We are starting to see a shift in the fitness industry where women are starting to embrace resistance training. For a long time, many women would stay away from weights due to the fear of getting “bulky”. Weight training was left to the men and the cardio section was where a lot of the ladies would spend their time. It is incredible to see the shift and watch women add weights into their fitness and health routine.
Gone are the days of spending hours on cardio machines and eating as little as possible. We now know that building that lean shape and ‘toned’ look many of us chase is due to building muscle. To build muscle we must regularly lift weights and ensure we are fuelling our body with enough food to grow and recover. Here are our top tips to build lean muscle and sculpt your body:
Throw Away the Scale
When you begin weight training it is important to not rely on the scale as your only measure of progress. Muscle is denser than fat but takes up much less space. Even if you are losing fat the scale may stay the same or even increase if you are gaining muscle. Although scale weight may not change, body fat percentage, measurements and clothing size will be dropping. This is why we do a Bioscan to measure body composition, take photos and do measurements every 9 weeks to track progress. So, although the scale may not be budging you will be getting leaner so don’t get caught up on the scale number!
Consume Enough Calories
Ideally, you want to be in a calorie surplus to gain muscle. This means you are consuming more than you are expending. If you are under-eating your body is focused on conserving energy rather than building muscle. This surplus doesn’t have to be massive, 5-10% above maintenance or even sitting at maintenance is a good place to start.
Protein is the building block for muscle and is vital to maintaining healthy body composition. It is essential to maintain and grow lean muscle mass which in turn elevates our metabolic rate. This means our body burns more calories at rest, therefore making it easier to maintain our weight. Protein also has the highest thermic effect in our body meaning we have to work harder to digest and break it down leading to an increase in calories burnt.
Progressive overload refers to gradually increasing the intensity or difficulty each session. This ensures your body doesn’t get used to the workload and is always progressing and building muscle. Your trainer will ensure you’re getting the progressive overload necessary each session by either:
- Increasing weight
- Adding reps
- Increasing range of motion
- Reducing rest time
- Changing tempo of the movement
When we train, we are breaking down our muscle, when we rest is when the muscle has the chance to recover and grow. When planning your week, it is crucial to allow for rest days from weight training whether this means complete rest, a low intensity walk or some stretching and mobility work.
Building lean muscle will reduce your body fat percentage, increase your metabolic rate, increase your range of motion, increase bone strength as well as reduce risk of developing osteoporosis. Not to mention you will be getting stronger every week! It's a win win. Your trainer will take the guess work out and help you develop a training plan, nutrition plan and ensure you are getting the stimulus you need in your sessions to build the body of your dreams.