Muscles are in style. No longer is the waif-like, super-skinny body the "ideal figure." More and more girls are aiming to build healthy, fit figures that are strong and muscular. Because girls lack the testosterone that boys have, you won't build big, masculine muscles by lifting weights. On the contrary, you'll sculpt an enviable body that looks great and, most importantly, is healthy.
Create a resistance training split schedule. Determine how many days per week you intend to train, and then divide up your body parts based on this. For example, a three-day training split may look something like this: legs and arms one day, back and abs the next, and chest and shoulders on the third day.
Train each body part on its scheduled day. Utilize a variety of exercises, including free weights, machines and cables. When possible, include challenging compound movements such as squats, lunges and bench press. Always use enough resistance so that the last couple of reps are difficult to complete.
Vary your number of reps and sets. Many people stick to the recommended range of three to five sets of eight to 12 reps when they are trying to gain muscle. However, it's a good idea to vary reps and sets to keep your muscles guessing and speed up your gains. Keep the majority of your workouts within this range, but periodically complete workouts with different numbers of reps and sets, adjusting the resistance so that the final reps are still tough.
Consume enough calories to build muscle. Your diet is the most important part of muscle-building success. You need to eat enough calories to fuel your daily activities, workouts and muscle growth. Calculate your basal metabolic rate using an online calculator, and then add 500 to that number. You might need to adjust this number as your program progresses, but this is a good starting point.
Eat five to six small meals each day. Try to space meals out evenly so that you're eating every three to four hours. Each meal should include a lean protein, such as chicken, egg whites, fish or low-fat dairy, as well as a healthy fat and carb source. Healthy fats include unsaturated sources like olive oil and nuts. Your carbohydrates should come from fresh produce and whole grains such as brown rice or oatmeal.
Get plenty of rest. Sleep plays a vital role in many body functions, including glucose regulation, eating patterns, blood pressure and hormonal processes. Sleep debt can hinder protein synthesis, which is the process of building lean mass. Inadequate sleep can also slow muscle recovery and cause a loss of muscle mass. The National Sleep Foundation recommends that teens get at least 8.5 to 9.25 hours of sleep per night.
Keep a log for both your diet and training. Doing so provides a great form of accountability and will help you figure out where to tweak your program if you hit a plateau. If possible, find a workout partner to train with -- not only will this help keep your workouts fun, but it can also provide motivation and make the gym environment seem less intimidating. Make sure you drink at least eight glasses of water each day to avoid dehydration.
Always talk with your doctor before beginning a new workout program. Seek the assistance of a trainer if you're not sure how to perform a movement or use a machine. It's important to always use proper form and make sure machines are correctly adjusted for your size.