It is a well known fact that it’s more difficult for women to gain muscle mass as it is for men. This is because of the higher amounts of testosterone and the naturally greater percentage of muscle mass men have. But physical characteristics aren’t the only reason why it’s so hard for women to build muscle. Most females have psychological concerns, too. They are often afraid of eating too many calories or lifting too heavy weights.
But Ladies, this is absolutely ridiculous! Building muscle can only bring you benefits. It has been scientifically proven that the more muscle mass you have, more likely you will live longer.
The following 5 tips should help you get a better understanding why gaining muscle demands some work:
1. You need more calories.
Nothing comes from nothing. Don’t be afraid of calories!
One of the biggest problems women have is that they always eat too little. It’s a fact that the amount of calories a female has to eat depends on different factors like the height/weight or the lifestyle, but one thing is certain: the more you train, the more nutrients your body needs. Especially when you do CrossFit. Eating 1800 to 2200 calories a day is therefore definitely too little on training days. Always try to eat at least 200-300 calories more than suggested.
It’s very important that you have a positive energy balance at the end of your day, or in other words: to build muscle, you have to take in more calories than you burn! Another important aspect is that you eat healthy stuff. Reaching 2400 calories a day by eating only fast food and sweets is not really difficult. So try to integrate all the needed nutrients in your diet by eating complex carbohydrates like potatoes or brown rice, healthful fats such as PUFAs or olive oil and protein-rich foods like chicken breast or eggs.
Believe me, your body will thank you for it!
2. Eat more proteins.
People say that salad makes your biceps shrink. So I say: “Eat more protein!”
Another big problem is that most women still eat too little protein. To build more muscles, proteins are the most important nutrients for your body. In order to be successful you should take in 1.5 – 2 times the body weight (kilograms) grams of protein per day. For example if you weigh 60 kilograms, 120 grams of protein per day would be perfectly sufficient. Examples for lean and protein-rich foods can be chicken breast, beef, cottage cheese, greek yoghurt, tuna and eggs. Also protein powder (whey after your workout and casein before going to bed) can help you to reach your daily dose of protein.
3. Lift heavy weights.
Guess what? You won’t become Hulk by lifting heavy weights… So bring it on!
Many women think that by lifting heavy weights they immediately get muscular and bulky like bodybuilders. This is so wrong! On the contrary, women can build a strong and sexy body by lifting weights and doing CrossFit. Due to the very small proportion of testosterone, females won’t get as muscular and big as men, and if we do, it’ll take A LOT of time and dedication. So ladies, start to lift this heavy stuff, push yourself to your limits and you will see your gains much faster than expected!
4. Ease off the light cardio training
Running is always a good idea, but f you want to build muscle, focus more of weight training.
Cardio is good for your heart health and your endurance, but if you aim to build muscle, ease off on the cardio and increase the weight training. You gain muscles by training with heavy weights and pushing yourself to the limit. Doing CrossFit is still one of the best ways to do so. It integrates exercises like deadlifts, squats, olympic lifts, push ups, pull-ups, burpees etc. in your training routine. These exercises target the whole body and will help you build muscle mass. A good way to integrate cardio is by trying HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training).
5. Get plenty of sleep
Eat. Sleep. Train. Repeat. Working out should be your party.
If you want to see gains, you should better stop hanging out every weekend in the clubs, drinking alcohol and missing hours of important and relaxing sleep. Alcohol can have many negative consequences for your body. For example it can lead to dehydration, affects the ability to recover or stops your body to produce muscle mass. Instead of partying the whole night it would be much better to go to bed early, getting enough sleep and time for your body to recover from training.
Follow these tips and notice the difference, but give yourself and your body time to adapt to these developments.
Always keep in mind that muscles are torn in the gym, fed in the kitchen and built in bed.
- crossfit-europe-female-athletes: Photo courtesy of CrossFit Inc.