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...

Featured Videos

Path to the Pros 2015: Marcus Mariota Path to the Pros 2015: Marcus Mariota Views: 1,265,894
Eastbay Path to the Pros Episode 2: Laying the Groundwork Eastbay Path to the Pros Episode 2: Laying the Groundwork Views: 197,143
Eastbay Path to the Pros Episode 4: Skill Training Eastbay Path to the Pros Episode 4: Skill Training Views: 396,957
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

Robert Griffin III Pocket Presence QB Drill Robert Griffin III Pocket Presence QB Drill
Views: 6,866,189
Peyton Manning Dumbbell Bench With 80+ Pounds Peyton Manning Dumbbell Bench With 80+ Pounds
Views: 43,354,155
Ohio State Football Open Field Plyo Drill Ohio State Football Open Field Plyo Drill
Views: 9,501,255
Dustin Pedroia on Training Dustin Pedroia on Training
Views: 10,920,916
Dwight Howard Stays in the Gym All Night Dwight Howard Stays in the Gym All Night
Views: 6,134,125

Load More
More Cool Stuff You'll Like
Olympian Carrie Tollefson's Core Workout

Olympian Carrie Tollefson's Core Workout

Why You Should Add Depth Jumps to Your Workouts

Why You Should Add Depth Jumps to Your Workouts

Troubleshooting the Lunge: How to Fix Your Form

Troubleshooting the Lunge: How to Fix Your Form

The 10-Minute Grip Strengthening Workout

The 10-Minute Grip Strengthening Workout

Bulletproof Shoulders: A Shoulder Training Guide

Bulletproof Shoulders: A Shoulder Training Guide

2015 Summer Training Guide: Football

2015 Summer Training Guide: Football

A Modern Twist to the Original Burpee

A Modern Twist to the Original Burpee

5 Things to Remember When You Wing Your Workout

5 Things to Remember When You Wing Your Workout

There Might Be a Good Reason Tim Tebow Looks This Ridiculous

There Might Be a Good Reason Tim Tebow Looks This Ridiculous

Building Functional Balance for Figure Skaters

Building Functional Balance for Figure Skaters

10-Minute Dynamic Warm-Up for Any Workout

10-Minute Dynamic Warm-Up for Any Workout

Are You Using the Right Weight for Every Exercise?

Are You Using the Right Weight for Every Exercise?

Fix 7 Common Problem Areas with Exercises From Todd Durkin

Fix 7 Common Problem Areas with Exercises From Todd Durkin

Mix Up Your Workout With Unique Partner Exercises

Mix Up Your Workout With Unique Partner Exercises

2015 Summer Training Guide: Baseball

2015 Summer Training Guide: Baseball

What Sport Coaches Need to Know About Strength and Conditioning

What Sport Coaches Need to Know About Strength and Conditioning

Why Single-Arm and Single-Leg Training is Better for Athletes

Why Single-Arm and Single-Leg Training is Better for Athletes

2015 Summer Training Guide: Soccer

2015 Summer Training Guide: Soccer

Use Single-Leg Strength to Enhance Soccer Performance

Use Single-Leg Strength to Enhance Soccer Performance

Build Powerful Muscles With Velocity-Based Training

Build Powerful Muscles With Velocity-Based Training

Why Reverse Lunges Are Better Than Forward Lunges

Why Reverse Lunges Are Better Than Forward Lunges

How to Build Strong Neck Muscles

How to Build Strong Neck Muscles

Building Brakes for More Speed

Building Brakes for More Speed

3 Simple Tips to Gain Muscle Mass

3 Simple Tips to Gain Muscle Mass

Go Against Traditional Workout Order for Bigger Gains

Go Against Traditional Workout Order for Bigger Gains

2015 Summer Training Guide: Lacrosse

2015 Summer Training Guide: Lacrosse

Build Lower-Body Power with This Squat Workout

Build Lower-Body Power with This Squat Workout

Marcus Mariota's Speed and Strength Workout

Marcus Mariota's Speed and Strength Workout

9 Ways to Improve Your Squat Technique

9 Ways to Improve Your Squat Technique

3 Bear Crawl Variations for Better Core Strength

3 Bear Crawl Variations for Better Core Strength

2015 Summer Training Guide: Wrestling

2015 Summer Training Guide: Wrestling

The Squat Variation That Torches Your Core

The Squat Variation That Torches Your Core

2015 Summer Training Guide: Basketball

2015 Summer Training Guide: Basketball

Full-Body Training: 4 Dumbbell Ring Training Exercises

Full-Body Training: 4 Dumbbell Ring Training Exercises

2015 Summer Training Guide: Track

2015 Summer Training Guide: Track

Strength Isn’t Just How Much You Can Lift on a Barbell

Strength Isn't Just How Much You Can Lift on a Barbell

2015 Summer Training Guide: Softball

2015 Summer Training Guide: Softball

Build Elite Strength With This Training System

Build Elite Strength With This Training System

2015 Summer Training Guide: Volleyball

2015 Summer Training Guide: Volleyball

YardBarker