Without a doubt, female gym-goers have rocked pop culture and destroyed numerous stigmas about girls who lift in the past year, but too many of us still remain in the dark about how to build muscle and maintain a lean physique.
Here are six of the primo rules to doing just that. No filler, just honest advice from female fitness powerhouse Pauline Nordin:
1. Beginners should NOT attempt a body-part split routine
Establish a solid foundation in your weight training before moving on to sessions that require multiple exercises to fatigue one muscle group.
2. Fuel your body for muscle growth
You can’t expect to gain muscle and lose fat at the same time; it just isn’t physically possible. Eat to grow your muscles… and see rule #5 below.
3. Do not focus on problem areas
Not only will this cause you to fixate on a negative, which is mentally draining and encourages negative inner dialogue, it’s more likely that you will cause overuse injury to your “problem” area if you overtrain it. In the end, you’ll have busted your ass—literally?—for very little improvement.
4. Put in the time—period.
Adding muscle to your frame is an exercise in commitment. You can’t skip too many days or you won’t get what you’re after. In this endeavor, it’s better to just punch the clock regularly, whether your workout bores you or it’s the most exciting thing you’ve ever done.
5. Don’t be afraid of [muscle] weight gain
As mentioned in #2, building muscle requires calories, which means you have to eat more. The foods you consume should be high-quality proteins, clean carbohydrates and filling fats, but all the same, you can’t operate at a caloric deficit and expect your body to build muscle tissue out of thin air. Calm down if the scale goes up at first; you can always shed fat after you build.
6. Vary your training after you see results
This journey is a lifelong one. Even after you start to see the physique of your dreams emerge, it requires dedication to a healthy lifestyle (in some form) to maintain. Typically, you’ll want to keep your workouts varied to keep yourself interested, which is only more incentive to keep training.