If you are on this site right now, chances are that you want to gain lean muscle. Building your body is not the easiest thing to do. It takes patience, time, and a lot of effort on your part. But just as with anything else, results will start to show if you keep pursuing. The only way proven to add muscle and curvature to your body is through the act of lifting heavier weights. Lay off the hour of treadmill running and countless repetitions and just into the world of weight lifting. In order to gain muscle mass, you need to focus on two things:
- heavy weights
- low reps
Here are typical rep ranges below according to their goals:
I personally find myself aiming for 6-8 reps of each workout move when I lift weights. Figure out what you goals are and then apply the rep range that best suits you! But what if I get big or bulky? Keeping the answer short, YOU WON’T. If anything, lifting weights will make your body look better than ever before and do a world of good on your muscles, bones, and posture. As females, our bodies simply do not have enough of the growth hormone testosterone to produce ample amounts of lean muscle mass. Our bodies simply cannot bulk up like theirs can. End of story.
Exercise Ever notice that there are no “women exercises” or “men exercises?” This is due to the fact that both genders should train the exact same way. Walk into the gym-where do you see a majority of the women? What are they doing? Chances are, they are probably on the treadmill and elliptical while the weight room is free of any female human being. WHY? Women are either intimidated or believe weights will cause them to bulk up. If they are in the weight room, they may have a small dumbbell in their hand doing countless repetitions over and over again. I can go ahead and tell you that endless cardio and tiny weights won’t get you closer to your goals of a toned, curvy physique. So, what should I be doing? Here are some moves that are great for transforming a woman’s body:
- Bicep Curls
- Overhead Press
- Lying Leg Raises
- Kettlebell Swings
The Spot Reduction Myth As women, we tend to develop our own trouble areas, particularly the lower belly, back of the arms, hips, thighs, and butt. We often desire to burn fat in these areas and to tone it all up. It is true that there is no way to target fat loss in a particular area. You can work that area by targeting the whole muscle group with a lifting, bodyweight, or HIIT exercise, but your overall best bet will be mixing cardio with a clean diet to reduce your overall body fat percentage. Aim to get your heart rate up and to sweat!
Don’t forget to warm up! Something that many people forget or neglect to do is properly warming up your muscles before beginning a workout. This can lead to sprains, pulled muscles, and other injuries. My favorite warm up usually involves a few yoga poses to help stretch various muscles at one time. My favorite stretch is the wide angle forward bend which stretches those hamstrings! If you are wanting something a bit more active for your warm up, good ole jumping jacks or a 5 minute jog is better than nothing!
Diet & Nutrition When taking proper diet into account, the first thing to consider is finding your BMR or basic caloric rate. This number will tell you the basic amount of calories that you need daily in order to sustain life. Here is a simple equation chart that I made below to help you figure yours:
For example, here is mine: 655+ 499.2+ 288- 117.5 = 1324.7 calories needed to survive daily. Next, you need to figure out how active are you and add the appropriate calories to your baseline total. Here is a chart I create to help you:
Using the Harris Benedict Formula, determine your total daily caloric needs. Keep in mind, this is just an average because let’s face it-one person’s thought of “sedentary” might be another person’s “lightly active” or vice versa.
- Sedentary (little or no exercise): BMR x 1.2
- Lightly active (easy exercise/sports 1-3 days/week): BMR x 1.375
- Moderately active (moderate exercise/sports 3-5 days/week): BMR x 1.55
- Very active (hard exercise/sports 6-7 days a week): BMR x 1.725
- Extremely active (very hard exercise/sports and physical job): BMR x 1.9
Here is mine:
1324.7 x 1.55 = ~2053 calories per day needed
More nutritional tips to remember:
- Drink at least half your body weight in oz. of water per day. I usually aim for 100oz. daily. If your body isn’t properly hydrated, it will not have the optimal cellular function it needs to build new, quality muscle.
- Eat enough protein. Aim for 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight. I weigh 120lbs so I aim for at least 120 grams of protein daily.
- Take fish oil. Fatty acids does wonders in helping your body to burn unwanted fat while creating new muscle. Personally, I have noticed a big difference with this. I also love chowing down on salmon for dinner!
- Eat healthy fats. Healthy fats are Omega 3s, coconut oil, avocado, etc. FAT DOES NOT MAKE YOU FAT. Eating an excess of carbs (or sugar) that turns into sugar that is stored and not burned as energy creates fat. Please do not believe all fats are bad for you.
Supplementation Supplements are amazing. They enhance your performance, help out with endurance, and can even increase your strength capacity. Someone once asked me, “Can I get by without taking supplements?” The truth, short and simple, is going to be yes and no.
Supplements are fabulous, but they are not required. They help to fill in the gaps or deficiences that you may need help with.
Supplements were created to do just that-supplement your diet and routine. Nutrition is such an important aspect of your workout routine because your body takes what you fuel it with and spits out magic. With the right fuel, great things can happen.Sure, you can get by with taking zero supplements-it just might take a bit longer to reach your goals.
First and foremost, every woman needs a good protein powder. The average personally typically needs around 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight. So if you are 120lbs, you will need at least 120 grams of protein per day. While this may seem easy (in your mind) to meet this through your daily dietary intake, sometimes it isn’t always so easy to eat this much protein. And if you are very physically active, you will need more grams of protein daily to repair your muscles. This is where protein powders rock.
So, what supplements do I personally recommend?
- A good multivitamin to cover your bases (brand does not matter too much here, but make sure it has enough of what you need)
- Vitamin D or extra Calcium (for those who lift, you want healthy bones to continue lifting, right?)
- Fish oil
- A preworkout powder to get you pumped and increase stength/endurance for your workout (I use Driven from MRM. It is all natural and does not make me feel jittery like other preworkout powders.)
- Amino Acids (I take BCAA Reload from MRM)
- A postworkout recovery powder (I love the Natural Whey Protein from MRM in chocolate)
But, what if I do not want to take a protein powder everyday? No problem, here are a few great foods that are super high in protein:
- Nut Butters