Gain Healthy Muscle Mass
There’s no shortage of advice out there for male bodybuilders looking to get to the top of their game. But did you know that women’s bodies function differently from men’s when it comes to making the most out of your exercise routine?
How to gain healthy muscle mass
To ensure that you not only maximize your muscular growth each workout but that you also remain healthy and happy, you’ll need to take a few things into consideration.
Protein Intake Is Key
Effective bodybuilding comes down to proper nutrition.
Skeletal muscle protein — the kind of matter we build while bodybuilding — is in a constant state of turnover. Your body breaks down and rebuilds this muscle tissue, again and again, requiring a constant supply of energy.
Many balk at the idea of a massive increase in their daily diet, but it’s the only way to get the most out of your workout.
As most people know, the key dietary area for bodybuilding is protein. The amino acids in protein are essential for creating muscle, but protein has a number of other characteristics that are ideal for bodybuilders.
Women who are working on their bodybuilding should achieve a daily intake of 1.6 to 1.7 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. Fortunately, there’s no shortage of good sources for dietary protein. Some options include:
TIP: Ideal protein intake hovers around 25 grams of complete protein in each meal.
Timing your protein intake correctly is also worth considering.
Most of your body’s action goes on before and after the actual exercise period. Consume protein an hour before and an hour after each workout, so your body has something to work with and can replenish the muscles you use.
Things like the fabled “Anabolic Window” are much less important than maintaining your daily dietary requirements.
Don’t Try to Exclude Carbs from Your Diet
While your body is capable of getting by without any carbohydrates, it doesn’t prefer it.
The ketogenic diet has recently been touted as a solution for excess weight loss, and some in the bodybuilding and sports world consider it a great complementary diet to exercise routines.
The ketogenic diet was initially developed as a way for epileptics to reduce seizures, which was discovered to be extremely effective at treating the condition in some cases.
However, this is an approach that should be considered only when advised by a doctor. Ketosis drastically changes the way that the metabolism functions and is your body’s way of reacting to extreme starvation.
It is a last-ditch attempt by your system to keep itself alive — not a particularly sensible way to go about losing weight. A controlled approach to carbohydrate intake may be worthwhile, but it is not a good idea to cut carbohydrates out completely.
Go for the Bigger Weights
When it comes to the exercise itself, pushing yourself is key to hitting your desired results. Heavy resistance training is an effective way of breaking down your muscle tissue and rebuilding it with bigger, stronger tissue.
Testosterone is crucial to building muscles, so women need to make up for it in other areas — including pushing themselves with bigger weights.
With a regular turnover of muscle tissue from proper protein intake, your body uses the available amino acids to keep pushing.
TIP: If you aren’t feeling fatigued by your tenth rep, consider upping your weight.
Don’t Become Obsessively Image Conscious
Maximizing your metabolism and the chemistry behind bodybuilding is just as important as keeping your mind and outlook healthy. It’s easy to become obsessive about progress, and many of the shortcuts to a better-looking body can have serious mental and physical repercussions.
The quest for better muscles can lead people towards extremely restrictive diets, such as the keto diet.
Cycles of binging and starving for competitions throw your body’s equilibrium out of control, with potentially damaging short and long-term effects. No part of the metabolism is suited to swinging between wild extremes.
One condition — Female Athlete Triad — refers to the various side effects seen in unhealthy female bodybuilding practices. These effects can include eating disorders, brittle bones, and a lack of a menstrual cycle. Dangerous diet restrictions interfere with hormone balance, which can lead to temporary menopause — effects identical to those found in victims of starvation.
After a return to normal dietary intake, swift weight gain, the result of the body’s return to normalcy, can lead to depression and the emergence of eating disorders.
These problems are easily compounded with steroid use.
With a number of serious side effects, the potential dangers of steroid use are no secret. But, with the promise of gains and the warped body image issues found in such an image-conscious sport, it’s no surprise that steroids are an ever-present aspect of the scene.
Balance and Planning Are the Keys to Success
There are many potential pitfalls in the search for a successful diet and lifestyle for maximum bodybuilding results.
The proliferation of “wonder diets” on the internet, driven exclusively by quick profit, has led to a hazardous culture. Side effects are often ignored or disbelieved in light of the sea of content promising quick results.
The reality is that science will always reign supreme.
Plans like the keto diet have been regularly exposed as extremely dangerous and not something to undertake unless advised by a professional. Similarly, aiming for high amounts of protein in your diet doesn’t mean an exclusively protein-filled diet is healthy.
Your body’s metabolism is adaptable but has its limits — your most successful plan will suit the activity while not at the cost of your physical health.
And, as far as your mental health goes, don’t lose sight of reality.
It’s all too easy to fall into an obsessive mindset, chasing a body rather than a lifestyle.
By setting realistic goals for yourself and maintaining a balance, you can get the most out of your bodybuilding routine.
- How to Build Muscle for Women - June 15, 2018
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