The Secret to Building Muscle for Women
I love seeing women training at the gym – it takes some guts to walk to the weights section and it can be really intimidating if you’re new to working out in a gym. While I encourage women to lift weights and strength train, it’s going to take more than going to the gym and hopping from machine to machine doing countless reps if you’re trying to truly change your physique and build some muscle. Building muscle and changing our overall body composition takes the right stimulus as well as the right nutrition plan for you and your goals.
So what’s wrong with doing some bicep curls here, and some lunges there? Why couldn’t you just follow these free workout videos online that everyone seems to be sharing and posting about? Well, you can I suppose… And if you’re new to lifting, you may still see some progress. But after a while, your muscles will adapt. Anyone who has been training longer than 6 months has likely experienced hitting a plateau in their fitness journey. All of a sudden those random, swipe videos you were following are no longer giving you the results they did in the beginning. This is an example of muscle adaptation.
What is Muscle Adaptation?
Our muscles change and grow when they are placed under stress (load). Over time, our muscles can adapt to the stress and loads placed on them if they become “accustomed” to the stress/load placed on them. Having a very strategic and systemized training program in place helps you continue to progress with your workouts so you can prevent your muscles from adapting to your workouts. As you continue to strategically progress in your training (by increasing weight, reps, etc.) , your muscles grow in size and strength – progressing slowly and safely. To prevent a plateau in your lifting, it’s important to have a structured progression throughout your training program. Hitting training plateaus causes your progress to stall just like a car that has run out of gas. However, adaptation doesn’t have to become a plateau. Especially if you’re a part of my Forever Fit coaching program!
Preventing Plateaus & How to Continue Making Progress in the Gym
So how can we prevent a lifting plateaus and continue to make progress in the gym? There’s actually several answers to this, some of those answers fall outside of what you do in the gym. Think about what you’re doing and more importantly, eating, outside of the gym. Are you taking an appropriate amount of rest days? How much cardio are you doing? Here are some tips to ensure you continue to make some serious gains!
Tip 1: Change the way you exercise. Change HOW you’re working those muscles. For example, if you’ve been doing a lot of your exercises with dumbbells because you’re scared to go to the “guys section” of the gym and start using a barbell and plates, get outside of that comfort zone! Dumbbells and barbells all provide ways to work muscles in isolation or through compound movements, but the stress they put on the body is different.
Tip 2: Is your weekly split not working for you anymore? Change the days of the week you’re hitting certain body parts. Try combining 1 or 2 different muscle groups together. If you’re used to training back and biceps, try training biceps and chest together.
Tip 3: Making sure your nutrition stays on point – this is a crucial component to continued progress.
How to Progress in Your Weight Training –> PROGRESSIVE OVERLOAD
1. Increase/Decrease sets: You can increase sets alone keeping the same weight and reps, or you can even decrease sets and increase the weight and reps.
2. Changing up your rep range. There’s no one perfect number of reps and sets to build muscle. However, if you are looking to gain muscle strength, you want to stay in the 1-6 rep range. If your goal is to increase muscle growth, 8-15 reps you want to stay in the 8-18 rep range. If you are looking to improve muscular performance/endurance, you would want to stay in the 18-20 rep range.
3. Increase your weight. Make sure to listen to your body with this. Never sacrifice form for the sake of lifting a heavier weight!
4. Decrease your rest periods. Take note of your rest periods in between each set of exercises. Even if you can cut down on your rest times by 10 seconds. that’s still a form of progression!
5. Change up your exercises only every 4-6 weeks. Switching up your exercise selection every month or so is a great way to keep your body guessing and ensures you don’t get bored with your workouts. This time frame also allows you an appropriate amount of time to do more load over time week to week (progressive overload).
Despite how frustrating plateaus can be, it’s best not to get stuck in one in the first place. My 12 week Forever Fit Formula coaching program is specifically designed so that you are always adapting and progressing. No matter if your goal is fat loss or building some big, beautiful muscle, I coach you through everything you need to reach your fitness goals. For more information on my coaching program, click here! Make sure you’re following me on social media!