Train like a woman, look like a badass
A lot of us females want to get into shape, but also want some muscles that pop. In order to get those muscles you need to follow a few steps. These steps can be really challenging for someone like me; who was born petite.
Strong and thick is the new skinny. It wasn’t until I trained for my first bikini competition that I finally understood health, nutrition, and the gym. Let me tell you, there is SO much to learn; but it’s so interesting and actually really fascinating on what your body can all do! It’s honestly why I preach a lot about not doing the “quick fixes’ in order to see progress. Your body is crazy in such a neat way! You can push your limits further and further each and every week. Only YOU have the ability to change it; if you really want.
Let’s chat about gaining muscle, building up your strength and little tips that will help you achieve a fuller look for those petite females like myself!
1. You Have To Eat The Part
In order to get fuller and gain muscle mass you NEED to eat a ton of food! I demand you to throw out those thoughts and comments like “OMG, that’s so many calories”, “I’m going to get fat.” Just stop… Food is so good for our body, whether or not we want to gain some muscle. You should always eat more than 1200 calories, your body needs fuel and nutrients.
When you’re first starting out; I suggest you figure out how many calories you should be eating. Check out my “Understanding Macros” post to use my calculator to see how many calories you should be roughly eating for your goals. Doing that will also show you how much protein, carbs and fats you should be consuming as well. Next step, download an app called “My Fitness Pal.” It’s an amazing app that helps you with your goals. You plug in your calories and numbers and it helps you track the food you eat throughout the day. It may be challenging at first, but trust me you’ll get the hang of it. It’s a good idea to purchase a scale to help you weigh your food like oats, chicken, steak, rice etc. Basically everything. You can be more loose with condiments, but be mindful of how much you’re consuming because it does add up too!
I was eating around 2600 calories! So please don’t be scared to eat because it all depends on what foods you put into YOUR body! Which leads us to our next tip.
2. Eat Nutrient Dense Food
Nutrient dense foods contain vitamins, minerals, complex carbs, lean protein, and your healthy fats!
Eating a lot of food, you’ll have to make it as healthy as you can. These types of foods will help you grow, and in order to grow your body, you need all of these things, especially a certain amount of protein. You can easily reach your calorie goal for the day by eating like crap; however the goal is to try not to gain extra fat.
Eat more whole eggs, egg whites, chicken breast, cottage cheese, flank steak, extra lean ground beef and all your green veggies! Egg whites are great to get in extra protein, chicken breast has 0 fat and for a 4oz chicken breast you will get 34.6g of protein! I do love steak and flank basically has 0 fat! It’s all meat with 0 gummy gross fat pieces.
For your carbs and fats, I suggest you eat more brown or white rice, sweet potatoes, and white potatoes, oats etc. People fear ‘white’ carbs, but honestly for gaining muscle and for eating in general, there’s no harm! What matters the most is that you don’t add crap like butter in your carbs. You don’t need it and there’s a ton of other ways to flavour your stuff. “ Ways To Stop Eating Bland Foods.” For fats, eat more of coconut oil, olive oil, flaxseed oil, avocado, small amount of nuts etc! Coconut oil is great to give your eggs some flavour; I also use it on my toast instead of butter.
Also, enjoy more of of your favourite breads like rye. Having a slice or 2 a day won’t kill you, and for “bulking up” for a smaller person, you’ll need the extra carbs! Even bagels! Bagels are a calorie lifesaver when gaining some muscle, and they’re delicious! Enjoy!
Everything comes down to moderation! Your rye bread is better than McDonalds, so don’t stress about it. Reaching the goal for myself at 2600 calories was challenging, so high calorie breads are great for that.
To understand more about protein read “Protein Guide For Beginners”.
3. Eat As Much As You Can During The Day
Knowing that you have to get down 2,000 calories or what have you, you need to time your meals! During this time of “muscle gaining or weight gaining” you need to ignore your normal breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and start thinking of meal 1, meal 2, etc. Eat every 2 hours, or if you’re like me and you’re not too full, spreading it out to an hour or an hour and half is fine. The more food you get down earlier the better. I like eating as much as I can that way I don’t feel full at night.
But! Don’t be scared to eat later at night if it fits your schedule. Once Jamie and I were done the gym we had a dinner around 8:30-9pm. I worked later, hence why dinner was so late. Calories don’t tell time! Calories in calories out! Obviously just don’t make it crap food. Eating later will NOT make you gain weight. Read some of my “Fitness Myths” to understand 13 things you should get out of your head. I also noticed when I ate later that was my last meal of the night, so snacking didn’t happen at all or nor did I crave junk.
4. Incorporate Weekly “Treat Meals”
I call it treat meals instead of cheat meals. There’s no cheating when we are living our life of balance! It’s called enjoy LIFE!
Incorporating a treat meal once a week will trick your system and will help to restore your hormones, which are responsible for metabolism and insulin regulation. It will also replenish glycogen for an increase of energy and help your body burn calories! It’s crazy I know! This doesn’t mean eat all the junk food, moderation is the key to reaching your goals!
Indulge in a juicy burger, sushi, pizza etc. I love to plan it out, so I can look forward to it! 🙂 It’s also great to have a treat meal after a hard workout like legs!
5. Heavy As She Goes
If I could turn into hulk by touching weights I’d be one happy girl… There are a ton of females out there that are afraid to touch dumbbells because they think that if they lift weights, they will magically become “bulky.” Ladies, if it was that easy a lot of people would be like the hulk! That’s not how it works!
In order to get fuller and gain some muscles we need to put those treats to work and lift heavy! Keep track of your lifts, that way you can slowly incorporate heavier weights each week. I mean just slowly, so by adding an extra 5LB (or less) on each side will do the trick. But you have to not be scared of the weights. It can be intimidating, trust me I know! I finally was squatting one plate on each side. 45’s, which was 135LB! You just have to be ok with being uncomfortable! Obviously you want to make sure your form is ok, but lifting things shouldn’t ever be easy or comfortable.
6. Try New Workout Splits
This one made a huge difference in my physique! A ton of people do the same splits, like back/biceps, chest/triceps, legs, etc. BUT seeing more changes, I suggest you try this method of a “push day” and “pull day.”
Pull days would consist of back, bi’s, which included deadlifts because it works you back and legs, so I tried to do add in a couple leg workouts too. Push days would consist of chest, shoulders, and triceps, then a separate leg day. Doing this split it allows you to train the same muscle groups a couple times a week.
It would look like something like this:
Monday- Pull day (add in some glute or quad workouts.)
Tuesday- Push Day
Friday Pull Day
Saturday- Push day, (or legs) If you’re like me, I try to train legs about 2-3 times a week!
It would constantly change every week, by starting with a different muscle group, so the week after you could start with a push day and keep rotating it each week. I’m fine with having 2 rests a week, depending how I’m feeling sometimes I do enjoy a 3rd rest day. Listen to your body, but still challenge yourself.
7. Change Up How You Train
In order to reach your muscle gaining goals; you really need to change up your training techniques! Changing up the positions of your hand grips, foot positions, high reps, low reps, is key! In order to grow, your body needs change. If you think about it, using the exact same weight with same sets and reps, you will get used to it and soon it won’t be considered “challenging.” This means you’ll just end up going through the motion not even struggling. How are you supposed to grow doing that?
I have provided a list of fun, but challenging ways to train that you should add into your workout routine. Check it out! “Level Up Your Workouts”.
8. Heavy/ Light Week (High reps, low reps)
You have a new workout split and with that split you should add in a heavy and high volume week. This is very simple, every week switch it up. One week is heavy, so try to figure out weights that are challenging enough, but also not wrecking your form. With a heavy week your reps should be lower, so anything from 4-6 reps ONLY is perfect! If you need some help, have a spotter that can help you. It’s honestly a mental thing. When Jamie helps me with 100LB lat pull downs, he only puts his fingers on the bar and it honestly helps! Hah, so you don’t need a ton of extra help.
With your high volume week, go lighter to the point you can bang out about 12-20 reps. That week is to kill your body with the burn! Heavy week is to build strength and high volume is to build that definition.
9. Muscle Mind Connection
There’s much more to training than you think. Being FOCUSED is also a very important key to remember. You can’t just go through the motions, you really need to engage your muscles and squeeze at the top of a movement. Your muscles don’t grow by moving the weights up and down, they grow because they’re forced to contract on that weight! Leave all of your worries, stress at home and get in the zone!
10. Drink Your Calories
No, I don’t mean Starbucks frappuccinos because the goal is not to add on a ton of extra fat. I’m talking about muscle gainer shakes! Uh huh, these work wonders and are pretty tasty. If I told you, you could make a protein shake that’s between 700-1000 calories would you believe me? All good calories too! Time to read up on my “Clean Mass Gainer Shake Recipes”. There are 8 different recipes, and I have provided all the nutritional facts (macros).
Getting enough meals down can be challenging, especially if you’re on the go, or always around your kids, which means less breaks. These shakes are packed with good calories, lots of protein, carbs, and some fats, which will help you reach your macro goal for the day! Don’t stress about every single meal, when you can have these shakes! I had one everyday. It’s filling, but in such a good way.
11. Take A Step Back From The Cardio Machines
Doing too much cardio can actually burn off your muscles! I know it can be hard for some people, but understand that cardio is meant for “losing weight…” If you do a fasted cardio workout, there is nothing to burn besides fat and muscle tissues. Obviously it’s still great to get your body moving because cardio IS good for you, but stick with light walks, or if you’re on the stairmaster, 15-20 mins max. I love doing HIIT cardio on the stairmaster. It went by fast and It killed me! There were times I didn’t do cardio for over a month or so and just stuck with outdoor walks. As for a small person, we don’t need to be on the treadmills that long. What are we honestly trying to burn more of?
12. Learn To Rest
Having a 2-3 rest days a week is very important! I rest usually about twice a week, but If I feel extra tired I listen to my body and take that 3rd day off. I know for some people it can be hard to rest, trust me I know! I love the gym and at times I just want to go in on my rest day, however your body is a hard working machine and it deserves some time off! AND your rest days is when your body grows and repairs itself. These days are crucial and I suggest you plan out your week’s workouts on your phone calendar and write down when your rest days are that way you can make plans and know when your rest day is, as it gives you something to look forward to.
13. Make An Effort To Make Healthy, But Delicious Snacks
With the goal of eating a lot you still want to stay on track with your weekly expenses. I know bodybuilders who wake up and the first thing they eat is steak or ground beef for their first meal. However, we can’t always eat more than 3 meals of meat because it can get expensive. We need to get creative with our snacks and make sure we enjoy them, but also ensure they are healthy, filling, jam packed with protein and sometimes carbs too. Check out “22 Fun Healthy Snack Ideas to get inspired!
If you also need some breakfast ideas that are great and delicious read Tasteful Healthy Breakfast Ideas.
I hope all of this has given you some insight into what you all should do when it comes to growing your muscles and getting stronger! Train abs less and focus on strength training! 🙂 Heavy compound movements like squats, deadlifts and other exercises help strengthen the core! 🙂 If you have any questions or if you’re confused with something, send me a message and I’d love to help you with the best of my ability. I’m not a trainer or a nutritionist, but I do enjoy helping people from my own experiences and giving the tips you need to keep on pushing.