Build Muscle in 3 Easy Steps!

Building muscle is not rocket surgery. But lots of women are afraid of this idea. Why? Because they think building muscle means looking bulky. Like Arnold Schwarzenegger. But this is not the case. Without taking steroids, most women will never bulk up because we just don't have the testosterone necessary for building massive muscles.

On the contrary, building muscle while losing body fat will actually make you SMALLER. That's correct. Although muscle does weigh more than fat, muscle takes up LESS space. Even if you weigh more, you will be thinner. Your measurements will DECREASE. You will fit into that pair of skinny jeans. And you will ROCK them!

Muscles improve the way you look. Muscles are curvy and shapely. Strong is not only the new skinny, strong is also the new SEXY. A six-pack looks great on EVERYBODY.

So how do you get those fabulous muscles?

Step 1) Check your diet.

If you are not eating enough protein, all the weight-lifting in the world cannot help you. You need high-quality protein to build muscle. And you need to consume enough of it daily to repair the breakdown that happens when muscle tissue is repaired and thus strengthened. How much is enough? Aim for about 20-30 grams of protein per meal. If you are a small woman, you only need about 20 grams. If you are a big guy, 30 grams per meal. You get the idea. Many women are not getting anywhere near enough protein to build muscle.

What is high quality protein? It comes from animals, not plants. Great sources of protein include whole pastured eggs, dairy from grass-fed cows, wild-caught fish, grass-fed beef, lamb, pork, and poultry.

Twenty grams of protein looks like: 3 whole eggs or 3 oz. lean turkey breast or 4 oz. tuna or a quarter-pound lean beef burger or 1 scoop protein powder (depending on the brand). Get your protein sources into every single meal you eat. You'll start increasing muscle mass in no time!

Step 2) Check your weights.

You can only build muscle by challenging those muscles. If the exercises you are doing are EASY, then you will not build muscle. You might maintain what you have, but you will not increase muscle mass. In order to build muscle, you must challenge your muscles to do something HARD. And that means lifting MORE weight. A couple of biceps curls with a pink 2-pound dumbbell is going to get you NOWHERE!

Body weight exercises are a great place to start as you need absolutely no equipment to do them. If you have a body, you are already equipped. Some examples are planks, push-ups, air squats, lunges, step-ups, pull-ups, crab crawls, bear crawls, and dips. If you have no idea what these words mean, use your Google. And then your youtube.

Or get yourself some HEAVY weights. The kettlebell is an awesome, versatile tool. Don't get the fake kind that only weighs 5 pounds. Get yourself a REAL one. It should weigh over 30 lbs. Then get yourself a trainer to teach you how to use it. Or better yet, join a Crossfit gym and learn TONS of challenging exercises that will kick your butt! (Or come to bootcamp where we explore all of the exercises mentioned above!)

Step 3) Check your rest.

You cannot build muscle without giving your body time off to rest and heal. After working hard and challenging your muscles, you MUST give them time to recover. It is during this recovery time that the actual muscle building occurs. Muscles get stronger when they repair the damage done during exercise. Without those rest periods, you will end up injured, over-trained, exhausted, sick and weaker than when you began.

How much time does it take for a muscle to heal? There is no one answer to that question. You have to discover the formula for your own body. But a good measuring stick is your level of soreness. If you are sore, you need to rest those muscles and let them heal before resuming your workouts. Give yourself at least one day off per week at the very least. You might need more. The older we get, the slower we heal, so adjust your schedule to match your age, fitness level, and intensity of workouts.

Something else to keep in mind: muscle soreness is fine, but joint pain is not. If you have pain in your joints, either during a workout or afterwards, you are doing something wrong. This doesn't mean you have to stop working out, but you should have an experienced coach or teacher check your form. There is no need to injure your joints in order to work your muscles. Correct form is the key to avoiding injury, especially when you use heavy weights.

No more excuses! You want those muscles so go out and get them! Leave a comment below if you are a Howard County resident looking for a holistic personal trainer or a bootcamp class!