There are many misconceptions associated with women and weight training. Some women shy away from lifting weights because they are afraid they will look clumsy and become too masculine. Other women do not see the point because they think their bodies are not able to build up a considerable amount of muscle in the first place. The truth lies somewhere in the middle. It is true that women are not equipped with enough natural testosterone to build big, bulging muscles – but with proper exercise and diet, they can certainly build lean muscular bodies.
1. Exercising with intensity.
To stimulate the muscles to grow, you have to work them hard enough to break down existing muscle fibers. A method of increasing the size and strength of a muscle is called hypertrophy, which is best achieved by performing 5/3 sets of eight to twelve repetitions per exercise. If you can complete more than 12 reps in a set, you probably have not been to maximize muscle growth because the resistance you use is not heavy enough. Women tend to reach for the small weights at the gym, but to build muscle, you need to opt for the larger ones. Push yourself. Never stop a set of eight reps when you could have completed 10.
2. Provide sufficient time to recover.
The first part of hypertrophy is muscle breakdown; the other is repaired. Each muscle group needs adequate rest to make muscle repair resulting in increased size and strength. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends waiting at least 48 hours between training sessions for the same muscle group, but depending on the intensity of the sessions and your current fitness level, you may require more. Organize your workout routine around a split schedule to ensure that each muscle group gets ample recovery time.
3. Eat a nutritious, high-protein diet.
To build lean muscle, you need to provide your body with the building blocks it needs. Protein synthesis requires amino acids, which is available in the form of the protein. Aiming to take in 1 to 1.5 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight each day. It may take some experimentation to find the best balance of macronutrients for your unique physiology, but you can start with a balance of 40 percent carbohydrates, 30 percent protein and 30 percent fat. Ensure that food sources are fresh, whole foods such as lean proteins, fruits and vegetables. Avoid processed foods with added sugar, sodium and fat.
4. Monitor developments.
It is important to track your results so you can find out what is – and is not – working. Instead of focusing on body weight, monitor your body fat and circumference. Your goal is to increase muscle mass while reducing body fat, and the scope is not the best measure of it. Progress photos taken once a month is a great way to hold yourself accountable and reflect on your results.
5. Do not compare yourself with others.
Remember that your genetics and build is unique to you, so focus on routine and progress. Do not be afraid to push yourself. Muscle soreness is a normal part of strength training, but you want to restore. If you are new to working out, start slowly and work your way up. Do not give up if you do not see immediate results. Building and toning muscles takes time, but the results are well worth the effort. Use a journal to track your diet and exercise every day to help identify changes you need to do down the road.
6. Talk to your doctor before starting any new exercise or diet program.
Always perform resistance exercises with a spotter and proper form. If you are unsure of proper form for an exercise, ask a fitness professional for help. Ensure that all post-workout pain you feel is associated with routine soreness, not harm. If you have pain that hangs more than three days, you should consult a doctor to rule out damage.