A lot of women refrain from weight training fearing they’d bulk up so they invest too much time into cardio training hoping they will lose weight quickly and tone up their bodies. This is a common misconception – the opposite is true: proper strength training is what will give a female body the aesthetics they desire.
Those women who have realised this are a true inspiration to watch as they crush it in the gym lifting heavy weights, but still, a large number of ladies are confused about how to train and build lean muscle. With correct nutrition and strategic training, you can add definition and muscle tone.
The following tips will give you more insight into how you can achieve that goal.
Benefits of strength training and building lean muscle
Without intentional and persistent effort, it’s very challenging for most women to bulk up from lifting heavy weights. It takes time, effort and devotion, but it offers many benefits in return. As you build your muscle mass, you burn more calories which also speeds up your metabolism helping you burn fat.
Combined with proper nutrition, building muscle helps you shape your body – shoulder get broader and more defined, glutes get rounder, abs more pronounced and legs chiselled. Also, muscle is denser so it takes up less space than fat. So if your scales aren’t moving, don’t stress about it! You’ll notice that your body measurements have changed and your clothes fit better.
Another important benefit of strength training is that it helps increase bone density – heavy weights put extra stress on the bones as well as help them strengthen and grow.
How to train to gain muscle
Although muscle gain demands equal parts of dieting and exercise, the way you train also makes a big difference. Experts advise women to do strength training including full-body workouts three times a week with an 8 to 12 repetition range, which promotes maximal muscle growth.
Try out combinations of lifting dumbbells and kettlebells. Pick a weight that allows you to complete the 8 to 12 reps but it still feels challenging. Other exercises that help build muscle include weighted lunges and squats, kettlebell swings, plank rows, dumbbell deadlifts, and weighted single leg extensions.
It is crucial you ensure proper form throughout all your exercises. Lifting heavy isn’t the only goal. If you lift improperly, you may not be engaging the right muscles and there’s a high risk of injury.
For muscles to grow, you need to ensure your body gets proper nutrition. This primarily means you consume enough protein as this is the most important macronutrient for muscle building. The amino acids in protein help repair the micro-tears that happen as a result of heavy lifting. For women, the daily recommendation is 1.6-1.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. However, more isn’t always better. What counts is a high-quality protein and great sources are eggs, fish, poultry, red meat and hemp seeds.
You also need to strike the right balance of calorie intake. Women typically need between 1,600 and 2,400 calories a day so fitness professionals recommend adding between 250-500 extra calories per day. Too many calories can potentially add fat so to help, you can opt for the best estrogen supplement in Australia to regain your muscle strength and increase the collagen content. As for the macros, women should focus on carbs and aim for a ratio of 50% carbs, 30% protein and 20% fat.
Also, you shouldn’t forget micronutrients. These are the minerals and vitamins that help your body remove toxins, supply oxygen, feed the muscles and ensure everything functions properly.
Giving the muscles time to recover is a crucial part of muscle growth. During rest periods between workouts, muscles recover from micro tears, heal, and grow. If you don’t allow for this, muscle growth will be either very slow or non-existent. Also, your body will become much more susceptible to injury.
Lack of sleep can also slow down muscle growth. The amount of sleep varies from one person to another, but it’s a general recommendation to get between 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night.
Consistency is the key to success. Your body will take time to adjust, grow and change, typically with first results visible after 2 to 4 months. Speaking of frequency, research shows that it’s best to work out major muscle groups at least twice a week to maximize muscle growth. Also, there should be a day rest between work days. Aim to develop a regimen where you put enough stress on your muscles so they begin to change but you also allow sufficient rest time so they can build back up. Then, do your best to stick to it!
When you have the proper knowledge of exercise, diet, adequate rest, and consistency, you can become more confident in your efforts to build muscle. Knowledge will help you push away the fear of becoming “too big” when lifting heavy, which in reality, rarely happens to women as a side effect of muscle gain. By focusing on the right steps listed here, you can build lean muscles and a strong and healthy body.