Gaining muscle is super important for women, especially as we get older. Not only does muscle gain help you grow stronger, it boosts your metabolism, helping you lose weight, and it also lowers your risk of fractures due to osteoporosis. If you’re worried about bulking up- don’t be. Bodyweight training and strength training allow you to tone up in a healthy way, making you strong and confident. Want to know how to gain muscle the right way? Here are the best workouts and muscle-gaining foods for women!
How to Gain Muscle: 5 Do’s and Don’ts for Women
1. Don’t Skip Recovery Days
Although exercising is important for strength and muscle growth, rest and recovery is just as crucial. Your muscles break down when you exercise, and the growth happens when you rest. If you exercise everyday without any recovery, your muscles continue to break down without repairing themselves. If you’re doing full body workouts, train 2-3 days per week, and if you follow an upper/lower body split routine, 3-4 days is ideal, with recovery days in between.
2. Don’t Change Up Workouts Too Often
If your goal is to build muscle mass, continually changing up your workouts isn’t the best route to take. It may be fun to switch up your exercise routine, but sticking to the same program for 4-6 weeks before you change things up is the way to go if you want to gain muscle.
3. Do Increase Your Protein Intake
Protein is key to building muscle. Protein contains amino acids, which are the building blocks to gaining muscle. Aim for 1-1.5 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight. It’s important to get some form of protein at every meal, and even more important to consume protein immediately after you workout. Your body has the greatest anabolic window post-workout, sending protein to your muscles for quick repair. Protein supplements are a great way to ensure your muscles are getting everything they need for building, breaking, and repairing tissue.
4. Don’t Cut Carbs
Cutting out carbs is one of the biggest mistakes people make when trying to gain muscle. Carbs contain essential macronutrients required for optimal health. They help you feel full for longer and give you the energy you need to get through your workouts. If you eat too little carbs, your body will dip into your protein supply for fuel. This takes fuel directly from your muscles, causing them to stop growing as quickly as they would with a balanced amount of carbs and protein.
5. Do Lift Heavier Weights As You Become Stronger
As you become stronger and your muscles begin to grow, it’s important to lift progressively heavier weights or perform harder bodyweight exercises. Lifting light weights doesn’t promote muscle growth, no matter how many reps you do. Bodyweight exercises like push-ups and lifting weights creates mechanical tension, which slightly damages the muscle, causing a growth response. If you don’t continue to increase the weight, you’re not likely to gain more muscle.
7 Muscle-Building Foods for Women
Eggs are a great source of high quality protein, which we already know is essential for muscle repair and growth. Eggs contain a large amount of the amino acid called leucine, which is particularly important for muscle gain. On top of protein, eggs contain healthy fats and nutrients like B vitamins and choline, which help with functions like energy production.
Salmon has a hefty dose of protein, omega-3 fatty acids and a number of important B vitamins. Omega-3 fatty acids play a key role in muscular health and can even increase muscle gain during exercise.
Shrimp are pretty much pure protein. They’re low in fat and have zero carbs, and while healthy fats and carbs are essential to a proper diet, eating shrimp is a great way to get your protein without too many added calories. Like eggs, shrimp are high in the amino acid leucine, needed for optimal muscle growth.
4. Chicken Breast
Chicken breast is packed with protein, and contain a good dose of B vitamins niacin and B6- both particularly important if you live an active lifestyle. These vitamins help your body function properly during physical activity and exercise that leads to muscle gain.
5. Turkey Breast
Turkey breast is high in protein and low in fat and carbs. It’s a quality source of the B vitamin niacin, which helps process fats and carbs in your body. Like chicken breast, the presence of B vitamins will help muscle gain by supporting your body’s ability to exercise.
Beans such as black beans and kidney beans are an excellent source of protein, and also contain fibre and B vitamins. On top of that, they’re high in phosphorus, magnesium and iron, so are crucial to your health overall. They’re a must for a lean muscle gain diet.
Chickpeas are an amazing source of carbs and protein, and have a good dose of fibre as well. While animal protein is still seen as the “best” source of protein, chickpeas are an amazing source of protein for anyone following a plant based diet, or who wants to cut down on meat.
3 Muscle-Building Workouts for Women
25-Minute Total Body Strength Training for Women (Burn Fat, Lean Up) | Joanna Soh Official
This 25-minute workout is ideal for anyone who wants to build muscle, get stronger and look toned. It consists of a total of 4 supersets and 2 exercises per superset. There are 8 exercises total, with the 2 exercises performed back-to-back for a total of 3 sets. The first superset works your legs, thighs and glutes, the second works your back and chest, the third works your arms and core and the fourth works your core. You get a full body workout, strengthening all your muscles!
Total Body Circuit Workout // Strength + Cardio | Heather Robertson
This total body workout targets every muscle group from your legs to your upper body to your core and glutes. It’s a combination of strength and cardio exercises to help you slim down and tone up, gaining muscles in all the right places! You’ll feel great and look great after this whole body circuit!
10 Min Toned Arms Workout (At Home Minimal Equipment) | MadFit
As we age, women in particular lose their upper body strength. If you want to focus on building you arm muscles and upper body, this is the perfect workout for you. You’ll tone your upper body, building strength in your arms, with exercises like boxing punches, tricep dips and bicep curls. All you need is a pair of dumbbells and exercise mat, and you can start doing this arm workout from the comfort of your home.
If you’re looking to gain muscle, these workouts and foods will help you build strength and tone your body! Build them into your regular routine and watch the benefits roll in!