You're not alone. Many women come to me and ask me how to see muscle growth, and I'll be honest -- it's really hard to do.
My journey has gone on for nine years and counting.
Muscle growth not only takes time, it also takes several elements that are not easy to put together to actually see true results.
This is why I wanted to give you a complete science-based recipe to grow muscle consistently and over time.
Throughout this ten minute read, you'll learn what is necessary to see muscle growth, and to do it in a healthy way without sacrificing your long-term health. You'll learn that some simple tips and tools are all that are needed to see the growth in all the areas you have been hoping for.
Your shoulders that you want to see growth in.
As we all know, good things take time. Nothing happens overnight. So take some time to read over these and you'll be well on your way to visible and sustainable muscle growth.
After about an hour of working out your body begins to produce the stress hormone called cortisol. Cortisol and testosterone are negatively correlated, or in other words as one increases the other decreases. Over training is a real thing and doesn’t result in gains.
If you want to see consistent growth, take time to relax. Some like to do breathing exercises like Tony Robbins famous breathing exercises. Others like to meditate, which has a ton of health benefits and is extremely good for your overall well-being.
Another way to reduce stress is to make sure to audit the people around you in your life. Are they helping you grow as a person or are they hindering your growth and stressing you out. If there are people in your life that cause a lot of drama, you may find yourself more stressed than you need to be. Make sure you stay away from drama-filled friends.
You can also reduce stress by sleeping 7-9 hours a night. Multiple studies show that the proper amount of sleep vastly helps you reduce stress by lowering your cortisol level at night while your body releases melatonin.
The release of natural melatonin is proven to be one of the best ways your body can recover from muscle breakdown from workouts.
When you sleep the right amount of time, and sleep during the magic hours (10 pm to 2 am) your body releases the highest amount of natural melatonin, assisting your sleep cycle and causing your cortisol levels to be regulated.
Don't work out more than one hour at one time (assuming your workouts are intense). When you work out longer than an hour at a time on a consistent, you will increase your cortisol levels which will not only derail your hormones, but greatly reduce your body's ability for muscle growth.
Some people miss one of the most important words in the above sentence.
Make sure that when you are trying to gain muscle, you are not going overboard on the protein. If you are following a workout program and regularly doing resistance training, you'll want to consume about .8-1.2 grams of protein per lean pound of body mass.
Whenever I have a client who is looking to both lose weight and gain muscle, I always have them begin with compound movements that involve multiple joints.
Some of my favorite client transformation stories begin with me prescribing them a multi-joint workout that helped melt the fat off their bodies. Need a workout to help with this, check this one out.
Getting back to science, your body is fueled by three things: carbohydrates, protein, and fat.
Each of those macronutrients serve different purposes. Some enjoy the ketogenic diet which eliminates almost all carbs. Even though some like to follow this, most can easily see incredible muscle growth through following a balanced macro-specific diet.
To optimize your workout, it's best to have simple carbs before your workout and then a carb like white rice and protein after your workout (or you can do a protein shake too).
Whatever you do, avoid having any type of fat right after your workout. Your body will absorb that fat like a sponge. But it takes more than just a big squeeze to get rid of it.
Fuel your body with the proper macronutrients after your workout, and try to consume healthy carbs and protein within 30-45 minutes after you finish your workout.
Yes, you heard me.
Try to consume actual food before you have supplements.
If you are looking for muscle growth, you want to make sure to not pump your body with a bunch of synthetic supplements.
Nothing beats real food. I love the quote that Shawn Stephenson said, "you are what you eat, ate."
This is also relevant concerning supplements. Your supplements ate a combination of processed ingredients that are the furthest thing away from natural. Try to avoid when you can stand to.
There are a few types of muscle fibers in your body, but the ones that you want to focus on for muscle growth are your type I and type II muscle fibers. These are usually classified as "slow-twitch" and "fast-twitch" muscle fibers.
If you want a full explanation of the in-depth understanding of the two fibers, just check out this explanation here.
Type I fibers, or slow twitch fibers are essentially your muscles that help maintain your posture, and have a low activation threshold. You would use these fibers when doing things like planks, or circuit training. You can activate these muscle fibers which will use aerobic metabolism to fuel your activity. If you want to read about the difference between aerobic and anaerobic metabolism, click here.
Type II muscle fibers, or fast twitch fibers are the muscles that take more force to be activated, but once they do, they use up a ton of energy. Weight training activated type II muscle fibers very frequently, and heavy weight will stimulate these muscle fibers more, helping you see muscle growth.
When activating these specific muscle fibers, you also burn fat faster and more efficiently, always a plus!
Whenever you are able, mixing up your weight training with more "complicated" techniques will help you see a steady amount of muscle growth and increase in your effectiveness of your training.
So what do these terms mean?
A 2009 study by Marc Roig, Ph.D., head of the Muscle Biophysics Laboratory at the University of British Columbia cites:
"Focused negative exercise, the kind that occurs when you first do the slow lowering of a Push-Up, can cause microscopic tears, which ignite the protein-synthesis process. Negative training was significantly more effective in increasing muscular size and strength than positive-style training."
If you want to follow some recommended negative training workouts, you can find some great examples here.
For forced reps, you will need a workout partner or a willing volunteer to accomplish it properly. You will do your movement to failure, and then you will force as many reps as possible with some help as many times as you can to absolute failure. Forced reps are one of the best ways to exhaust your muscles, tears in your type II muscle fibers, and leading to increase in muscle growth.
Static holds are pretty self-explanatory.
These are sometimes called time under tension. An example of a static hold is when you do a squat and hold your squat for 3 seconds at the lowest point. Anyone who tries this for the first time will tell you that they feel the burn. Static holds are extremely beneficial and helpful for muscle growth.
Did you know that you are 83% more likely to reach your goal if you have an accountability partner that you've told your goal to?
Well..I actually made up that statistic..but I'm pretty positive your chance of success goes waaaaay up when you have a workout partner.
Throughout my last few competitions, my workout partners have not only been motivation for me when I don't feel like it, they have also been great friends for me that I can vent to when I am working through problems, or even just chat with at the gym.
My trusty workout partner @sydneyharveyy
Let's be honest, going to the gym can be a little lonely and can feel like you're on an island sometimes.
But did you know the most important part? When you workout with a partner, they will push you to lift more.
Many times, you will find yourself competing with them, which is extremely helpful and valuable for you to push yourself to lift heavier, and challenge yourself to also do forced reps (which are only possible with a workout partner -- or you can recruit the dude staring at you in the corner :eyes:)
There is a belief that you should consume protein within 30 minutes of your workout or you will lose the GAINS. This is refuted in some places, and backed up in other places.
Either way, the fact of the matter is, you should definitely consume protein after your workout because you need protein and carbs to replenish your depleted muscles. If you want to gain muscle while also leaning out a bit, then you will want to make sure not to have fat after your workout, that's a big NO NO.
"Rest?? No way! There's too much gainz to be had!!"
Let's be real here, even Arnold Schwarzenegger advises you to take a rest day. So you probably should listen to the great one.
Rest days give you the ability to let your muscles recover so your body is repaired and ready for more micro tears to your muscle. That's what is happening, after all. Your muscles need their rest. What do you do when you get a papercut, you rest your finger! That doesn't really make sense, but you get it.
Let your muscles rest, you do not want to get burnt out.
You may think to yourself that a rest day is all that you need, but if you've been training for a while, it's necessary that you take a week off at times. I know it may seem like overkill, but you should definitely take time to rest and that means resting your muscles. This will help your long-term goal of muscle growth in the long run.
Muscle building takes a lot of time..especially for women. You have to ask yourself what your commitment-level is to muscle growth.
Your body type does play a factor in your ability to grow muscle and how fast/slow you do see results, but no matter what you will normally have to take your time building.
I have spent 8 years in the gym (not straight..lol) and I have dedicated hours upon hours in the gym.
For most people, 60-90 minutes is an optimal amount of time actively training at the gym (this does not include selfie times).
I would suggest the higher amount of that range if you want to see muscle growth in an accelerated way.
And no, building muscle won't make you look bulky. It will make you look sexy though.
As you consistently add weight to your routine [see why I haven't changed my workout routine in 8 years] you will find that you can help increase your results through progressive overload (adding more weight to your lifts). Doing this strategically will help you see results, and help you understand if you are seeing progress or not.
If you follow just a few of these scientific-backed techniques, you will find yourself seeing muscle growth over time.
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