getting too bulky or too masculine. You do not produce enough testosterone naturally to build too much muscle so don’t worry.
Of course, you will likely make some pretty hideous faces while lifting those weights, and you will probably get sweaty. But who cares? You are at the gym to workout, not to meet the love of your life (although this would be nice).
There are workout routines you can follow online, or you can create your own. All I would say is that when looking at routines there are certain things most women should look for:
- The routine should focus on heavy lifting
- You should focus on compound movements
- The lower body should be a priority
- Cardio should be kept to a minimum
Of course, this approach may not be suitable for you. Remember we are all unique so find a routine that suits your particular needs.
#4: Set Goals And A Plan Of Attack
You have already made a goal in your mind to build muscle, but how are you going to achieve this goal without making a plan?
Without either you will soon lose focus and will get sidetracked.
By creating a plan of attack you will know what you have to do each day to achieve your goal. It will give you the structure you need for success and will help you develop good eating and training habits that will benefit you in the long run.
I would highly recommend having smaller, more achievable goals in mind, rather than just the one big goal.
The reason for this is that achieving these smaller goals will give you a confidence boost and help you push towards the next goal. It will also make your big goal less daunting if you are building towards it slowly.
#5: Train To Failure
Are you giving your all at the gym, or are you being half-hearted?
If you are not giving 100% then you won't see the results you would hope to see.
When you workout, make sure to pick a weight that you can lift for the recommended number of reps (usually 8-10) but is too heavy to lift more than this number of reps. Doing this will ensure you are giving your all.
I would suggest that you give yourself adequate rest between workouts. At least 24 hours before you work the same muscle group, and to give yourself at least one day off a week where you won't lift any weights at all.
#6: Use Correct Form
While the last tip said to push yourself, this should never be to the point where you lose your form.
Poor form can potentially cause injury, which will surely slow your muscle-building progress.
When performing each exercise I would suggest lifting using slow and controlled movements. Doing so will help you to feel the movement using the mind-muscle connection.
This will ensure you are working the right muscle fibres and get the most out of each exercise.
#7: Get Plenty Of Sleep
Without adequate sleep, you won't be giving your body the chance to recover from those intense workouts.
When you are sleeping your body is actively repairing itself by releasing hormones such as testosterone and HGH.
I would recommend aiming to get 8-9 hours of good quality sleep every night. To improve the quality of your sleep you should avoid staying up late bingeing on your favourite Netflix show, and turn off all electronic devices.
#8: Supplement If Needed
If you are eating a well-rounded diet then you may not need any supplements.
However, there are some supplements that may make building muscle that little bit easier.
For example, whey protein powder is an easier way of ensuring you are getting enough protein into your body.
Think of it like this. What would be easier, to ensure you fill up with protein at each mealtime, or to top up your intake with an occasional protein shake?
Fish oil may be a good option now that you are lifting. This is because fish oil can reduce stiffness, tenderness and discomfort post-workout. Omega-3 fatty acids can also increase blood flow, which can help reduce joint pain and swelling 3 4 5.
You may want to think about supplementing with BCAAs too. They have been found to:
- Increase muscle growth 6 7
- Decrease muscle soreness 8 9 10
- Reduce exercise fatigue 11 12
- Prevents muscle wastage 13 14 15
#9: Have Belief In Yourself
There are haters everywhere who will try their best to put you off achieving your fitness goals.
You would hope that those closest to you, such as your family, friends and co-workers would be the most supportive of your choices. But this is often not the case.
Often those closest to you are the least supportive. This is because people do not like change, so seeing you better yourself will make them insecure about how they look.
Once you start your plan you must try and keep the faith, and the belief that what you are doing is right for you. Try to ignore the negativity and focus on yourself and what you are trying to achieve.
Having read the above article you should now have the tools required to build muscle mass.
You may not have as much testosterone as a man, but you are probably not looking to build as much muscle as they are.
If you follow the muscle building rules given then there really isn’t any reason why you can't be successful with your efforts. Good luck and leave a comment below when you succeed.
Hello there!! My name is Jonathan, and I am a fitness blogger and bodybuilding enthusiast. I am also the founder of GainMuscleNotFat.com.
I want to provide you with the best advice to help you gain muscle mass and strength, without getting fat!
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