2016 Is the Year of the Muscle: 6 Tips to Finish the Year Strong
More women than ever are becoming bodybuilders and focusing on building muscle, but many of them start without the right information to be successful. It’s hard to find the perfect formula for success because every body is different and because there is a lot of conflicting information about women and bodybuilding. But reaching your bodybuilding goals is still achievable for all women no matter what their fitness background is. There is a large community of women bodybuilders so utilize that community feeling for support and tips from other women who are trying to achieve the same muscle and fitness goals. The best way to find a fitness community is a body building forum, and there are tons out there if you do your research and engage with multiple forums until you find the right community for you.
Muscles are built slowly over time and your focus has to be on building muscle, not with fat loss, although building muscle often results in fat loss. Building muscle requires the right mindset, one prepared for a long-term and consistent program. Many beginners start off with advanced training or vary their workouts too much to confuse their muscles, but these aren’t effective ways to build muscle if you’re a beginner. Commit to for the long haul, and build lasting muscle with these 6 tips.
Don’t Focus on Specific Body Parts
A lot of advanced bodybuilders focus on just one or two body parts at a time, working them to exhaustion at every workout. For beginners, this can make you feel exhausted and way too sore, and leaves you prone to injuries. You should feel a moderate amount of soreness the day after a workout, but not be in so much pain that you can’t adequately train during your next workout. If you’re too sore to move the next day, then you’re overdoing it and need to scale back your workout intensity.
For beginner bodybuilders, a good rule of thumb is to perform one or two moves per body part, with no more than 3-4 sets per movement and 8-10 repetitions per set with the last couple being a bit of a struggle to complete. Focus on two body parts per day, performing each twice a week for four strength training workouts per week.
Eat for Muscle Growth, Not Fat Loss
When your goal is losing fat, you want to create a calorie deficit, but when you’re trying to build muscle it’s important that your bodybuilding diet supports your goals. This means you don’t have to worry about strict calorie counting, but you should still be eating healthy whole foods. Provide your body with enough food to give you energy for training and nutrient-rich foods that help your muscles repair tissue for the building. Your bodybuilding diet should have you eating enough but still cutting out junk food. Focus on eating lean protein, fruits, vegetables, slow-digesting carbs (like beans, legumes, oatmeal, and sweet potatoes), and healthy fats (olive oil, avocado, fatty fish). For a rough calorie estimate, multiply your target weight by 20 and eat that many calories per day.
Focus on Your Whole Body; Don’t Just Train Problem Areas
Many beginners want to tone specific areas of their body that they’re most uncomfortable with but you need to give your body a solid foundation to grow from. Learn and perfect basic moves to prevent injury and help you prepare for advanced moves. Focus on overall muscle mass for at least eight weeks before starting any spot training for problem areas. When you focus on building muscle in your whole body, you’ll see that those problem areas start to improve at the same time, maybe even more efficiently than target training problem areas.
Stay Dedicated and Disciplined by Punching the Clock
Early on in your bodybuilding journey it’s important to focus on dedication and discipline, pushing through your workouts and healthy meals without getting discouraged if you don’t see immediate results. Bodybuilding takes time and every single workout is important to your success. If you’re aiming for four workouts a week for eight weeks before advancing your routine, then that’s 32 workouts you can’t miss. There will be days you don’t feel like working out or eating another boring meal of chicken and broccoli, but the key to building muscle is consistency. Keep up with repetitive workouts four days a week for as long as it takes for it to become a part of your routine without you having to think about whether or not you want to go to the gym that day.
When you really are crunched for time, focus on shorter workouts that don’t sacrifice effectiveness. Turn a 60-minute workout into a 30-minute circuit where you hit one body part after another without breaking in between. Reduce the weight if you need to as long as you keep moving through the workout. This kind of quick-paced workout will have you breathing hard and feeling like you just pushed through a cardio workout, providing a great workout in half the time.
Getting Ripped Takes Time; Focus on Building Muscle Mass First
If your goal is to get ripped, you need muscle mass first. This is because when you diet to lose body fat, you lose that hard-earned muscle tissue too. Beginners need muscle mass more than they realize because many don’t have much at all. Gain muscle now to lose fat later in order to work up to that ripped physique. Dieting is essential to get ripped and remember that you’ll lose muscle mass too when you go on a bodybuilding diet. The best way to prevent losing too much muscle is to gain 10 pounds more than your target weight before cutting calories to lose body fat. Remember to also keep calories moderate to give your muscles the energy they need to carry you through your workouts even during shredding periods.
Once You’ve Built a Solid Muscle Mass Foundation, Change Things Up
After 8-10 weeks on a program, you’ll start to see a plateau in your results which means it's time to change things up. The goal is always to continue making progress, and no one can follow the same program forever. Prevent boredom and diminishing results with a major change to your program. Even experienced bodybuilders change their training routines every two months to keep building muscle. Try adding HIIT cardio to your weekly routine or going through a fat-loss phase by cutting calories back from 20 per pound of target body weight to 15.