I was ready to stop feeling that way.
I think all the girls know what I mean. You are not happy with your body.
No, this was not a simple “bad hair day” or bad photo someone took of me. I was thin, but I still didn’t like what I saw.
No, my friends could not understand what I was going on about. They were jealous I could wear a swimsuit without having to diet or slip into a bodycon dress with ease.
But one of my gym friends understood, and I had followed her Instagram throughout her whole transformation.
A formerly chubby girl, she had discovered the joys of weight training and turned herself into a woman of muscle and empowerment.
I was ready to do the work and put in the time and effort needed. I wanted into this healthy and powerful club, and here’s how I did it!
Part 1: Learning the Basics
Muscle growth in women happens when muscles are placed under greater stress. This causes the muscle fibers to become damaged, which the body must repair.
Every time these muscles go through repair and recovery, the strength and thickness of the muscle fibers increase.
Your body is adapting to the stress and becoming stronger and better at handling these loads.
Progressively lifting heavy dumbbells, barbells and kettlebells is the way to put those muscles to the test and encourage growth.
You have to also watch your nutrition. It’s all about eating the correct amount of calories and the right macros, or macronutrients.
(These are the healthy fats, carbs and proteins you need). The more diligent you are about these areas, the more your muscles will grow.
You also need to make sure you are doing the right workouts as well.
In fitness magazines for women, we often see yoga, cardio and small dumbbells as being the thing to do. These are great exercises, but they are not going to give us the results we want.
Your best bet is to do compound movements that will activate many muscle groups at once. Doing these moves will allow you to lift heavier weights for each rep than you would get with isolation exercises.
Consider bicep curls-these only activate the biceps.
But a lunge plus bicep curl works the quads and the biceps!
That being said, here are a few basic moves you might already know about.
Mastering these basics will put you on the road to success!
Part II: Doing the Workout
Okay ladies, I love Instagram. But I am going to be real with you: what you see is not always what you get.
Some models make it look like the gym is a place to look cute. But these workouts are anything but. You will sweat, grunt, and maybe even cuss.
But it’s going to look amazing on you once you are done!
So, stick with it.
Use Whitney Simmons as your inspiration!
Here is a sample beginner’s workout.
Here’s the workout!
Your gym employees can show you how to use the machines and where they can be found in your gym.
Alternatively, bring an experienced gym friend to show you how.
Part III: Eating Right
Your work in the gym is really important, but the way you eat matters too.
I was eating whatever I felt like and although I was doing okay weight-wise, I was what you might call “skinny fat” and I did not like it one bit!
Thankfully, you can get into healthier eating habits by making sure you get enough calories, carbs and proteins.
Without these fuels, your muscles will lack the energy they need to build and get strong. I got some or my ideas from Self Starter Life!
Even if your goal is to lose fat, you should increase your calorie intake ever so slightly.
Building muscle takes a lot of energy however, so we will focus on the bulk phase. Calorie needs vary from person to person. You have to consider your age and activity level.
For example, a woman who is aged 35 and is active needs about 2200 calories a day to just maintain her weight. But to gain muscle mass, she would have to eat more.
But do not fear-you don’t need to eat too much more. For this 35-year-old, that’s about 110-210 calories. A delicious protein bar is one way to get these calories.
Protein is the most important factor when it comes to building muscle. Your muscles are made of protein and without enough, they cannot build.
You should eat one gram of protein per pound of body weight each day.
This is way more than the recommended, but if you are a person looking to build muscle, it is needed.
Choose quality protein that is lean and high quality. This is chicken, eggs, fish, tofu, and low-fat dairy products as well as beans. You can also choose nuts and seeds as protein, too.
Carbs get a bad rap, but they are absolutely necessary to make those muscles grow.
We don’t mean carbs in the form of donuts and dinner rolls: we’re talking good carbs like:
- Brown rice
- Sweet potatoes
- Lentils and beans
- Broccoli and leafy greens
Refined grains, sugary drinks, baked goods, and candy and potato chips are not the kind of carbs you want. These just end up killing your energy, limiting gains and adding fat.
This brings us to our next topic: Fats. Fats are critical to our health especially in the form of polyunsaturated fat and monounsaturated fats.
You get these fats from sources like fish, seeds, avocados, olive oil and nuts. You should get .3 grams of fat per pound of your body weight for optimal performance.
It is best that you calculate your needs of protein and fats first, then get the rest of your energy from carbs.
Cutting Vs. Bulking
A person bulks when their goal is to build muscle.
To start, let’s be clear-this does not mean you can eat whatever you want because you are bulking.
So, put down that candy bar! Bulking the smart way means keeping fat gain to minimum but still maintaining a balanced diet.
When you bulk eat things like brown rice, oats, and of course sweet potatoes per your calorie needs.
A person cuts when they seek to lose fat.
This is when you lose fat but keep all the muscle you have worked so hard to build up. You should alternate between bulking and cutting until you get as lean as you would like to be.
When you cut, you want to drop the quantity of these carbs, but keep protein levels the same along with slightly increasing your healthy fats.
This can be hard, so some athletes like to use supplements that help with cutting. My fave
ANAVAR can help you with your body goals too, especially when it’s time to cut instead of bulk!
How Often Should I Work Out?
Working each of your muscle groups twice per week is the most effective way of building mass, says a Sports Medicine journal study.
You can work them three times a week, but the researchers were not able to determine if it was more effective than the twice-weekly workouts.
There are many ways for you to split up your workouts in an effective manner. You might try an upper/lower body split. Here is a sample weekly workout plan for a Monday-Friday routine:
Monday: Work the upper body
Tuesday: Work the lower body
Wednesday: Cardio/Abs workout
Thursday: Upper Body again
Friday: Lower Body again
In this manner, you always have something new to do in the gym, and you can target each muscle group two times a week.
If weekends work better on your schedule, simply switch out two weekdays for your weekend days.
Be sure that you leave one day in between working the same muscle group so your body can recover.
Lifting weights and training in this manner can be such a confidence booster! You will love how you look and the strength you gain from eating healthfully and working out will make you feel like a million dollars.