The popular misconception is that the only fitness goal women can have is losing weight, so the information on building muscle mass is scarce. Every woman is different and no two bodies are exactly the same, but we can come up with a list of general tips how to build muscle.
Forget about cardio as a main exercise
Do not confuse muscle building with fat burning. These two completely different fitness goals are accomplished by different types of training. The body uses oxygen, fats and carbohydrates to produce fuel for cardio. So, you do need fat in order to do cardio. But what happens if you do not have fat, but you do cardio? Well, the body starts using muscle instead of fat as a main fuel source leading to muscle loss.
You still want cardio?
If you do want to reap the benefits of cardiovascular training, bear in mind that you should avoid it just right before and after weight lifting. If you do cardio before muscle building, you deplete your glycogen stores, which are the source of the energy of your muscles. Additionally, protein synthesis drops after cardio, which means that your body’s ability to gain muscle is impaired.
Cardio after weight training is also not recommended. Weight training breaks down muscle, it is only a stimulus for muscle growing. This is the reason why you should take a protein shake after weight lifting, you need to stop the destruction of muscle. If you do cardio, you break down your lean mass even more, resulting in the situation in which your muscle cannot recuperate and rebuild.
For the best results, you can do cardio training separately from weight training. So if you do weight training four times a week, you can do cardio during the other three days. You do not need more than 30 – 20 minutes of cardio.
Finally, do not do cardio on an empty stomach as this is the easiest way to lose muscle mass.
Common muscle building mistakes
Another misconception is that you should always do the same exercises. The truth is that your weight training routine should vary. After a period of time, your muscles become accustomed to certain exercises and they will not grow.
Do not train in the same rep range. Even though the best way to get lean is to workout in the moderate rep range (6 – 12 reps per set), you should take a linear approach and start with low reps, continue with a short phase of high reps and finish off with moderate reps.
Adapt your diet to weight training
A balanced diet is extremely important. Your diet should focus on proteins since they are the building blocks of muscle. Your goal should be eating 1 1/2 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight. Do not consume a lot of carbs as they will be stored as fat. However, they do give you the energy needed for a training, so you should definitely eat them. The best amount of carbs is 1/3 of your daily amount about 1 1/2 hours before the workout. Do not forget about unsaturated fats. 20 – 30g of unsaturated fats per day is a good start.
The importance of small snacks
If you are serious about muscle building, include these snacks in your workout regime. The most important part of the day is post workout. Take 30g of a protein shake, such as vital strength hydroxy ripped. Pre workout should include one third of a post workout shake. 40 minutes after pre workout shake, you should have 2 – 4 rice cakes and a half of a protein shake. One hour after the last snack, have 1/4 a cup of oats and 1/2 a cup of low-fat cottage cheese.
Finally, patience and perseverance is as important as knowing the right exercise and diet regimes. Do not forget about that!