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How to Build Muscle and Lose Fat as a Woman

by
author image Michelle Dawn
Michelle Dawn has written professionally since 2005, covering a variety of topics over that time, the majority of that work focused on health and well-being. A Registered Holistic Nutritionist and Certified Yoga Instructor, she enjoys teaching others how to live their healthiest, happiest life.
How to Build Muscle and Lose Fat as a Woman
A woman is lifting a barbell. Photo Credit Comstock/Stockbyte/Getty Images

As a woman, it's often difficult to get a tight, fit body, especially in common problem areas such as the thighs, hips and buttocks. To build muscle and lose fat, you need the right combination of strength-training exercises and cardio activity in your workout. It takes a lot of hard work but if you keep up with your workouts it will be worth it, and you should start to see results in just a few weeks.

Cardio Comes First

Although it doesn't matter whether you do cardio before or after your weight training, or even if you do it on completely separate days, it's important to get the cardio portion of your workout sorted out because this is the quickest form of exercise for fat-burning purposes. Moderate to high-intensity cardio is best. Walking, running, cycling, rowing, swimming; any activity that gets your body moving and gets your heart rate going will help you shed those layers of body fat -- just make sure you're fitting in at least three to four 30-minute sessions a week.

Get Those Weights Ready

Weight training exercises help you get big muscle gains and also keep your metabolism running high after your workout, so you're still burning calories even after you head home from the gym. An effective strength-training workout is three times a week, starting with a single set of 12 reps and working your way up to three sets of 12 to 15 reps over time. Ensuring your workout incorporates exercises for all the major muscle groups in your body -- such as dumbbell curls, triceps extensions and barbell squats -- will help you burn fat and build muscle.

Don't Forget About Your Diet

What you do in the kitchen will greatly determine your results. You need a proper diet to burn fat and build muscle. When your focus is on shedding the fat, maintain a caloric deficit of around 500 calories a day, meaning you're burning more calories than you're taking in. When you're more concentrated on building lean muscle mass, add more protein and healthy fats in your diet -- nuts, egg whites, chickpeas, lean meats, avocado -- to give your body the energy that it needs to make those muscle gains. Avoid excess salt and sugar, along with fatty, processed foods.

Variety is the Spice of Life

Keeping variety in your workouts and diet is always important. Not only does this help prevent you from growing bored of your routine, but it also creates a constant challenge for your body. Try out different healthy foods and experiment with new recipes. Changing your workout regimen even once every four to six weeks will prevent you from plateauing, because this ensures your body is always adapting and making progress. Either change the types of exercises or even just the number of sets and reps or the order you perform the exercises, to maintain variety.

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