Many women today are looking to add muscle and make their bodies more defined. However, it seems that much of the advice you can find online is tailored to men.
Don't worry, though, as we have got you covered. Below, we will take you through the five principles of building muscle for women.
Not only is this beneficial for women looking to add muscle, but it will also support your fitness goals if you want to lose body fat and become lean.
#1. Strength train regularly.
There is only one place to begin: adding regular strength training to your fitness regime. To make matters confusing, you can include strength training in many ways, so you need to select the approach that is most likely to give you the muscles you desire and also make you feel excited about your workouts.
When it comes to putting on visible lean muscle, the so-called hypertrophy training is imperative. It's the type of resistance training bodybuilders use for building muscle mass to increase their muscle tissue's diameter and actual size.
Although you may be scared to lift weights, exercising with a purpose is essential. If you want to see progress, adjusting the resistance as you get more adapted to the weights you've been using will be crucial. This is called progressive overload. More on this later.
#2. Add compound exercises to your workouts.
When it comes to muscle activation, you can see the best results in the shortest amount of time with compound movements. If you have never heard of a compound exercise before, this is simply an exercise that will train multiple muscle groups.
Because many different muscles are being targeted, you can expect quick results. You can perform one compound movement targeting multiple body parts rather than doing individual exercises for each muscle.
Here are a few full-body movements: squat, deadlift, bench press, and pull-up. When you work with a personal trainer or online coach, they will teach you how to perform them safely and effectively for optimum results.
#3. Increase the intensity of your exercises as time goes on.
Next, adopting a progressive overload approach makes much sense if you want to build muscle. This means you will increase the intensity of your strength exercises via frequency, reps, sets, volume or weight, or even time-under-tension.
This approach is beneficial because it puts your body in a continual state of adaptation. Ultimately, the set and rep range you found so difficult to begin with, will not feel so challenging anymore.
Progressive overload will add stress to your muscles, enabling them to break down, rebuild, and get stronger. Your nervous system will also have to fire appropriately to make all that happen. So, you might burn out if you do too much too soon. Finding the right pace for your body is essential, and a trainer can help you with that too.
We must note that progressive overload for most people isn't a straight line, and it is certainly not linear for women. Your menstrual cycle will affect how much you can push yourself, which is the part most articles on muscle building don't discuss.
Start with understanding how you can exercise and eat around your period for optimum performance, and be prepared that some days your maximum performance will be significantly lower than other days. For that reason, deciding on your progressive overload based on the so-called RPE scale (Rating of Perceived Exertion) might be a good idea.
#4. Maintain a calorie surplus and consume sufficient protein.
When the aim is to build muscle, it is imperative to get enough protein and balanced quantities of fats, carbohydrates, and macronutrients. Many experts recommend consuming one gram of protein per pound of body weight every day.
Also, now is not the time to be skimping on your calories. To promote lean muscle growth, we recommend you boost your calorie intake daily by approximately 10 percent. It's simple Math. If you eat less than your body uses, you lose weight. If you eat just enough for it to maintain the weight, there are no changes on the scale. If you eat more, you'll add weight to your frame.
Now that might sound scary, especially if you've been on a weight loss journey in the past. You might feel that eating more might make you gain back all that weight. This is where an expert coach can really help you figure out the best way to approach your nutrition.
One thing's for sure, so long you stick to a wholesome diet, eat lots of protein to promote muscle growth, and monitor your progress regularly, you can always tweak the plan if you feel it's heading in the wrong direction.
#5. Value the importance of rest periods.
Finally, we are sure your personal trainer has told you how important it is to have rest days. This is critical irrespective of your goal, and it becomes super important if you want to grow muscles.
If your body's not getting enough sleep, it will only have the capacity for general recovery processes, keeping you alive, organs working, etc. You need plenty of rest between workout days and an adequate amount and quality of sleep consistently every night for growth.
Rest is one of the most crucial ingredients for muscle growth, as it helps your body replenish tissues and muscles. They will get restored while you are sleeping.
Furthermore, as your brain is resting, the blood supply will be increased to your muscles, delivering added nutrients and oxygen so your muscles can grow and heal.
Because of this, we highly recommend that you do everything you can to get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per day and schedule breaks from the gym.
Final words on the main principles of building muscle for women.
So there you have it: an insight into some of the main principles to follow if you want to build muscle as a female.
With the right plan incorporating training and nutrition, you will soon see an increase in lean muscle. You can use our beginner training plan template to help you get started.
This will ensure a structure in your workouts and that you plan your exercises carefully with your ultimate goal of building muscle. If you have any questions about the plan, or you'd like to have a chat to learn how you can optimize your nutrition and workouts for your fitness goals, feel free to get in touch!