If you are looking to build some lean quality muscle this article is for you.
First off though lets dispel a huge myth when it comes to women lifting weights and building muscle.
You will NOT get big or bulky.
This is a very common fear for a lot of women, but I can assure you that you will not get big, you will not get “bulky”.
Now lets talk about how we can build more muscle.
#1. Eat More Protein
This is the most important thing you can do nutrition wise to increase lean body mass and add some quality muscle to your frame is to eat more protein.
I recommend about .75 to 1.25 gram of protein per lean body pound. Don’t get too caught up with the numbers (women have a tendency to obsess over numbers and macros, no offense.
As well this is just a general number. Without knowing more about your training, recovery, food, age, metabolism and more I can’t say “eat this much protein”.
For the most part if you are lifting and training you need more protein, and more than likely you are not getting enough.
Make it a point that with every meal you have protein. I honestly can’t even eat a meal anymore without first asking myself ‘where is my protein”.
Every meal start with protein.
3-6 meals a day is perfect. You can have a few shakes added in as well as trying to eat that much food is not easy. 3 quality meals with 3 protein shakes should do the job perfect.
#2 Lift Heavy Weights
Most women are afraid of lifting heavy weights. This has to change.
I hear often “I don’t want to get too big” or “I am afraid I am going to hurt myself”.
As stated before you won;’t get big or bulky. As for getting hurt you always want to learn to lift weights with proper form and control. Thankfully most women are very good when it comes to technique and form. Guys tend to muscle lifts often, women rely on technique. Just another reason why i love coaching women.
Don’t be afraid to lift heavier weights. Get away from the 10-15 reps and start doing more sets of 5-8 reps.
If you are looking to build lean muscle and improve your strength check out my 6 Week Squat Program For Women.
#3 Base Your Training Around The Big Compound Lifts
At my gym we have about 5 machines, that’s it.
What we do have is a LOT of barbells, along with dumbells and kettlebells.
If you want to add some muscle (and strength) make friends with the barbell and learn the basic lifts.
Squat, Bench Press, Deadlift, Over Head Press, Rows, Weighted Carries.
These exercises should be the backbone of your training program.
After these exercises you can do some accessory work and body part work, but make sure the big lifts are the main part of your training program.
I train my athletes like powerlifters + bodybuilders + athletes. Read the link below and watch the video for more info.
#4 Cut Back On Your “Cardio”
I think “Cardio” has some benefits, but I also think that women do way too much of it.
I know you may feel better after a 30 min treadmill run or stepper workout, but I don’t think it’s necessary. I also think it may inhibit building muscle as it cuts into recovery and energy.
I do recommend 2-3 HIT conditioning workouts (10-15 minutes) along with a few longer walks or hikes as your main “cardio” source.
Ditch the treadmills and machines. Do more HIT conditioning workouts, do some finisher workouts after you lift and get out for some walks.
#5 Take ZMA, Creatine and L- Carnitine
There are many supplements on the market. Some of them work, a lot of them don’t.
However there are two supplements that can make a big difference in your training, strength and building muscle.
ZMA is a combination of Zinc & Magnesium. Magnesium usually depleted when we train and sweat. As well most foods from the ground should contain magnesium but they don’t anymore. Magnesium is essential for muscles to work. It will also help with your quality of sleep and rest.
I recommend you take ZMA at night before sleep. If you get any crazy dreams just take it in the morning or pre workout. For most women it really helps improve sleep quality.
Creatine is a very safe and effective supplement which will help you improve strength and build lean muscle. It is proven to work and has no side effects. Just be sure to hydrate as this is important for creatine. You will not “hold water” or get puffy or bloated from creatine. These are myths. The big reasons you want to be hydrated as if you are dehydrated there is a higher chance of muscle injury as well creatine won’t work as well if you are dehydrated.
I recommend you take creatine pre and post workout.
L-Carntine is an amino acid that has numerous benefits. It can help with fat loss, improved muscle strength, energy, brain function and much more. It’s very low cost and works very well. I take it first thing in the morning and again pre workout.
For women to build lean muscle it is not easy.
It takes a lot of work, dedication and time.
Don’t believe the myths about getting big or bulky.
Eat more protein, lift heavy weights, add in some accessory work and do some HIT conditioning with a few walks and hikes.
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Coach Rob is the creator and owner of Women Who Lift Weights and Heavy Weights Training Center.
He is a Coach, Writer and Competitive Power Lifter.