8-Muscle Building and
Leaning Rules for Women
What’s up with “toning?” Toning simply means using resistance exercises (routines) to increase muscle density and lean out the body enough that the underlying muscle becomes more visible; in effect, building lean muscle burns more fat. A muscle is toned by nature, however the amount of fat on top varies, as does the amount of subcutaneous water being retained, hence the puffy and/or “bulky” look. What we really want is visible muscle definition with little fat, resulting in smaller overall arms, legs and torso.
Maximizing and preserving valuable muscle is key to fat loss since the amount of lean muscle a woman holds is the #1 most important predictor of the resting metabolic rate (RMR.)
Don’t be afraid of muscle! Simply take the right steps to maximize fat loss while building muscle and bulking becomes impossible. In order to build lean muscle while burning fat, it is important to train optimally and eat for fat loss. The difference between bulking and leaning out is your diet.
Weight training is not what makes women huge...
eating cupcakes is what makes women huge!
Here are the top muscle building tips for women.
#1: Weight train 3x/week minimum. Consistency is the key. Consistent effort by getting in the gym at least 3x/week to generate even a little bit of muscle stimulus will pay off over time.
#2: Train with heavy weights. Ladies, get over your “flabby arms” and “thunder thighs”– lifting enough to coax the muscles to respond and generate muscle fiber breakdown builds lean mass during recovery and leads to fat loss… 24/7. In other words, let your muscles do the fat burning for you.
#3: Train to failure. Use a weight that you can complete between 8-12 reps in good form will stimulate hypertrophy (size.) Your muscles should burn to the extent that you can’t complete another rep. with good form. This ignites the hormonal response necessary for hypertrophy and fat-burning.
Training to momentary muscle failure is a very intense technique that puts a high demand on your central nervous system (CNS.) Therefore, you’ll need to rotate high intensity training periods that you stop short of failure. For example: Train one week with lighter weights, stopping before failure, then go back to training to failure 4-8 more weeks.
Each individual is different, so you may have to make adjustments according to how your body responds. Some women can train longer at high intensity and some can’t. Just listen to your body, if your joints ache, you feel lethargic and tired, you may be overtraining and need to rest. It is also important that you refuel your body with clean protein, complex carbs, a moderate amount of starchy carbs and essential fats (see below.)
You break down your muscle fibers and deplete your energy stores during your workouts. Your muscles grow and become stronger during recovery.
#4: Eat protein pre-workout. Here’s where the fat-burning side of the equation comes in…eating 20-30 grams of whey protein 20-30 minutes before a workout, along with ~ 5g of branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) encourages the body to pull from fat stores to power the workout and preserves muscle being used for energy. Limit the carbs pre-workout since insulin’s presence in the blood effectively shuts down lipolysis (burning stored fat).
#5: Eat protein (and a little carb) post-weight training workout. In order to capitalize on your tough weight workout, give your body the amino acids (protein) it needs to repair muscle. You will also need some carbs in order to release insulin (the muscle-building pathway depends on it), however, too much carb will also store fat. Find your unique Carb Tipping Point to know how many grams you should be getting. I recommend starting with 20-30g protein and 20-30 grams carbohydrates (depending on your size) post-weights–good choices include bananas, honey, grape juice and white potatoes.
#6: Eat protein (and a little healthy fat) post-cardio workout. After a cardio-only workout, the muscles don’t require the same insulin stimulus as after a weight workout. In fact, post-cardio is one of the best opportunities to burn fat. Eating a bunch of carbs after a cardio-only workout may blunt the fat-burning effect of the workout so stick with veggies (High Fiber Complex Carbs.,) lean proteins and even essential fats.
Here’s a sample of an excellent post-cardio shake:
In a blender or Vitamix, blend:
20-30 grams egg white protein powder
8 oz unsweetened Cashew or Almond milk.
2 tbsp natural peanut butter
5 grams of L-glutamine
Liquid Stevia to desired sweetness (it comes in flavors too)
1 cup ice
#7: Eat all of your starchy carbs for the day in your post-workout meal, and the next 2 small meals. For example, if you weight-train at 6 am, you eat carbs with a post-workout meal at 7 am, 10 am and 1 pm. If you train at 7 pm, you eat starchy carbs at 8 pm, 6 am and 9 am the next day, etc.
Your metabolism is elevated for at least the first few hours after your workout is over (maybe longer) and so the best time to capitalize on muscle building and utilize an elevated metabolism and avoid fat storage is in the hours following your workout. Starchy carbs include foods like potatoes, white and brown rice, oatmeal, corn, squash, zucchini, pumpkin, whole grains, quinoa, etc. Consume one cupped palm of starchy carbs. each of the meals to reload your energy stores. At all other meals (2-3), just eat one palm of lean protein and one fist of fibrous veggies (greens, etc).
#8: Sleep a minimum 8 hours each night. Getting enough solid sleep is one of the hardest things for most of us to do. Unfortunately, it is a key part of the muscle-building process. Adequate rest and sleep are imperative in the quest for results. Sleep is one of the key times in terms of growth hormone release, and is also one of the best times for fat burning. However, sleeping only a few hours and/or eating a very high carb meal right before bed means that most of your sleep is spent digesting food and not even getting into the fat burning process yet. Pair adequate rest with optimal nutrition for best results!