Although women naturally have less muscle-building hormone than men, they can still build significant muscle mass and gain weight by following an appropriate workout program. How much muscle a woman can put on is dependent on her genetics. A workout that will help a woman put on muscle is one that features numerous exercises that consist of multiple sets of higher than normal repetitions. Each workout should consist of primarily compound exercises, which means they require movement at more than one joint, as according to the American Council on Exercise, is more effective at building muscle.
Work your chest, shoulders and triceps on Mondays and Thursdays and your back, biceps and legs on Tuesdays and Fridays. Splitting up the workouts into separate muscle groups allows women more time dedicated to each muscle group. This schedule still allows 72 hours of rest for your muscles so they can fully recover.
Perform three to five sets of six to 12 reps of each exercise. Take just 30 to 90 seconds in between sets. This short rest period facilitates muscle building.
Complete bench presses, incline chest presses, pushups, shoulder presses and bench dips on your chest, shoulders and triceps workout. Each of these exercises is a compound, multi-joint activity. The bench press, incline chest press and pushups focus on the chest, but also work your shoulders and triceps. The shoulder press places more emphasis on the shoulders, but also works the triceps, and bench dips focus on the triceps, but also work your shoulders and chest.
Incorporate lat pulldowns, seated rows, bent-over rows, squats, lunges and deadlifts into your back, biceps and leg workout. The lat pulldown, seated row and bent-over row work both your back and biceps muscles. The squat, lunge and deadlift exercises target all the major muscles in the legs, including the glutes, quads, hamstrings and calves.
Select an amount of weight to make each set challenging. Women should use a weight that allows them to do six reps, but no more than 12 reps of an exercise. Otherwise, their workout won’t provide enough stress to overload their muscles and promote development.
Fuel the muscle-building process by consuming a meal of lean protein and carbohydrates within 30 minutes after completing each workout. Dr. Joseph A. Chromiak recommends taking in 0.65 to 0.80 grams of protein daily for every pound a women weighs.
Train with a partner so she can act like a spotter when you’re completing exercises that involve holding the weights over your head. Visit your doctor prior to beginning a new workout program.
- American Council on Exercise: What Exercises Should I Perform if I'm Trying to Gain Weight?
- American Council on Exercise: How Women Build Muscle
- National Strength and Conditioning Association: Strength Training for Muscle Building
- ExRx.net: Chest Exercise Menu
- ExRx.net: Back Exercise Menu
- ExRx.net: Hip Exercise Menu