Muscle Building for Women 2021 [Complete Guide with Workouts & Nutrition]

Jeff Baldelli
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Nutrition For Muscle Building For Women

When building muscle for women, timing the macronutrients correctly is key. The traditional bodybuilding method of eating five to seven protein, three to seven carb, and one to two fat servings per day is a suitable method for muscle gain.

Although not too much different from the dietary needs of men, women need to account for differences in their bodies, which will determine the right amount of calories and nutrients they should consume per day. But before looking at the actual numbers, an individual needs to consider his or her overall goals when determining the desired macronutrient ratio.

As you build muscle for women, you need to consider what your preferred body composition is. Do you aim to get lean and achieve a physique that is free of body fat? If so, you would want to consider following a lower-fat diet but make sure you are still following a high-protein diet of one to two servings of protein for every meal. With a higher carbohydrate and fat intake, you will be able to achieve this figure more easily.

Do you want to build lean muscle mass without worrying about fat storage? Then, you will want to eat foods that mainly contain complex carbohydrates, a lesser serving of fat, and the appropriate amounts of protein. This will provide you with the energy needed to perform such demanding workouts while the complex carbs will store well in the body for energy use during the workout.

Building Muscle Requires Food and Calories

When you focus on building lean muscle, you can usually expect to build a larger overall body, along with a smaller waistline. This happens because as you increase the size of your muscles, your body can burn more calories.

For example, let’s say that Jane weighs 150 pounds and is 5 foot 6 inches. She wants to build muscle and drop some pounds, so she chooses to spend her week adding 1 pound of lean muscle per week.

If Jane does 4 sets of 14 repetitions for each exercise on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and then spends the remainder of the week lifting 1 less repetition per set, she will be maintaining her muscle gains.

Because lifting heavier weights helps to increase your lean muscle mass, adding one pound of lean muscle per week is a good way to build muscle effectively.

If Jane can’t get the volume of training needed to maintain her muscle gains, then she will lose strength and muscle. If she is able to increase her volume, however, she will then be in a position to increase the weight she lifts.

This is a simple example, but in real life it could be much more difficult to increase your muscle mass if you are trying to build a leaner body. This is because you have to increase the calories that you eat.

Macros

Building muscle is a little more complicated than counting calories in and out. During weight training when your muscles contract they are using protein and glycogen. This protein can be broken down into the individual amino acids that your muscles are made of.

The amino acids are then used to build new muscle protein. This amino acid building process can be aided by consuming the right amount of protein, carbs, and fats.

If you are not consuming enough of any of these nutrients then your body will break down existing tissue to use for energy. This is why it is very important to pay attention to how much of each nutrient you are consuming in a day.

Protein Intake and Muscle Growth

Protein is the first nutrient you need to consider as the amino acids are used to build muscle protein. The amino acids are responsible for protein synthesis and muscle growth.

Consuming enough protein to build muscle is key to getting the results from your workouts and stimulating muscle growth. Protein is a vital part of the muscle building process and directly affects your muscles' ability to repair and break down.

As you can see in the chart above, a general recommendation is to consume 1.4 to 1.7 grams of protein per pound of body weight. The problem with such a broad nutritional recommendation is that it's not specific to your goals.

If your goal is to build muscle mass, then you have to consider your body weight.

Dietary Fats

Fatty Fats and Oils

Let's set the record straight: a few good fats are good, but a bunch of bad fats are just as bad for you as all that highly processed sugar and white flour!

The fats that you want to avoid most are primarily those in meat, dairy foods and vegetable oils.

Don't be afraid to dig a little deeper; it certainly is knowledge worth knowing. Here's some valuable info about fatty foods in the Western diet.

Theatrics: Fat Facts

The Western diet consists of more than 30% of calories from fat. Fat provides more than twice as many calories per gram as protein or carbohydrate.

An average hamburger patty can contain up to 50% of calories from fat. Americans have a growing love affair with fast food, and fat seems to be the main attraction.

Marriage: Linoleic Acid (EOFAT)

The monounsaturated fatty acid linoleic acid is the limiting nutrient in chemically-defined, polyunsaturated oils.

Arachidonic acid and linoleic acid are always found in relatively similar amounts in animal fat. This is why we see unhealthy levels of arachidonic acid in cheap vegetable oils.

Exercise To Build Muscle

If your main goal is to build muscle for women, then resistance training is your best bet.

There are three primary kinds of resistance training that you can do:

Weight training exercises that use hand weights such as dumbbells. These are called free weights. Resistance training exercises with weight machines, such as free weight machines. Resistance training exercises that work against resistance using your body, for example, running.

You can combine any of these resistance training exercises to make up an effective workout routine, adding variety if you feel that you’re getting bored with any particular exercise.

Ideally, a good resistance training routine will consist of both compound and isolation exercises.

Compound exercises are the ones that use more than one muscle group to work out a single body part. For example, while biceps curls work out the biceps, they also require contraction from the triceps, forearms, and shoulders. The advantage of compound exercises is that it leads to more muscle building in fewer sets.

On the other hand, isolation exercises isolate a specific muscle group, and hence need more sets and repetitions to build muscle. For example, if your goal is to strengthen your buttocks, you could do squats. This wouldn’t require much effort from the other muscles, and will make them stronger in the end.

Progressive Overload

A fairly simple concept, progressive overload aims at causing your body to adapt to the demand of a training routine by either getting stronger or faster. This leads to either bigger muscles or more mileage on your runs.

The idea is that if you keep increasing the demand on your body, it will produce a higher output without any extra effort. Instead of lifting the same dumbbells over and over, for example, you could switch to heavier ones or move your workout to a machine that has a higher weight capacity, such as the smith machine.

You may have heard of the “10% rule of progressive overload,” which suggests that you aim to lift 10% more weight every time you perform a particular exercise. In order to do that, you’ll need to keep a record of the weights you’re lifting and the repetitions you’re performing with them. Also, be sure to warm up enough before trying new lifts.

Great for Injury Recovery

One of the most common injuries that you can acquire while performing a training routine is muscle soreness.

This happens because after stretching the muscles you’re using in your workout, the muscle fibers are exposed to new loads. The muscle fibers then tear, or they undergo micro-tears, which promote the laying down of new muscle fibers for future workouts.

Exercise Selection

Now that you know you can benefit from interval training, how do you put it all together? What exercises should you be performing?

The exercises you choose for your workout routines will vary depending on your fitness goals.

Take, for example, Tim, Sarah, and Zoe (names were made up). Tim is a powerlifter. Sarah is a short distance runner. Zoe is a boxer. While the three of them may share some commonalities in their training routines, there are differences as well.

First, Tim needs to focus on strength above all else, because his bulking period will be focused almost entirely on training his muscles. Sarah is concerned primarily with speed and endurance. She needs to improve the efficiency of her muscles and her cardiovascular system. Zoe, on the other hand, needs to train both her power and her muscles. She also needs to train her cardiovascular system and her endurance, but to different degrees.

Because Tim is training for strength, he won’t focus on speed or endurance as much, Tim won’t need to build up his cardiovascular system, and, since he doesn’t need to move his muscles as rapidly, he doesn’t need to train them as much.

Here are several common exercise routines:

Strength training:

Exercise Frequency

Frequency is how often you exercise a certain body part in a week and has been shown to increase muscle mass and strength. Frequency is a schedule in which you perform exercises more than once per week on a periodized fashion. Depending on your goals, you may be training for strength, endurance, or hypertrophy. For mass, you want to do some variation of 3-4 days per week.

You don’t necessarily have to train every muscle group every week in order to build mass.

Muscle cells no longer grow when you rest. They grow when you impose a sufficient stimulus on them. This means that it does not matter how often you train a certain muscle group, but rather how much of a significant load you can impose upon it, no matter how it’s delivered. So, doing 5 sets of bench press for triceps won’t help you build triceps (of course, it might, but it’s very unlikely). Keeping the movement constant while varying the load is the only way to build muscle, and this means that hypertrophy training is to be done using a periodized fashion as stated above.

Best Muscle Building Supplements For Women

Being a woman over 40 doesn't mean being frail and weak, since it only means you are on the older side of the spectrum. This does not mean you cannot be strong and healthy as a result of muscle building. Inclusion of decent supplements into your diet can greatly speed up the muscle building process while reversing any losses incurred during the aging process.

As we age, we lose quite a bit of muscle growth, and this is very much evident in women post the age of 40. This is due to the fact that our hormonal levels fall rapidly whenever we are close to hitting 40, affecting our ability to build and repair muscle mass. This can be counteracted by taking in certain muscle building supplements.

One incredible supplement which can help you build strength and muscle is Men's Health Muscle-Building Blend. It contains all-natural muscle-building ingredients such as boldo extract, green tea, Coleus forskolei and L-arginine, each of which contributes to faster recovery and muscle growth.

In this guide, you will get to see which specific muscle building supplements for women over 40 stand out from the rest. Let’s begin.

How to Determine the Best Muscle Building Supplements for Women Over 40?

Fish Oil

Vitamin D, omega-3s, and protein are all known to build and repair muscle fibers and cells. They promote a plethora of muscle-building benefits, including muscle development, energy levels, and cognitive function.

Make sure you are on a high-protein diet.

Fish oil is great for both your physical and mental health. This is likely because it is an excellent source of omega-3s.

The body can’t make omega-3s, so you have to eat them each day. The omega-3s found in fish are not only important for building muscle, but for many bodily functions, including protecting the body from illness.

Some of the best omega-3s you can get to supplement your diet with are found in fish oil.

Try to include fish oil in your diet by purchasing high-quality supplements, whether in liquid or capsule form. Be sure to check the label to see what kinds of fish oil are used as well as the EPA and DHA content.

Fish oil could be considered as a controversial supplement. For one, fish oil is known to be full of fat, which for many years has been linked to clogging arteries and contributing to heart disease, even though it’s known that most of this fear is overblown.

Protein Powder

Protein powder is one of the best supplements for women who exercise and want to build muscle. It’s one of our favorite protein powder products on the market.

The best protein powder is whey protein because it has a high biological value, individual proteins being easily absorbed, and it’s consistently high-quality. Additionally, whey is an intensely studied protein and more and more studies confirm its effectiveness in increasing lean muscle mass.

It has also shown to be effective in promoting lean muscle recovery and improving weight loss. Whey protein also has a near perfect score of 1.00 for the Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score, meaning it’s virtually 100% absorbed by the body.

Many women are afraid to build muscle because they think they will look big and bulky like a man. While it’s true that women do tend to have less testosterone than men, this doesn’t mean the actual amount of muscle growth you get is inhibited. Women just need to follow the right workout plan to build the right amount of muscle mass.

The next thing women need to know is that you will not look like Arnold Schwarzenegger overnight. While whey protein has been scientifically proven to increase muscle mass, it takes consistent and dedicated training, just like body-weight exercises, yoga, and plyometrics, to see results.

Multi-Vitamin

Finally, in addition to the new regimen, I’m also taking a multi-vitamin every day.

I wanted to let you know that I started using a multi-vitamin after I woke up sore one morning.

I suffered from inflammation in my knee, and I decided this was a sign that I needed to start taking nutritional supplements.

I diligently read the ingredient labels on some of the most popular over-the-counter multi-vitamins to look for ones that met my standards.

Surprisingly, most of them had at least one of the following ingredients:

  • Vitamin B6
  • Vitamin B9 (Folic Acid)
  • Vitamin B12
  • Vitamin B3 (Niacin)
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin B5
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin A

You can get all of these nutrients through a healthy diet. However, I know because I’ve built a website and app about how to learn which nutritional supplements are effective, many of you are simply going to supplement rather than eat healthier.

I’ll leave it up to you whether you want to take a multivitamin with these nutrients or just eat healthier and eliminate the need for these supplements.

Creatine

Now that you know what it’s about, you may be wondering if creatine is for you.

The answer is both yes and no.

When you take creatine, it is transported to your muscle cells and turned into creatine phosphate, a compound you use during maximal bursts of exercise. And it will do this whether you’re a man or a woman.

Women respond to creatine just as positively as their male counterparts in terms of strength and muscle gains. However, you still need to be cautious and act responsibly when taking any supplement.

First, some types of exercise and body building supplements such as steroids have been shown to cause harm to women during pregnancy, so it's best to avoid them when you're expecting.

Second, you need to ensure that you're not ingesting too much creatine as the risks may include dehydration, stomach cramps, muscle pains, dizziness, heart palpitations, and a rise in blood pressure.

If you can stick to the right dosage, however, then creatine can help you build muscle, get stronger, recover better, and become a more efficient runner.

Protein Powder

You probably know what protein powder is, but you may not know its potential.

Protein powder is simply a supplemental way to put protein into your diet. Just take in the protein and you’re done.

Pre-Workout

Supplements – Should You Take Them?

Many people, especially women, may be reluctant to use supplements. This is understandable as it can be difficult to ensure the safety and authenticity of products.

If you plan on using supplements to achieve your fitness goals, however, you don’t have to worry about that. Below, you’ll discover everything that you need to know about pre-workout supplements.

What Is a Pre-Workout Supplement?

Several supplements are designed for use before a workout, hence the name “pre-workout supplements.” To keep this simple, we’ll call them supplements for the sake of consistency.

A pre-workout supplement is, as the name suggests, a supplement consumed before a workout to boost performance and give you the energy to get through a workout.

There are many different kinds of pre-workout supplements that come in various forms: capsules, powders, and sticky liquids.

You can either buy a pre-formulated supplement that is meant to be consumed before a workout, or you can mix your own by combining a number of other supplements that are known for boosting performance, such as creatine, beta-alanine, caffeine, and arginine.

Conclusion

Before you think about starting a workout or diet plan, take some time to analyze your biggest health concerns. By doing this, you can figure out exactly what you need to work on. Skipping this step is one of the biggest mistakes that people make when getting into new workouts. Instead of fixing the root of the problem, they want to only fix one symptom at a time.

In a lot of cases, this new symptom may not be what you’re actually working out your body for. Instead of walking out of the gym every day feeling exhausted, sore, and achy, you should feel happy, energized, and good about yourself.

At the same time, be sure to do your research. A lot of what you read on the Internet is opinion. While there’s nothing wrong with having an opinion, it’s best to back it up with facts and anecdotes from real life experiences.

Find out what other people are saying that they think and then decide for yourself.

In the cases where information is conflicting, you can take the advice for those who have had the best experiences with it. Of course, we’re the most biased option available.

That’s because, as your friend, it’s our mission to help you stay happy and healthy.