Do you find yourself envious of muscular women featured in fitness magazines, but are having trouble building muscle of your own no matter what you do? Luckily, most training road blocks are often caused by a few misconceptions and can be overcome with some tweaks in your diet and workout routine. Here are a few female muscle growth tips that can help get you on the right track.
Lift Heavy Weights
While some women believe that light weight and high repetition is the key to becoming toned, the truth is that real results are achieved by lifting heavy. The only way you are going to build muscle is if you challenge your body to adapt and become stronger. Lifting heavy breaks down muscle fibers and stimulates testosterone production, both of which are necessary to build muscle. Your muscles will also become more dense and defined which will lead to the toned look you’re after. The only time lighter weight and higher reps are necessary are for those who want to train for endurance.
Use a Personal Trainer
While having a personal trainer isn’t a necessity, it’s important to make sure you have correct form and technique in every exercise you perform. Doing so means you are less likely to injure yourself, and more likely to stimulate female muscle growth. For instance, you should focus both on the positive and negative parts of each movement and consciously activate the muscle being targeted. You can hire a personal trainer at least initially to help provide more insight into the various exercises and to assist in building a program for you to follow based on your goals and lifestyle.
Make a Note of Your Female Muscle Growth Progress
Your goal should be to perform 8-12 reps for 3 or 4 sets. By the last set you should have difficulty lifting the weight. Once you can make all the reps in the final set, you should increase the weight slightly next time round. Realistically you should be looking to increase the weight every week or two. Keep a notepad with you while training so you can record progress as it’s often tricky to remember your weight and settings for every exercise. This way you don’t get stuck in the habit of sticking to the same weight week in, week out.
While it’s important to be consistent with your weight training routine, make sure to schedule rest days and get enough sleep each night. Signs that you are overtraining include insomnia, depression, impaired immunity, muscle soreness, frequent injuries, lethargy and more. You should also avoid training the same muscle group more than once or twice a week. Your muscles need time to repair and grow otherwise you won’t make any progress at all. By focusing on one muscle group a week (i.e. chest on Mondays) you can hit more angles than you otherwise would, and still have shorter sessions. You should also consider taking a ‘recovery week’ every two or three months where you take a complete break from training.
If you find yourself having problems related to motivation or energy, there are a few things you can do. For starters, training with a friend or partner is a great way to keep you motivated while in the gym. He or she can also help you push out a few more reps on each exercise safely which you may not be able to do on your own. Secondly, never underestimate music. Keep your playlist fresh and choose music that gets you in a good mood. Studies have shown that music can reduce the perception of effort, and increase endurance by as much as 15%. Finally, keep in mind why you started in the first place. If you need more of a lift, check out these gym motivational quotes.
Take it Easy on the Cardio
Those looking to build muscle should consume a surplus of calories on a daily basis. As a result, too much cardio can be detrimental to your efforts. If you’re worried about putting on too much fat, remember that weight training also burns a lot of calories (throw in supersets for extra measure). Also, once you put on more muscle your body will use more calories too. You should maintain cardio for your heart health, but while you’re looking to build muscle you can cut back to maybe 30 minutes of cardio two or three times a week. Another option is to add 20 minutes of moderate cardio at the end of your weight training sessions (never before).
Change it Up Every Few Weeks
If you have been using the same routine for months or even years, it might be in your best interest to change things up a bit. Granted, if you keep increasing your weight then there isn’t any reason why you wouldn’t progress in this manner. Reasons why you should consider changing your routine are; if you have become bored with it, are not making any more progress, your schedule has changed, or you now have different personal fitness goals.
Don’t be Afraid of Supplements
Many woman shy away from supplements, instead simply relying solely on protein and their diet to help them reach their goals. While there isn’t anything wrong with this, the truth is that training hard puts enormous stress on the body. As a result, sometimes it could use a little help to get you where you want to be. The most popular supplements for female bodybuilders are a protein blend (mixture of whey and casein for fast and slow release), BCAA’s to prevent catabolism, creatine for an extra push during sessions, and fish oil and a multivitamin for nourishment.
Eat Like you Mean It
The final female muscle growth tip is to eat enough so that once you’ve torn your muscle fibers, you have the building blocks in place to repair them and grow stronger. Don’t be afraid of carbohydrates though try stick to the complex variety (if you consume simple carbs, then do so right before or right after a workout), eat plenty of healthy fats and try to consume around a gram or more of protein per pound of bodyweight. You can use our macro nutrient calculator as a nutritional starting point as to how much you should consume on a daily basis.
These days it’s not uncommon to see muscular girls in the gym out squatting guys and putting most gym rats to shame. If your goal is to join the ranks of girl bodybuilders or simply become more toned, the tips above should help get you there.