How to Build Muscle for Women

January 4, 2013 | Brian Lebo

Must See Strength Training Videos


Ladies, if your goals are to build lean muscle and get defined, here's a simple, three-part plan for you:

  • Weight/Resistance Training
  • Cardiovascular Exercise
  • Diet & Nutrition

The plan for building muscle for women is simple, but it's going to take some work. The key is, you've got to build muscle and lose fat. Strength training is great, and it will definitely help you build lean muscle. But if you don't also lose fat, your new muscle will be "stuck" under a layer of fat. You've got to reduce your body fat percentage, and that's where cardio and diet come into play.

Weight/Resistance Training

For best results, strength train at least twice a week, three whenever possible. If you follow the plan, you can begin to see results—muscle gain, fat loss, improved definition—within 6 to 8 weeks. As an added benefit, weight training can boost your metabolism (muscle is thermogenic, which means it burns fat; research shows the metabolic effects of strength training persist for up to 48 hours!), helping you burn more calories throughout the day—even when you're at rest! Learn more about the benefits of weightlifting for women.

If you're looking for exercises that will maximize your return on investment, you'll want to incorporate compound exercises, those that engage multiple joints and muscle groups—like the Deadlift, Squat, and Bench Press. These exercises are terrific for building lean muscle and incinerating fat. For each exercise, find a weight that challenges you through three sets of 8-12 repetitions. If the last few reps of your last set aren't challenging (you should barely be able to complete them), it's time to increase the weight. Minimize your rest time between sets; aim for no more than 30 seconds.

How to Build Muscle for Women

Cardiovascular Exercise

Forget the slow, steady stuff. High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is the way to go, and here's why: intermittent bouts of short duration, high-intensity exercise help to free fat from storage and get it into the bloodstream where it can be used as an energy source. With this strategy, you can accomplish more in less time. For an added benefit, perform your cardio after your strength training. Research shows that cardio performed after strength training burns more fat than cardio alone. Now, back to HIIT. I like a 3:1 rest to work ratio. This ensures that you have recovered enough between intervals to go hard for the next interval. Here's an example, which lends itself to any form of cardio: go as hard as you can for 30 seconds. For the next 90 seconds, maintain an easy pace. That's one (2-minute) interval. Repeat (immediately) four more times, for a total of five 2-minute intervals (10-minutes total training time). Be prepared... it'll wear you out!

Diet & Nutrition

It's been said that abs are made in the kitchen. Your diet is an essential part of this plan. You don't have to be extreme or fanatical about it, but you have to be disciplined and consistent. That means you've got to do your best to avoid fried, processed, and refined foods. For the most part, stick to foods that provide lean protein, clean carbs, and healthy fats. Aim for 5 or 6 evenly-spaced meals throughout the day. You need a combination of carbs and protein both before (30-90 minutes) and after (within 30 minutes) your workouts. Carbs provide energy and replenish depleted glycogen stores, and protein is essential to rebuild and repair muscle. Learn how to create an athlete meal plan.

 

Topics: BUILD MUSCLE
Brian Lebo
- Brian Lebo is the owner and director of Athletic Performance Training Center, a strength and conditioning facility in North Royalton, Ohio. He specializes in helping...
Brian Lebo
- Brian Lebo is the owner and director of Athletic Performance Training Center, a strength and conditioning facility in North Royalton, Ohio. He specializes in helping...
Must See
Colin Kaepernick Explains His Ridiculous Socks Colin Kaepernick Explains His Ridiculous Socks
Views: 28,026,930
Patrick Willis' Homegrown Off-Season Workout Patrick Willis' Homegrown Off-Season Workout
Views: 1,226,447
Why You Should Never Doubt Colin Kaepernick Why You Should Never Doubt Colin Kaepernick
Views: 20,819,120

Featured Videos

Real Workouts: Randall Cobb Real Workouts: Randall Cobb Views: 20,496
Greg Nixon's Full-Body Dumbbell Circuit Greg Nixon's Full-Body Dumbbell Circuit Views: 317,794
SEALFIT: Pushing the Limits of What Athletes Are Capable Of SEALFIT: Pushing the Limits of What Athletes Are Capable Of
Load More

Resources

STACK Fitness

Everything you need to be fitter than ever

STACK Conditioning

Sport-specific conditioning programs

Coaches and Trainers

Tips and advice for coaches and trainers

Magazine

Latest issues of STACK Magazine

STACK 4W

Women's sports workout, nutrition and lifestyle advice

Gamer

Gaming, entertainment and tech news

Basic Training

Military-style training for athletes

News

Find the latest news relevant to athletes

Most Popular Videos

Derrick Rose Explains How He Stays Positive Derrick Rose Explains How He Stays Positive
Views: 6,081,054
Allyson Felix Explains How To Choose a Coach Allyson Felix Explains How To Choose a Coach
Views: 8,690,928
Dustin Pedroia on Training Dustin Pedroia on Training
Views: 10,919,945
Charging Ground Balls With Skip Schumaker Charging Ground Balls With Skip Schumaker
Views: 29,869
Yoga for Athletes: Crow Pose Yoga for Athletes: Crow Pose
Views: 3,539,411

Load More
More Cool Stuff You'll Like
The Top 10 Mistakes Athletes Make in the Weight Room

The Top 10 Mistakes Athletes Make in the Weight Room

The weight room should be an athlete's second home during the offseason. A well-structured strength and conditioning plan can help an athlete build...

Increase Athletic Strength with Rotational Bodyweight Training

Increase Athletic Strength with Rotational Bodyweight Training

Train Like a Pro: Los Angeles Lakers Strength Training Program

Train Like a Pro: Los Angeles Lakers Strength Training Program

Get Faster to Pitch Harder

Get Faster to Pitch Harder

Todd Durkin's Complete Football Strength Training Program

Todd Durkin's Complete Football Strength Training Program

3 Keys to Better Softball Workouts

3 Keys to Better Softball Workouts

Use Wave Loading to Take Your Strength to the Next Level

Use Wave Loading to Take Your Strength to the Next Level

Use Sled Pushes to Increase Speed, Strength and Power

Use Sled Pushes to Increase Speed, Strength and Power

How to Use the Pallof Press for an Iron Core

How to Use the Pallof Press for an Iron Core

Train Like a Pro: Baseball Strength Workout Program

Train Like a Pro: Baseball Strength Workout Program

How to Recover From a Soccer Game or Workout

How to Recover From a Soccer Game or Workout

Jump Higher After a Month With These 3 Exercises

Jump Higher After a Month With These 3 Exercises

German Volume Training: How to Pack on Muscle Mass

German Volume Training: How to Pack on Muscle Mass

Not Making Bench Press Gains? Try These Strategies

Not Making Bench Press Gains? Try These Strategies

Build a Strong Upper Body With These Landmine Exercises

Build a Strong Upper Body With These Landmine Exercises

Tobin Heath's Powerful Leg Workout

Tobin Heath's Powerful Leg Workout

How You Can Olympic Lift With an Injury

How You Can Olympic Lift With an Injury

Speed Drill of the Day: Reverse Lunges

Speed Drill of the Day: Reverse Lunges

Is It Too Soon for Olympic Lifts?

Is It Too Soon for Olympic Lifts?

3 Habits of Highly Successful Coaches

3 Habits of Highly Successful Coaches

Train Like a Pro: MLS Soccer Strength Program

Train Like a Pro: MLS Soccer Strength Program

Build Muscle With the 2-Second Pause Workout Program

Build Muscle With the 2-Second Pause Workout Program

Abby Wambach's Strength and Speed Workout

Abby Wambach's Strength and Speed Workout

Paul Rabil's Powerful Rotational Strength Workout

Paul Rabil's Powerful Rotational Strength Workout

4 Tips for Reducing Deadlift Back Pain

4 Tips for Reducing Deadlift Back Pain

8-Exercise Advanced Chest and Back Workout

8-Exercise Advanced Chest and Back Workout

Build Strong Legs with the Leg Press Lockdown Workout

Build Strong Legs with the Leg Press Lockdown Workout

2 Brutal 10-Minute Workouts That Deliver Serious Results

2 Brutal 10-Minute Workouts That Deliver Serious Results

Speed Drill of the Day: Weighted Arm Swings

Speed Drill of the Day: Weighted Arm Swings

Bicep Curl Grip Guide: How Hand Placement Changes the Exercise

Bicep Curl Grip Guide: How Hand Placement Changes the Exercise

The 4 Best and Worst Cable Machine Exercises

The 4 Best and Worst Cable Machine Exercises

3 Keys to a Solid Squat Setup

3 Keys to a Solid Squat Setup

5 Quick Workout Fixes for Faster Muscle Growth

5 Quick Workout Fixes for Faster Muscle Growth

Build Bulletproof Chest Strength With This Unconventional Method

Build Bulletproof Chest Strength With This Unconventional Method

Build Athletic Strength with the Playground Sandbag Workout

Build Athletic Strength with the Playground Sandbag Workout

Train Like a Pro: Julio Jones 3-Day Sandbag Strength Program

Train Like a Pro: Julio Jones 3-Day Sandbag Strength Program

Kevin Love's In-Season Workout

Kevin Love's In-Season Workout

3 Reasons Why You Should Do Full-Body Workouts

3 Reasons Why You Should Do Full-Body Workouts

Get Faster With This Weightlifting Technique

Get Faster With This Weightlifting Technique

The Un-Liftable Inch Dumbbell: Can You Handle Its Challenge?

The Un-Liftable Inch Dumbbell: Can You Handle Its Challenge?

Add Surprise Sets for a Great Workout Finisher

Add Surprise Sets for a Great Workout Finisher

Train Like a Pro: Henrik Zetterberg's Hockey Strength Workout

Train Like a Pro: Henrik Zetterberg's Hockey Strength Workout

Why Your Instagram Box Jump Isn't That Impressive

Why Your Instagram Box Jump Isn't That Impressive

Train Like a Pro: James Harden's Basketball Maintenance Workout

Train Like a Pro: James Harden's Basketball Maintenance Workout

Abby Wambach's Soccer Power Workout

Abby Wambach's Soccer Power Workout

YardBarker