Building muscle as women is not easy. No matter if it’s to build muscle for sport, competition stage or just a personal goal. Putting on lean muscle can be difficult for most women, that’s because it takes a bit of a perfect storm to do so. First off, muscle building starts with testosterone, and as women we just don’t have that much to start with. Our ovaries and the adrenal glands release testosterone into the blood stream in very small doses, while men produce upwards of 6 to 8 mg per day, the average woman only produces 0.5 mg.
Now, you can’t change your test levels, and majority of us would rather stay the natural route, but there are a few other things we can do to make our bodies more anabolic – as in increase muscle! If you are using ineffective training methods, have a fast metabolism and are lazy when it comes to your diet, you are not helping yourself in the gains department!
In this post, I am going to cover five muscle building mistakes to avoid. These are the most common mistakes that women make when trying to build muscle. Plus, I’m also sharing a few ways that you can maximize your natural testosterone levels and fuel muscle growth with smart nutrition so you can build the tight, sculpted curvy body you desire!
#1 – Food Scares You
If you are forgetting to eat, you are only setting yourself up to fail. Although many woman, think not eating leads to better results, this is far from the truth if you are trying to gain muscle. Many women over train and under eat. Keep track of the amount of exercise you are performing and the number of calories you are taking in.
Are you in a calorie deficit? If so, you are not giving your body sufficient calories or nutrients to trigger muscle growth or even to sustain the lean muscle you have worked hard to put on. To stimulate new growth, up your calories by an additional 15 – 20 percent more. You don’t want to pack on too much weight too quickly, as this won’t be quality lean muscle gain. Aim for 0.5 – 1.0 lb of weight gain per week.
#2 – You Forget About Protein
Protein is the most important macronutrient when it comes to gaining lean muscle. If you do not provide the body with sufficient protein, it cannot maintain protein balance. This makes it difficult to build or even maintain your current muscle mass. In fact, if your muscles protein balance is too low you can’t stimulate muscle building to even happen!
Make sure you are getting at least 1 gram of protein per pound bodyweight. Elevating this to 1.5 g/lb can ensure an adequate supply of amino acids – the building blocks to maintain and stimulate muscle growth. Make sure to choose high quality sources of protein that deliver all of the essential amino acids needed for muscle production including: lean red meat, eggs, whey protein, poultry and fish.
#3 – You Think Carbohydrates Are The Enemy
Carbs are our body’s preferred energy source and play an important part in muscle building. The body stores carbohydrates as glycogen in your liver and in your muscle tissues. Post-workout, when the body needs energy, the stored supply is utilized via conversion of carbohydrates and sugar into ATP or energy through the process of glycolysis.
If you have a high metabolism and have problems putting on weight, chances are your body is burning through its supply of carbohydrates quickly and efficiently. When your carbohydrate levels drop, the body will switch from glycolysis to the process known as gluconeogenisis, which is the conversion of protein into carbohydrates as an energy source.
This is not ideal! Your body may begin utilize your hard-earned muscle for fuel. But, if you provide your body a sufficient amount of complex carbohydrates—at least 30 – 40 percent of your caloric intake depending on the speed of your metabolism—you will be able to maintain muscle and fuel recovery, repair and muscle building.
Choose complex carbohydrates, which are digested slowly and provide sustained energy between meals. Good choices are whole grains, brown rice, sweet potato, bulgur and oatmeal.
#4 – You Don’t Eat Enough Fats
Many women think eating fat makes them fat, but fats are very important when it comes to balancing your hormone levels and preserving muscle. Being deficient of fat in the diet, particularly essential fatty acids or EFAs, can impede muscle building. They assist in amino acid uptake, increase insulin sensitivity, provide the building blocks for growth factors, boost testosterone production and assist with transport of important nutrients in and out of the cells.
In addition, since fats boast the highest caloric value of 9 calories per gram, they are the perfect nutrient for getting in your extra calories. Try adding a handful of nuts or a tablespoon of your favorite nut butter to your oatmeal or protein shake. Also, consider adding a tablespoon of oil such as flax oil or safflower oil over your veggies or salad. Other great fat additions – avocado and olives!
And, don’t forget the saturated fat. Studies have shown that those who train while consuming some saturated fats have the tendency to gain more muscle mass and strength than those who eat less cholesterol. Why? Because cholesterol is converted to testosterone. Make sure to include some red meat, whole eggs, coconut oil, cashews and full fat dairy products from time to time. Aim for a total fat intake of 20 to 30 percent of your daily calories.
#5 – You Miss Out On Post Workout Recovery
Shame on you, if you have been missing out on your post-workout nutrition. The few hours post workout are considered your recovery period, it is essential to get a good meal or protein smoothie to help stimulate recovery and muscle growth!
In fact, it has been shown that consuming a post workout shake during the anabolic window can kick-start muscle protein synthesis and increase testosterone production.
Research suggests consuming a 2 to 1 ratio of simple carbs and protein after a workout is ideal for muscle growth. All you need is a 30 g serving of whey protein powder combined with 60 g of a simple carbohydrate powder to kick-start recovery and muscle building pathways!
There are five most common mistakes women make when trying to build muscle! Now if you’ve got any simple solutions for adding muscle to your body, you would like to share or want to let me know what you tried from this post, I want to hear, tell me about it in the comments below!