Your best guide to building muscle for women


Don’t be swayed by a title that says “women’s muscle.” In most cases, that conjures up an image of a female bodybuilder with a ripped body bulging muscles and veins protruding!! Get that out of your head right now because a woman with muscle can look like this too.

The truth is and this is science, even women need muscle. In fact human beings without muscle would be lethargic, fatigued and tired even from simple household tasks, leave alone venture out for work.

Muscle is extremely important for the human body and it is synthesized form the protein that you eat. But!! You won’t develop muscle by just eating protein and sitting around all day, you have to work for it.

Be physically active because if you don’t, then the food you eat gets stored as fat. Excess protein if not metabolized and eliminated then causes further problems.

Lady that is in shape

Without muscle and exercise, you can develop skinny fat.

While being thin is a much desired body profile, it could also mean a body without muscle which is termed skinny fat. You haven’t been doing a stitch to get that fat burned from your body which is why your body consists of fat and no muscle.

Skinny fat and obese anorexic are the same thing and mind you SKINNY does not mean being healthy. Even if you look super thin, you could be classified as overweight because The World Health Organization defines obesity by a BMI of 30 or greater, so you could be thin but your body is just skin and fat.

Why Muscle is important

To maintain muscle tone at any age is important. It isn’t about looking good in a bikini, it’s all about your very health which is why being active earlier in life to strengthen and build up muscle helps us as we age because that is when muscles start to degenerate. Thus building up our muscles can prolong and delay the degeneration phase due to age.

Weak muscles lead to:

  • Fatigue
  • Tiredness
  • Weakness
  • Increase the risk of disease
  • Imbalance
  • Cramps
  • Increased risk of injury
  • Inflammation
  • Increased stress
  • Irregular sleep
  • Lack of libido

The list is endless. As you lose muscle in age, it can lead to poor balance and a greater risk of falls and injuries. Losing muscle means you lose your strength to support you body.

Your energy levels also decrease because muscles also provide us energy. The only way to prevent losing muscle mass is by physical exercise notably strength training throughout your life that will support your muscles making them stranger, healthy and function through the later stages of life.

What type of muscle should you build up as a woman?

It all depends on the kind of person you are. If you aren’t into bodybuilding and prefer a healthy profile, then lean muscle is just the thing to get your body super toned and in shape.  

You want those curves in the right places, shapely legs, a firm butt, and strong but well shaped arms. In short, being toned gives you a hot bod. All you need to do is start training to add muscle in the right parts of your body and reduce your BMI to 20%.

One of the cardinal mistakes most women make is to focus on exercises for weight or fat loss. Although this isn’t bad but it won’t work to build muscle.

muscular women

According to scientific studies, fat burning exercises may actually increase post workout appetites making you consume more calories than you burned because research found that people tend to reward themselves for the physical achievements.

But! If you combine your training with strength and muscle building workouts, you won’t be compensating with more calories. Here is another great website you can read that offers Health and Beauty Directory options from reliable sources.

Benefits of muscle building exercises

  • Increased metabolism to burn calories post workout
  • Faster muscle recovery
  • Triggers hormones to b urn fast
  • Curbs appetite
  • Prevention of muscle breakdown

Women can also burn muscle as effectively as men

Don’t be taken in by those who tell you that just because you are a woman, you can’t build muscle efficiently.  Besides the fact that women produce less testosterone (the main hormonal that drives muscle growth) than men, it doesn’t mean you can’t build muscle as effective as men. That is a myth because testosterone isn’t the only hormone that comes into play where muscle gain is concerned. Estrogen, the female hormone is just as important for muscle building and as you know, women produce much more estrogen than men.

Here’s how estrogen benefits your body in muscle building

  • Assistance in post workout recovery
  • Prevention of muscle breakdown
  • Increases metabolism
  • Improves muscle strength and quality

Improve estrogen metabolism

estrogen and progesterone roles

Now this is one important point to remember. When women need estrogen to improve their muscle profile, what happens in menopause when your body produces less estrogen do you lose your muscle?? The answer is obviously no!! and the reasons are outlined earlier in the article.

When you workout, are physically active and eat healthy at a younger age, those benefits support you when you’re older which is exactly why you need to build muscle and maintain your health when you can do so. This doesn’t mean you can’t maintain and support your body as you age.

There are women who will surprise you with fantastic bodies and amazing health even in old age. It only boils down to a choice of choosing a healthier lifestyle or not.

Estrogen when in balance can be beneficial for our bodies; but too much can increase fat.  

Your body gets excess estrogen from synthetic sources such as plastic. Poor estrogen metabolism is another reason combined with poor diet, lack of muscle mass and lack of exercise.

Eliminate toxic estrogen

Improving estrogen metabolism requires eliminating toxic estrogen exposure such as reducing your dependency on plastics.

Get enough physical activity and exercise such as weight and strength training to improve body composition. Resort to a healthy diet that contains more vegetable and fruits packed with antioxidants such as cruciferous veggies like broccoli and cauliflower.

If you love your meat, then restrict yourself to healthy lean meat such as turkey and chicken breast along with fish that gives you a rich source of omega 3 fatty acids.

The bottom line is while women produce less testosterone, they can balance this with good estrogen and growth hormone which women produce more of during daytime that can increase muscle building.

How women can build muscle and look feminine and fit

Don’t be swayed by all those advisories showing you how to get a toned body. You need to get toned as well as have muscle because you may just about end up getting skinny fat instead.

Women need to gain at least 10-20 pounds of muscle and maintain a body fat percentage of 20%. In this way you maintain a feminine and fit body with ample muscle.

The most important steps to building muscle are:

  • Diet: Eating a balanced amount of proteins, carbs and healthy fat
  • Muscle building workouts: A combination of fat burning plus strength training exercises
  • Maintain your calorie count: Be sure to get the right amount of calories no more or less.

How to maintain your Diet

The trick in maintaining a healthy diet conducive to muscle building is to cut out unhealthy carbs and replace it with more fruits and vegetables, in this way you get the benefits of antioxidants.

It’s easy to lose count of carbohydrate consumption because several packaged foods, breads and cereals contain carbs that increase insulin raising blood sugar levels resulting in increased fat storage.

The more you consume carbs, the more insulin resistant your body becomes which in turn means more fat.

  • Vegetables: All veggies
  • Legumes: peas, kidney beans, lentils etc
  • Fruits: Apples, bananas, strawberries
  • Nuts: like almonds
  • Seeds: Pumpkin seeds, chia seeds
  • Whole grains: only whole grains like quinoa, oatmeal, brown rice
  • Tubers:  sweet potatoes

Healthy carbs are found in vegetables and all of the above that raise insulin gradually slowing digestion and keeping you satiated for longer periods of time.

Such foods also contain fiber essential for digestion and overall health.  Be mindful of fruits and vegetables and eat right portions as they contain more calories than veggies.

Increase carbs when performing muscle building workouts

This may sound contrary to what has been mentioned earlier but increasing healthy carbs and protein will help build muscle faster. Carbs will provide out the energy you need for working out.

Refer to various sources that show you how many carbs you need to consume for building muscle

Meal Frequency

Avoid fasting for too long. Set up a pattern by eating all of your food within a 10-12 period instead of 24 hours a day. By limiting food intake to a small window, you increase your metabolism forcing your body to burn fat even when you are not eating.

Although intermittent fasting is a rage, fasting longer than 16 hours can be detrimental to your health and create hormonal imbalance in women. Keep your fasting periods short.

 Do what suits you best be it 3 meals a day with a light snack or 6 small meals. That depends on you but always remember to include protein, low carb veggies and healthy fat.

Tips on your diet

  • If you feature over 25% body fat percentage, get it down to at least 20% before starting muscle building exercises.
  • Excess calories should be kept to a maximum limit of 5-10%: refer to a calorie calculator
  • Stop cheat meals and snacking. Resort to healthy snacking instead within calorie limits.
  • If you are up to 25% body fat, start reducing: don’t slow cut your fat but do it healthily
  • Maintain a balance between losing and gaining; you will ultimately find you are satisfied with your body after which you need to maintain it with regular exercise and saying lean and fit.

Muscle building workouts for women

The final phase is to learn what workouts will get you that figure you want. Instead of doing all and sundry, limit your workouts to meeting your exact goals of muscle building.

The following exercises are best suited for women to build muscle. You can phase out your workouts over a period of 1 to 4 weeks for best results.

Assisted workouts: Upper body workout

Incline dumbbell bench press 3 sets: 8- 12 reps


Inclined barbell bench press 3 sets: 8 -12 reps

Inclined barbell bench press

Dumbbell shoulder press 3 sets: 8-12 reps

Dumbbell shoulder press

Lying triceps extension 3 sets: 8-12 reps


Barbell or dumbbell curl 3 sets: 8-12 reps

barbell curl

Seated calf raises 2 sets: 8-10 reps


Lower body workout

Squat 3 reps: 8-12


Stiff Leg Deadlift 3 reps:  8-12

stiff leg

Leg Extension 3 reps:  8-12


Leg Curl 3 reps: 8-12


Standing Calf Raise 3 reps:  4-6



Lying Leg Raise 3 reps:  10-15


Swiss Ball Crunch 3 reps:  10-15


Back and butt workouts

Barbell deadlift 3 set: 4 - 6 reps

barbel deasdlift

Barbell squat 3 sets: 8-10 reps

barbell squat

Barbell row 3 sets: 8-10 reps

barbell row

One arm dumbbell row 3 sets: 8-10 reps


Cable crunches 1 set:8-10 reps

cable crunch

Air bicycle 1 set to failure

Air bicycle


This is a sensitive debate in the muscle building fraternity but latest studies have shown that extensive cardio isn’t conducive to a healthy workout.

Too much cardio can harm your body in more ways than one. The trick is to do enough cardio that you are comfortable with and no more.

  • Eat the right amount of calories
  • You don’t need to work out every day of the week
  • Get rest in between workouts, don’t sleep
  • Warm up properly with stretches
  • Don’t starve yourself
  • Lose weight and fat by being lean first, then start building muscle
  • Workout a good strength training plan with your trainer
  • Cut out all unhealthy food from your diet
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Get adequate sleep

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