A Female Guide to Building Lean Muscle in a Healthy Way

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woman running

 

With so much attention being put on weight loss and how to lose unwanted fat, women can have a difficult time breaking away from the preconceived notion that the thigh gap is something they should strive towards. Sure, losing weight should be one of your goals if you know you’re overweight or if you’re not satisfied with how you look, but for many women out there, it’s more about the lack of lean muscle mass.

Muscle is what gives you definition and shapes your physique into that hourglass figure that not only looks good but is functional and powerful as well. Muscle gives you energy and power, and it makes you stronger both physically and mentally. Whether you’re an amateur or a professional athlete, or if you’re just someone who wants to sculpt a better physique, your focus should definitely be on building more lean muscle mass.

Here’s how you can do that safely and in a healthy way.

Prefer the mirror over the scale

female

First things first, let’s settle an age-old debate – should you focus on the weight on the scale or on the reflection in the mirror? The answer is that you can do both, but there is a catch when it comes to transforming your physique. The weight scale is very one-dimensional, only telling you how much you weigh without taking into account how much muscle vs fat you have. The mirror, on the other hand, tells you everything you need to know about your physique, but it doesn’t tell you exactly how much you weigh.

As a woman, you might be swayed into pursuing a lower number on the scale, but that might actually set you back. Remember, a pound of muscle is way denser and smaller than a pound of fat, meaning that you can be a certain weight but look vastly different depending on how much muscle vs fat you have on your body.

This means, ladies, that you should predominantly focus on the mirror. If you’re not satisfied with what you see, then that means that you need to keep working towards your goals. In time, you might end up heavier than you were before you started, but you will look leaner and healthier than ever.

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Don’t fear the weight rack

female lifting weights

One of the biggest myths that somehow always seems to survive throughout the years is that women can get big and bulky by training with weights, and that you should always stick with cardio. For all of you who are serious about building the body of your dreams take note – resistance training will not get you big or bulky, and it is the best way to build lean and functional muscle mass.

As a woman, you don’t have the amount of testosterone necessary to build huge muscles. Heck, not even men who stick to natural muscle-building and supplementation have enough testosterone to get huge. Your focus should be on training with weights several times a week to stimulate muscle growth and burn unwanted fat quicker. Cardio is great and all, but it won’t build the muscle you want. 

Tidy up your nutrition and supplementation

vegetable cookbook

Nutrition and supplementation are two important elements of building lean muscle mass in a healthy and sustainable way. When we say sustainable, we mean the ability to progressively see better results over time without succumbing to injury or fatigue. Choosing the right supplements is important if you want to add lean muscle mass but also lose unwanted fat. For example, combining a protein supplement with Synephrine HCL is a good way to keep building muscle but prevent gaining weight, and even lose fat during this period. 

That said, you can only experience the full benefits of supplementation if you complement it with a healthy diet plan. Now, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to nutrition – you need to calculate your daily caloric requirements, and allocate your macronutrients accordingly. You can use a free online calorie calculator for that, and make sure not to exclude any macronutrient completely from your diet, because you need healthy proteins, fats, and carbs to thrive at the gym.

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Structure your cardio sessions wisely

woman with kettlebell

Even though your focus should be on resistance training if you want to build lean muscle mass and even boost your energy and mood, that doesn’t mean that you should ditch cardio completely. Cardio training has its purpose, mainly to improve cardiovascular endurance, facilitate fat burning, and increase your overall performance.

This will help you get rid of excess fat faster, but if you’re on a mission to build more lean muscle, you may want to take a different approach to cardio. Instead of going with steady-state cardio like running, for example, you can do heavy, impact cardio like hitting the boxing bag. Hitting the heavy bag for a few rounds will burn a lot of calories, but it will also act as a form of resistance training to help you build muscle even faster.  

Optimize your schedule for rest and recovery

Lastly, keep in mind that proper rest and recovery is essential for building muscle, but also for boosting your overall well-being. If you simply try to work resistance training into your busy schedule without allocating enough time for proper sleep, for example, pretty soon you’re going to start regressing, and you may even injure yourself in the process.

With that in mind, make sure to sleep at least seven hours every night, and on your off days make sure to tend to some active recovery like yoga, walking, and light cardio. 

Over to you

Building muscle is one of the best ways for women to build the physique of their dreams, because lean muscle is what gives your body that hourglass figure. Not only that, but muscle is functional and it keeps you fit and strong, so make sure to use this guide to create a healthy approach to diet, training, and recovery that will get you the body you always wanted.