Weight training or strength training has several benefits on the body. It helps build muscle density, boost metabolism, improve immunity levels, reduce stress levels, and ward off several types of health issues. Building denser muscles and stronger bones is also important for women as most of them suffer from loss of bone density after the age of 30. This makes them prone to osteoporosis.
However, many women shy away from weight training as they have the fear of getting a muscular body. There is no need to worry as in case of females, their body does not produce enough amount of testosterone that can make them muscular. In this article, we will tell you ways of how women can build muscles without appearing muscular.
Benefits Of Gaining Muscle Mass In Women
Women need to be more proactive in gaining muscle mass. This is because muscles have mitochondria that stimulate metabolism in the body. This causes more calorie loss than when you do cardiovascular exercises. This process of calorie burn is a continuous process. You not just burn calories at the time of workout but throughout the day as well.
Building muscles tones your body. It also helps to prevent muscle degradation after a specific age. Strength training helps in bringing down body fat percentage in the body that in turn prevents you from obesity, diabetes, heart ailment and more. This type of training is also helpful for underweight women. Regular lifting of weights can get them muscle mass and body weight too.
Still not convinced? Here are a few more reasons that will tell you why you need to start weight training today:
1. Increase your body’s strength
When you are stronger, you are more productive. You can execute your daily tasks quickly and efficiently. You would not have to rely on the support of other people to do the job.
2. Combat age-induced muscle degradation
After the age of twenty, our body loses 2 to 3 percent of muscle mass every year. The problem is more visible after the age of 35 when we start to feel joint pains, muscle aches and more. Regular strength training works as an antidote to this problem. It helps to maintain muscle mass and prevents its degradation. In this way, it also prevents them from becoming weak and brittle.
3. Less chances of injury
Another benefit of stronger muscles is that you are less susceptible to injuries. If you have dense bones, ligaments, tendons, then you are less likely to get bone fractures, ruptures, and other damages.
4. Improves posture
A bad posture can cause you health issues in the long run. When you do strength training, it improves your body posture and relieves from pain especially hip pain and back pain. Better posture also keeps your joints in the best shape for many years.
5. Better Appearance
When you strength train your body, you would notice that all the flabbiness that has been on your body earlier will start to lessen. This is because your body uses this flabbiness to develop muscles. The result is a toned, lean and attractive body.
Women who have been struggling to get rid of tummy fat would begin to notice that their tummy has started becoming firm. With strength training, you would lose excess fat from all the areas of the body and get stronger muscles.
6. Live longer
Another important advantage of doing strength training, it that it improves the performance of all the organs of the body. People who have stronger muscles have better immunity levels. They enjoy a healthy body and a long life.
Mechanism of Muscle Building
Before we move on to actual muscle building techniques for women, let us have a look at the components of dense muscles.
1. Building Muscle
Muscles are built when you lift weights. This activity puts stress on muscles and causes tiny ruptures and tears in them. When you feed them with adequate protein, healthy carbs and fats, then they grow stronger and dense. Building muscles is an ongoing task that needs a lot of time to grow. You can’t expect results overnight. It will take a few months to see visible growth in your muscles. Ideally, a person should strength train three to four days a week.
To achieve results, you need to progressively overload your muscles and be consistent in your workout. Exert yourself harder to perform more reps with precision. Keep changing your workout plans as to when you do the same exercise again and again your body gets used to the exercises and you don’t observe any change. So, keep challenging your body, by either increasing weight, number of repetitions, reducing the weight, or incorporating tougher moves.
Also, the moment you stop doing weight training, your body will feel that it doesn’t require dense muscles. So, after periods of inactivity, you begin to lose muscle mass. Due to this reason, you need to be regular in strength training.
However, if you resume after some months, your muscles will not take the same amount of time that it took when you started to build them from scratch. This is because your muscles have a memory. They remember at what weight you had left working out and so u regain your strength in less time.
2. Muscle Recovery
To get the best results from strength training, you need to do it on alternate days. This is because muscle recovery is equally important. If you do not give proper nutrition and rest to your muscles then they will become weak. They will start to shrink than to grow bigger. This will defeat the overall purpose of weight training.
Give your muscles 24 hours of rest to recover. In between workout days, or on your rest days, you should do cardiovascular workouts. Health experts believe that cardio is also needed as it helps you in weight lifting. Doing cardio for two days a week will improve your ability to lift weights.
3. Reducing Body Fat
Cardio exercises help your body reduce body fat percentage. This will give you a leaner and well-shaped appearance. Also, it will help you save from diseases that are caused due to high body-fat percentage. Some of the types of cardio exercises that you can daily are running, jogging, swimming, tennis, bicycling, group exercise, racquetball, and a few more exercises.
It needs a loss of 3,500 more calories in a week to shed half a kilogram in the body. So, with this calculation, you can compute how many minutes of cardio you would need to do to get a firmer, leaner and chiseled body.
4. Healthy Eating
This is the final and very important part of the entire muscle building process. If you ignore this step than irrespective of how hard you are working out, you would not see gains. When your muscles rupture, they need food and rest to recover. Out of the various nutrients, protein is the main ingredient that your muscle will need to grow.
As muscle building leads to more calorie loss, you need to fuel it with more calories. So, along with proteins, you would need to eat high-calorie food that comprises of healthy carbs and healthy fats. Depending on the intensity and frequency of workouts, you should consume 1.5 grams to 2 grams of protein per kilogram of your body weight.
Pre-workout as well as post-workout meals are very important. Pre-workout meals include banana, apple, BCAAs that will give you the required energy to make your workouts intense and power-packed. Post-workout meals are made up of high protein and carbs that help your muscle tissues to recover and build fast.
If you provide all these nutrients in the right amounts with rest, and consistently perform strength training, then you can easily add an inch of muscle mass in just three months. In the initial two months, your body will reduce body fat percentage and you will observe a loss of excess body fat and then the actual muscle building will commence.
List Of Strength Training Exercises For Women
Before you start with the workout, you need to learn about your body. Chest, Legs, and Back are the three major muscles and biceps and triceps are the minor muscles in our body. Here are some of the compound moves that target these areas and build them stronger.
- The Push-Up: This exercise is ideal for building muscles in the chest, triceps and shoulder region.
- The Squat: This is the fundamental exercise in strength training. It is a complete body workout that works in every area of the body. It helps build strength especially the lower body, improves posture, and develops proper mobility.
- The Inverted Row: This is an excellent exercise for developing your back, forearms, and biceps region.
- The Deadlift: Just like squats, the deadlift is the core exercise of strength training. This exercise is again a complete body workout that exercises your arms, hamstrings, and lower back muscles. Also include exercises for biceps with the chest workout.
- The Bench Press: For a stronger chest, bench press is the ideal exercise. Also include exercises for triceps with your chest workout.
- Overhead Press: This exercise can be done in several variations. It targets the muscles in your shoulders and arms.
Start doing exercises that involve only your body weight.
- 20 Bodyweight squats.
- 10 lunges (on each leg)
- 10 Push-up
- 30 Jumping jacks
- 10 Dumbbell rows using a water bottle
- 30 Seconds Plank
once you can easily perform strength workout using body weight, you may now increase the intensity of your workout. Try incorporating lightweight in your workout that in the form of dumbbell or kettlebells:
- 10 goblet squats
- 10 push-ups
- 10 dumbbell rows
- 8 Overhead Presses
- 8 Bent Over Rows
- 6 Reverse Lunge
Once your body is habitual of performing the above exercises, then we can make the moves a little more challenging by doing them with barbells. Do three sets of all these exercises
- 10 repetitions of barbell squats
- 10 repetitions of push-ups
- 10 repetitions of bodyweight rows
- 5 repetitions of barbell Romanian deadlifts
- 10 repetitions of bench presses
- 5 repetitions of pull-ups, negative pull-ups and assisted pull-ups,
- 10 repetitions of the Romanian deadlift
HIIT exercises are High-Intensity Interval Training that helps you maintain a lean body. This workout comprises of short period high-intensity exercises that target different muscle fibers in the body that are important for building muscles. A break of only thirty seconds to one minute is allowed in between the sets.
Some of the best HIIT exercises are high knees, burpees, rope jumping, rope jumping, alternate leg kicks, jumping lunges, squat jumps, side jackknife, battle rope, mountain climbers, leg ins and outs, Russian twist, sit-ups, and crunches.
Diet for Women to Build Stronger Muscles
Your daily diet should comprise of following nutrients. We have listed them in the order of priority.
Protein is the building block of muscles. It is the essential component that will help in repairing your ruptured muscles in the body. Sources like chicken breast, nuts, fish, beans, soy chunks, seeds, eggs, lentils, cheese, dairy items, oily fish, legumes and mushrooms are major sources of protein.
2. Complex Carbohydrates
To build muscles, your body requires a lot of energy. This makes it very important that you eat a high-carb diet. It is important to know that you consider only healthy carbs when preparing your meal. Some of the best sources are: quinoa, whole grain, oats, legumes, sweet potatoes, boiled potatoes, yams and lentils
To prevent cravings for unhealthy food and boost your digestion, add high-fiber veggies and leafy greens in your diet. Some of the best inclusions are broccoli, cauliflower, kale, spinach, sprouts, cucumber, onion, and carrots.
4. Healthy Fats
Your body also needs healthy fats to stimulate recovery and fight inflammation in the body. Nuts, ghee, seeds, rice bran oil, avocado oil, macadamia nuts almonds, walnuts, nut butter, and avocado have plenty of vitamin E in it. Include them in limit amounts in your daily diet.
Other Tips On Strength Training
To get maximum results from your hard work, it is important to follow a few tips:
- Limit Consumption of Alcohol
- Get Adequate Sleep
- Meditate and perform stress-relieving exercises
- Be Positive
- Talk to Experts to stay focused on your goal
- The right form is critical for building strength and muscles and avoiding injuries. Pay attention to the exercise form/technique in all exercises. Focus on maintaining a good form throughout the move than repetitions.
- Enjoy the muscle-building process. The feeling of owning a strong body is going to be a very rewarding, satisfying and thrilling experience
- Boost your testosterone levels by consuming enough monounsaturated fats, reducing sugar intake and obtaining adequate zinc and Vitamin D.
- Include adequate protein with every meal. If you fail to get this nutrient from your daily diet, then you also opt for protein supplements.
Regular exercise, a well-balanced diet, and emotional and physical rest can all help lead your life in a better direction. After reading the benefits of strength training, you must have got excited to make strength training a part of your regular workout regimen. But before you start, we will advise you to discuss your fitness goals with your trainer and a nutritionist for nutrition and exercise guidance.
If you liked this post, then do share it with your friends on social media. Also, you can write to us with any of your suggestions, comments, and queries. We will be happy to address them soon.