There are numerous ways for women to build muscle mass, but many women make the mistake of thinking that lifting weights will make them look like huge bodybuilders. Unless that’s the look they want, it can be unappealing, and so they’ll avoid doing it at all.
One of the primary ways female-bodied people can build muscle is by lifting weights, though, just like everyone else. In this guide, we’ll go over some of the best practices for muscle gain, and teach you how to build muscle for women looking to bulk up.
Mindset is one of the most important factors in any exercise routine. If you’re not committed to your routine, you’re never going to get through it. Workout and mindset can go hand in hand. If you have a poor mindset going into an exercise routine, you’re not going to see any good results. If you need guidance on keeping with your plans, check out this course on how to set goals for yourself and stick with them.
For even more help, check out this course for a motivation booster!
Research suggests that female-bodied people build muscle mass slower than male-bodied ones. Because of this, committing yourself to building muscle takes a ton of patience. You will most likely not see progress right away, and if you’re somebody who isn’t extremely fit to begin with, it’ll take even longer for you to build up the endurance to take on a vigorous enough workout routine to start building muscle at a substantial rate.
You need to be patient, and not let a seeming lack of progress get you down. It’s better to commit to something for the long term and see a small amount of improvement, rather than commit to something very briefly and give up before you see any at all.
This leads into the second most important trait, which is…
Patience is necessary to ensure you that a lack of immediate progress doesn’t mean progress won’t happen eventually. Persistence is needed to keep you on track, focused on and committed to your routine. There’s a reason you’ve decided to devote yourself to this endeavor, and if it means anything to you, it’s important you don’t forget it.
Check out some motivational courses, like this one on learning how to finish what you’ve started, or this guide on various motivational strategies to keep you going. Give yourself constant reminders on why your exercise routine matters to you, and remember: don’t give up!
Of course, you can’t build muscle without exercise. Resistance training, also called strength training or just plain weightlifting (though not all resistance training involves weights) is the practice of using opposing force to strengthen muscles.
- Resistance Training
Resistance training is the go-to method of exercise for people looking to build lean muscle and lose weight by reducing fat.
Good resistance training workout moves include bell swings, squats, pull-ups, and of course, lifting weights. In the beginning, it’s best to do exercise that work your core in addition to resistance training, as this not only builds endurance, but it more evenly builds up muscle on your entire body so that you’re not bulking up in some places, but not others.
- Balanced Workout
As stated before, lifting weights isn’t going to give you the top-heavy bodybuilder body type overnight, but overdoing something like “leg day” will definitely strengthen some muscles over others. Balance if what you want to achieve. Build up muscle, then work on sculpting certain muscle sets with more specialized routines.
Check out this guide on resistance training for women for more information. There’s also this guide to strength training, and this course on how to do deadlifts the right way, which is extremely important lest you injure yourself.
- Maintain a Routine
The ideal muscle-building exercise routine will consist of a workout about three to five days a week. It doesn’t matter if you’re hitting the gym or using equipment you have at home, you should only be working out every other day, letting your muscles rest for at least 48 hours between each routine. Check out this guide on the best, gym-free home workout.
Remember that your muscles aren’t strengthening during a workout, they strengthen in the time following a workout when they’re repairing themselves, and in order to do that they need rest, and a healthy diet to sustain them.
It’s also best to lift heavy weights, rather than small ones. People who want to build endurance training will do prolonged sets of lighter weights, but if strength and muscle is what you want to build, do smaller sets of heavy weights instead.
Basically, you shouldn’t be working out too much, but when you do workout, do it hard.
Diet is almost as important as exercise when it comes to maintaining muscle mass. Food gives your body the energy needed to get the most out of your work out, and the energy you need to recover from one. The key to a muscle-building diet are high protein and vegetable intake, and of course, counting your calories.
Most people prepare meals with a base of carbs – bread, potatoes, rice. If you’re looking to gain muscle over an extended period of time, commit to a protein high diet where protein is the primary staple, with vegetables on the side and low helpings of carbs.
Fish is an excellent source of protein, relatively low in fat, with a lot of vitamins and minerals as well. Chicken and red meat like beef is good, as are eggs, certain types of dairy, and soy. Tofu is a good, healthy, and vegetarian source of protein if meat or dairy is out of the question.
Check out this course on how to maintain a vegetarian diet the right way for ideas.
Vegetables contain the micronutrients the body needs to sustain itself, and are a healthier alternative to carbs because of their low calorie count. Because they’re much richer in essential vitamins and minerals, you also gain more nutrients from vegetables by consuming less – they are not empty calories, basically.
A diet high in protein and vegetables is the healthiest you can maintain if you want to give your body what it needs to build muscle. While it can be harder and more time consuming, cooking for yourself is a much better alternative to buying food out. You can learn the fundamentals of healthy cooking in this course for some guidance.
Carbohydrates are best consumed after a vigorous workout, rather than before. Excess carbs build fat quicker than other foods, but if they’re consumed post-workout then they’ll be used as energy instead of stored as fat.
One of the best things you can do for your diet and health is count your calories. Everyone’s body is different, and our caloric intake varies on a number of different factors. You can do a quick Google search for a caloric intake calculator and determine how much you need to be consuming every day in order to lose, maintain, or gain a certain amount of weight.
How to Build Muscle For Women: Overview
Remember, how to build muscle for women comes down to mindset, diet, and exercise, most specifically:
- patience to trust that progress will be made
- persistence to stick with a workout routine
- resistance training with weights and dumbbells
- a balanced workout to maintain even muscle mass
- an exercise routine that consists of regular workouts 3 to 5 times a week
- rests between workouts that last at least 48 hours
- a protein and vegetable rich diet that’s also low in carbs
Learn more about losing fat and building muscle in this course. If hardcore weighlifting doesn’t sound like your thing, check out this course on toning and conditioning.