It can be hard for women to find resources for building muscle that are tailored to their experiences. Some seem directly relevant only to men. Others include confusing or conflicting advice. You might feel overwhelmed trying to learn about macros, powders, and things you’ve never even heard of. Whether you are looking to look toned or just feel stronger, follow these five simple steps to build muscle.
Eat a nutritious diet.
You might think that the first step to building muscle would be to work out a lot. However, a good diet is foundational to any good exercise program. Your body needs fuel. If you are specifically looking to build and maintain muscle, a nutritious diet rich in protein and calories is important.
If you're not eating enough calories, your body will be forced to break down muscle tissue for energy, which inhibits your muscle growth.
These facts have been scientifically proven in two studies, one published in the Journal of Nutrition in 2007 and one published in the Journal of Applied Physiology in 2009. Both studies found that women who ate a high-protein diet were able to gain more muscle mass than women who ate a lower protein diet.
To build muscle, the key type of exercise women need to engage in is weight lifting. Regularly lifting heavy weights leads to increased strength, improved bone density, and increased muscle mass. It can also help improve joint health and reduce the risk of injuries.
While you don't have to lift the heaviest weights possible, you should be lifting weights that are heavy enough to challenge your muscles.
Studies also support the claim that lifting heavy weights helps build muscle. A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that participants who lifted heavy weights consistently over a 12-week period saw significant increases in strength and muscle mass. Another study, published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, found that participants who lifted heavy weights consistently over a 16-week period had increased bone density. A third study, published in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, found that lifting heavy weights was more effective for building muscle than lifting lighter weights.
It is crucial that you use safe practices when lifting weights. Warm up before lifting. When lifting, be sure to use proper form to avoid joint pain or injuries. You should also be careful not to lift too much weight, instead gradually increasing the amount you lift. Finally, cool down when you finish exercising.
Do compound exercises.
One of the most effective ways to build muscle is to include compound exercises in your workout routines. These exercises stimulate multiple muscle groups and joints at once. This type of training is more efficient than isolation exercises, which work only one muscle group at a time.
A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research compared the effects of a compound exercise (the bench press) and an isolation exercise (the bicep curl) and found that the bench press resulted in greater muscle growth.
Another study, published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, found that compound exercises are more effective than isolation exercises at stimulating testosterone, which is essential for muscle growth.
Use progressive overload techniques.
Progressive overload is gradually increasing the weight you're lifting over time. This is important not only because it can prevent you from injuring yourself from lifting too much too early on but also because it ensures that your muscles are constantly being challenged and forced to grow.
There is a great deal of evidence to support the claim that progressive overload is effective for building muscle in women.
Studies published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research and the journal Sports Medicine found that this technique was an effective strategy for increasing muscle mass in women.
Get adequate rest.
When you work out, your muscles actually tear and break down and then grow back bigger and stronger. In order to recover effectively, they need time to rest. You need to get enough sleep, eat a balanced diet, and take breaks between workouts.
But don’t take our word for it. Scientific evidence supports the claim that adequate rest and recovery is essential for muscle growth.
A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that people who took 48 hours off between workouts had greater muscle growth than those who worked out more frequently. Another study, published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, found that athletes who got more sleep had improved performance.
Building muscle requires dedication and consistency. If you want to see real results, you need to eat a nutritious diet and lift heavy weights regularly.
To be most effective, incorporate compound exercises and progressive overload techniques. And don’t forget to get adequate rest and recovery. If you follow these simple steps, you will be sure to see gains in your muscle growth.