Building muscle is usually easier said than done. Sometimes you even need a completely new approach to your training and daily nutrition for this ambitious goal. Especially women often find it difficult to build muscle mass. This is not so much due to training or a bad diet, but due to the female hormonal balance.
While it has now been proven that there are a variety of health and physical reasons for strength training in women, muscle growth from this alone is minimal. In the female organism there are much less anabolic hormones than in the male organism, and it is exactly these hormones (such as testosterone) that primarily influence muscle building. Therefore, it will probably always be more difficult for women to build muscle mass than for men. Nevertheless, this does not mean that it is impossible for a woman to achieve a muscular body. It just requires a more strategic approach. These 8 tips should help you optimize your muscle building workouts and build increased muscle mass.
If you want to build muscles then it will not be enough to eat just as much as absolutely necessary. Eating adequate amounts of food is one of the most important basics for women who want to build muscle effectively. After all, a strong body needs enough fuel.
Many women can build up the amounts of muscle mass because they simply do not eat enough to support the muscle building process and the body optimally. If you have a calorie balance or even a deficit, then the body can not build muscle. Personally, I like the IIFYM diet (If it fits your macros), because it takes into account the individual requirements of the body and can support your training optimally. But as I said, to build muscle you should have at least a small caloric surplus – and that often means eating more than you thought you should.
Do the splits
There is nothing wrong with a full body workout. Many women can build up quite a bit of muscle mass with this form of training, which involves training the main muscle groups several times a week – especially if they’ve just started working out. But if at some point you don’t make any progress with your training anymore, it’s time for split training at the latest.
It’s important that you come up with an intense weekly workout program that works for you and supports your goals. On certain days you should concentrate on specific muscle groups such as the shoulders, the back and the legs and on other days you should train other muscles. With these "splits" you can train the individual muscle groups more intensively and also attack problem areas more specifically.
There are many ways in which you can arrange a split.
- 2-4 workouts per week: push/pull training ("pushing" exercises on one day, "pulling" exercises on the other)
- 2-4 workouts per week: upper body; lower body
- 3 workouts per week: legs; push; pull
- 4 workouts per week: chest and triceps, back and biceps, legs, shoulders and abdominals
The important thing is that the workouts should still be hard and intense! Take the challenge and push yourself to the limit. It could help you achieve exactly the results you want.
Reduce your cardio sessions
When you increase your calorie and protein intake, the temptation is often to do more cardio as well. After all, you do want to build mass, but you want muscle mass, not fat, right?? However, this mental trap is exactly what keeps many women from effectively building muscle mass.
Every calorie you burn on the exercise bike or treadmill is missing at the end of the day to build muscle mass. If you really want to prevent the buildup of body fat and replace the cardio sessions sensibly, then I recommend that you do squats more often instead and constantly set yourself new limits there.
Lift heavy weights
When building muscle you should always try to lift as much weight as you can. This is the only way to set the best possible stimuli for building muscle in your body. At the same time, make sure to perform the exercise cleanly and correctly, and to do between 8 and 12 repetitions.
Always go to your limit and train as hard as possible. However, don’t expect overnight results, but increase your weights slowly and steadily so that your body can get used to the increased load. Even if you don’t increase the weights for every exercise in every workout, you should at least see an upward trend. If 6 months have passed and you are still lifting exactly the same weights as when you started, then this is a clear sign that you should change your training.
Think about your form
If you are doing numerous reps with tiny and light weights, then a faulty one is not too much of a problem. As soon as it goes to the heavier weights, however, this changes. From now on, form should be your top priority!
Always perform your exercises slowly and in a controlled manner – with every repetition. This way you can better coordinate the movement and put stimuli for muscle growth in the right places.
The good thing about sets of 8 – 12 reps is that they are ideal for building strength while working the right muscles at the right rate.
Eat protein snacks on a regular basis
The most effective diets for building muscle all have two things in common: "adequate calories" and "adequate protein".
If you eat protein regularly throughout the day, your muscles will be able to use the protein better and build muscle mass more effectively. Without a sufficient protein intake, the muscles cannot regenerate properly and consequently cannot grow.
This doesn’t mean you have to eat tons of protein through the same meals over and over again. It is enough to make sure that each of your meals and snacks contains a decent source of protein.
Take recovery days seriously
A nice side aspect of split training or other training plans is the fact that there are scheduled recovery days. The disadvantage? Now, sometimes you may not want to recover at all or you may feel like a recovery day is setting you back. Actually the opposite is the case.
You must give your muscles the opportunity to regenerate completely. It’s usually easy to push and push hard to make your muscles grow, but it’s much harder not to overtrain them – especially if you’re training muscle groups individually.
Take one or two fixed days a week where you cut down on your exercise and give your body time to recover. Light cardio, a walk or a round of cycling are perfectly fine, but stay away from the weight room on those days. This is how you give your muscles the time to regenerate and grow.
Train until fatigue
If you read tips from various fitness gurus on the Internet about muscle building, there is often talk of muscle failure. However, it should much more likely be called technical muscle failure. This means that you have chosen the intensity in such a way that at the end of your sentence you can no longer perform another repetition with decent form.
This is how your muscles are told in no uncertain terms that they need to grow to withstand the strain. Trying to make your workout so intense that in almost every exercise you are unable to perform the last repetition with correct form. Thus, the muscles are maximally fatigued and consequently need to be repaired more, which in turn leads to increased growth.
But as I said, please make sure that you choose your weights so that you can continue to perform the exercises with proper form. Maximum weight and poor form do NOT give good results in muscle building and also lead to injuries faster than big muscles.
Of course, sometimes it can be difficult to find the perfect balance between intensity and form. But once you get a feel for it, you’ll quickly notice significant progress!