Plans to Build
I know a handfull of readers will probably stop reading this before they even start because “building muscle” isn’t in their game plan as a woman seeking a personal physique or fitness goal. Different strokes for different folks, right? Maybe. Maybe not.
Does this sound so bad?
Lose Body Fat. Weight training builds muscle, as lean muscle increases so does metabolism. .
Gain Strength without Bulking. ...
Decrease Risk of Osteoporosis. ...
Reduce Risk of Injury. ...
Burn More Calories. ...
Improve Posture and Reduce Back Pain. ...
Enhance Mood & Reduce Stress
“No, it doesn’t sound bad, but it’s not the look I’m going for…..” Yeah, I don’t want to look anything like Kelsey Wells either….*eye rolls* She is one of the people that helped shape my opinion on weight training more and more with bursts of cardio rather than all cardio with five minutes of bicep curls at the end of a workout. I still LOVE to run, but lifting weights has an important place in my routine.”
After my Dexa Body Scan, I was more determined than ever to build more lean tissue. The benefit that it has a person’s body is amazing. It was explained to me that the more lean muscle (money), you have in your bank account as opposed to fat (debt), the better your retirement will be! Time to start investing and building that portfolio. That’s the extent of any business lingo I have, so I’ll spare myself the embarrassment of continuing this analogy.
My dexa scan revealed strengths and weakness--which is exactly what I was hoping for! Basically, my upper body carries very little fat, and also not much muscle, while my lower body has more muscle, but also more fat. This is typical of women, so not surprising, but it’s not concrete--it can be changed! I think that’s what intrigues me the most about strength training, you have control over how you body is shaped by muscle and fat. There will always be the first place that your fat hangs out and the muscle group that sees the most improvement in the shortest amount of time, but it will change if you put in the work.
So even though my comfort zone is cardio, plyometrics, and circuits that get me sweating…..I’m going to be focusing on taking more time to build lean muscle by challenging myself with heavier weight and eating more. Yep, you heard that right--you have to eat to build muscle, but the right amount to stay lean. (Thank goodness I don’t have to guess--I will simply increase my macros slowly mostly in the carb and protein department and that should fuel the muscles to grow).
My plan is to build lean muscle over the next few months by making the following changes to my training:
- While building lean muscle mass, I’ll be keeping my sets within the 8-12 rep range (currently I do anywhere from 10-20 depending on the exercise) performing between 2 and 5 sets per exercise.
- The next few months will not be the time for endurance cardio sessions (although I probably will do one longer run a week because I love it). Instead, I’ll focus on putting more energy into lifting heavy enough weights to create small microtears in the muscle tissue so that when given rest they will rebuild themselves back up stronger and bigger (in a process called hypertrophy).
- The reason that long runs and endurance cardio sessions are antagonistic to building lean muscle is that the body wants to adapt in order to suit this type of exercise, thus promoting slow twitch fibers (giving you leaner, stringy type of look) over the fast twitch fibers. Since it is the fast twitch muscle fibers I am looking to increase, my cardio sessions will be kept shorter and sweeter (I hope….I know that will be a struggle).
- Performing HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) circuits will be beneficial since it actually creates a similar anabolic environment in your body that a strength training session would as it recruits fast-twitch muscle fibers.
I will also share in a future post how my nutrition will change to accompany a different training program. Nutrition and exercise are so synergistic that one can’t be separated from the other. If I’m going to benefit from the increase in weights and changes to training, I have to be willing to make necessary adaptations in my macros, too. This doesn’t mean bulking and increasing calories significantly, but changing slowly in key areas will make a big difference and I’m excited to put in the work and see what transpires before my next Dexa Body scan!
Fitness goals can go through phases, from cutting to growing, to increasing endurance, strength, etc. There's no reason to become bored if you have concrete data to help guide you. That's why I recommend a scan if you are starting a new venture that you need help measuring. Never be afraid to mix things up--keeping your body guessing is the BEST thing you can do to avoid plateaus and become well-rounded in your fitness.
1. Are you stagnant in your training or switching thing up?
2. Did this post give you some insight into how to change training style and structure to fit a specific purpose?