Female Muscle Growth – The Unrivaled Guide

Three main questions are commonly asked about female muscle growth—Can women grow muscle as efficiently as men? Will bodybuilding turn females into bulky she-hulks? And how can women gain tight, toned, lean muscle?

Well, stick with me—because you’re going to find the answers here.

There’s a lot of myths and misinformation surrounding the subject of female muscle growth, so much so that it sometimes discourages women from taking the first steps toward an awesome body.

And that’s a shame.

This article will set the record straight. Showing you how muscle can be built to obtain an impressive figure—all you need is some dedication.

It brings you the truth behind female bodybuilding, leading you step-by-step to impressive and simple female muscle gain.

Contents

Is Impressive Muscle Growth Only Possible for Men?

In short, no. Whether male or female, muscle growth is possible through resistance strength training—that is, lifting weights.

Let me clear up a misnomer.

It’s a fact that women have around 14–20 times less testosterone than men—this is often cited as proof that women cannot build muscle as efficiently as guys.

The basis for this theory is that testosterone is an anabolic hormone—it helps to promote muscle growth. Hence, less testosterone must equal weaker muscle building power. (1, 2)

This is untrue.

Proportionally speaking, studies have shown that women build muscle at the same rate as men.

The difference lies in that men, through genetics, have more muscle mass to begin with than women.

The fibers which result in dramatic muscle growth are also inherently larger in males. (3, 4, 5)

This means that while women do amass muscle at the same rate as their male bodybuilding counterparts, the change isn’t as visually dramatic.

Let me give you an analogy.

Think of it as interest in your bank account.

If you earn 20 percent interest a year, but you only had $1 to start with, 20 cents doesn’t seem much. Yet, if you had banked $10,000, that 20 percent amounts to a very worthwhile $2000.

This means that where guys may turn into massive hulking beasts, it’s impossible for women to achieve the same mass.

It’s true that with the correct diet, training, and supplementation, females can gain visibly astounding muscle, yet they will never look the same as a man.

muscular woman

Is Cardio Better Than Bodybuilding for Women Looking to Gain Muscle?

There are two incorrect assumptions about female bodybuilding—either a woman cannot build muscle, or if she begins weightlifting, she’s going to turn into a masculine beast.

This has led some people to the sexist belief that weightlifting is for men, cardio is for women.

Here’s the truth.

A certain amount of cardio is important. Exercise that increases the workload on the heart can provide the benefits of:

  • Lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol. (6)
  • Reducing the risk of heart disease.
  • Reducing blood pressure. (7)
  • Controlling blood sugar levels. (8)
  • Assisting with weight loss. (9)
  • Increasing antibodies (immunoglobulins) and strengthening the immune system. (10)
  • Raising cognitive performance. (11)
  • Improving mood and helping to alleviate depression. (12)

However, considering frequent high-intensity cardio workouts as the answer to female muscle growth is wrong.

I’ll take you through it.

High levels of cardio exercise, especially when combined with a calorie-restricted diet, will undoubtedly lead to fat loss. Yet, in many cases, this is not conducive to building muscle.

Energy expelled through exercise, and your daily routine comes from one of two main stores—glycogen stored in the muscles, and fat.

When you use up these reserves, for example through intense weight loss and training, the body looks for another source—protein and muscle. (13, 14)

This can lead to a position where the body (a) is destroying its muscle-building proteins and (b) enters a catabolic state where muscles break down for energy.

The bottom line:

Too much intense cardio exercise can provide the opposite to female muscle growth—it can destroy it.

Women exacerbate this problem by noticing they are losing weight, dropping a dress size and therefore thinking that cardio is improving their figure.

Effectively, all it is doing is creating a body form known as “skinny fat.”

The female body in this state has no tone. You may fit into your size zero jeans, but your butt, arms, and thighs are all characteristically “floppy.”

But, there’s an answer.

The correct diet, combined with a workout regime which concentrates on resistance exercise, builds muscle, enhances tone and leads to an all-around awesome figure.

Weight training is the female’s friend, not the enemy.

muscular female

How Long Does It Take to Build Muscle for Females?

Unfortunately, there’s no definitive answer. The rate of muscle growth depends on numerous factors. These include:

Genetics

Although we have seen that attainable muscle growth in females and males is virtually identical, there are genetic factors which can affect how fast people build mass.

Muscles are built out of fast and slow-twitch muscle fibers. While they can both increase in size through resistance training, the fast-twitch fibers grow at the quickest rate.

The higher the density of these fibers, the sooner you’ll see results in your training. (15, 16)

Depending on the DNA you have inherited, you may have more or less of these important muscle builders.

If you have a lower density than your bodybuilding friend, you will put on muscle slower—although your ability to reach the same mass eventually remains the same—it will just take longer.

Frequency of Exercise

The more work you put in, the faster you will see results.

Just hitting the gym for an hour a week is better than doing nothing—but it is not conducive to fast female muscle growth.

You need a dedicated regime—one that requires you to work out at least three times a week to achieve an impressive definition—including the correct type of training.

Additionally, the heavier the weights and more sets you do, the faster the returns. More on that later.

Consuming the Correct Foods

Watching the diet is essential for building muscle.

Ensuring the correct nutrients are being received by the muscles enhances their growth rate and increases the returns on the work completed at the gym.

Here’s the deal.

The above factors all contribute to the speed of muscle gain, but there are some generalizations that we can make.

Assuming that you are watching the diet and hitting the gym at least three times a week, here are the results you can expect.

Within the first two weeks, you should be able to see some visible changes. I’m not talking clearly defined muscle here—more a “tighter” appearance.

Some of the floppy areas should begin to firm up. Additionally, many women say they feel more energized and sport a more “alert” and brighter appearance in these early days.

While you will definitely see gradual improvements as the weeks go by, it’s in weeks six to eight that the most impressive returns are witnessed.

This is the time where other people will really start noticing the difference—and commenting on it!

Muscle definition and size will be vastly improved, leaving you with an awesome body.

Asian Female Bodybuilder

How Many Pounds of Muscle Can a Woman Gain in a Month?

Assuming that a female attends the gym regularly and watches the diet, studies have shown that she can expect to make gains of around a half-pound of lean muscle per week. (17)

That being said, those with a predisposition to muscle gain can make increases of up to one pound per week.

But, it’s not all about size.

As the muscles rebuild and become larger, they also increase in strength. After eight weeks of training, overall power can increase by up to 24 percent.

How Can a Woman Build Lean Muscle?

You’ve read the theory, and hopefully, by now have had many of your questions regarding female muscle growth answered.

Let’s get started on building astounding lean muscle!

But first, I want to make something clear.

Attaining impressive lean muscle is possible for any woman. However, it does require one main component that I cannot give you in this article—dedication.

Building a phenomenal physique takes time, effort and lots of hard work.

Once you begin to see the rewards, it becomes easier. That tighter body will inspire you to carry on—pushing you harder and enhancing your body even more.

It’s not a lie when I say—working out becomes like a drug. Resistance training releases endorphins—meaning not only are you looking incredible, but you’re also feeling amazing too. (18)

Optimizing female muscle growth is dependent upon three main factors—exercise, diet, and supplementation.

1. Exercise

It’s time for you to forget about exercise balls, yoga, HIIT, or whatever the latest fitness fad is.

They may improve your cardio and assist with flexibility, but they will not contribute to visible female muscle growth.

For serious results, you will need to use resistance training.

Ideally, this means using the weights and equipment available at your local gym, or if you are lucky enough—a home gym.

That being said, some quite impressive returns can be achieved at home using nothing but your own body weight as resistance.

But, for large muscle gains and powerful strength enhancement—weights are essential.

Resistance training involves working the muscles of the body so hard that you actually injure them.

We’re not talking strains, pulls or tears here—that’s counterproductive.

Instead, when lifting the weights, you will push muscles to the limit causing microtrauma to the muscle fibers.

As a protective measure, and to ensure that it’s prepared for future stresses of this nature, the body rebuilds these muscles—larger, thicker, and stronger. (19)

And that’s the simple principle behind female muscle growth.

Here’s the key.

For resistance exercise to be effective and promote this growth, the following factors are needed:

  • High-frequency training—you should have 3–5 training sessions per week. (20)
  • Repetitions—the ideal number of reps is generally agreed to be 8–14 per set.
  • Heavyweights—these should lead to complete muscle fatigue around the 8–14 rep mark.
  • Numerous sets of the same exercise—the sets should be completed three or four times, with a short rest period in between.
  • Compound exercises—exercises that work more than one muscle have shown to create a better definition—leading to a more symmetrical physique.

Roasted Dinner

2. Diet

Never has the saying, you are what you eat, been apter than when applied to female muscle growth.

Effective female muscle growth is dependent on food intake—you can push yourself as hard as you want in the gym, but without the correct nutrition, your results will be severely limited.

Firstly, we need to address calories.

Forget everything you’ve learned about traditional fitness plans that concentrate on reducing these energy power packs while combining with an exercise routine.

To build muscle, you need to increase your calorie consumption.

You read that right.

Both the demands of resistance exercise and the muscle-building process are reliant on having a caloric surplus.

As a general rule of thumb, multiply your weight (in pounds) by 20 to discover your calorie requirements.

Hence for a female weighing 110 pounds, daily caloric intake of 2,200 is required.

For a more exact lean muscle calorie calculator that takes into account activity levels, height, and age, click here. (21, 22)

Secondly, protein is essential. This is the building block for all muscle growth—too little protein and the muscle fibers cannot repair.

For normal daily requirements, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) recommends 0.36 grams of protein for every pound of body weight.

However, when looking to build muscle, this needs to be increased to 0.8–1 gram of protein per pound. (23)

Thirdly, watch the fat. You still need it for energy (plus, it makes food taste great), but overdoing it can reduce definition.

Research has indicated that around 15 percent of calories should come from fat. As a quick calculation, this equates to around 0.3 grams per pound of body weight. (24, 25)

Finally, the rest of your calorie intake should come from carbohydrates—don’t cut them out entirely, they aren’t as bad for you as you may believe.

They are the body’s preferred source of energy—without them, it will look elsewhere, possibly consuming the all-important muscle-building protein. (26)

3. Supplementation

Let’s put something to rest once and for all.

Supplementing for female muscle growth doesn’t mean injecting yourself with illegal steroids.

Although, if you do want to bulk up like a hulk and be mistaken for a guy—then, by all means, consider them—although you may fall foul of the law enforcement authorities. (27, 28)

That being said, also be aware that gaining muscle using these synthetic drugs is likely to cause some pretty awful side effects.

These can include an enlarged clitoris, disappearance of breasts, irregular menstruation, reduction of fertility, hairiness, liver damage, an enlarged heart, and premature death. (29)

Instead of steroids, I’m talking about safe supplementation.

This involves using products that are scientifically proven to enhance the returns of resistance training. They work in conjunction with the body, not against it.

Some supplements, such as whey protein, enable you to reach your nutrient targets easily—in circumstances where meeting this requirement through diet alone proves difficult.

Others supplements can improve training performance—increasing stamina, raising endurance, speeding-up recovery times, and promoting muscle growth.

Supplements are not for everyone—with some people considering them “cheating.”

I find them to be a powerful tool for impressive female muscle growth—yet I know some will disagree.

Hence, at the end of this article, I have included a section on these effective products detailing what I consider to be the best ones available on the market for women.

That being said, whey protein should seriously be considered—otherwise, you’ll need to eat a lot of meat—difficult if you’re a vegetarian or vegan.

Therefore, in my diet guideline below, I have included one scoop of this supplement per day.

Now, let’s begin building muscle!

How to Build Muscle Fast for Females

Here’s my step-by-step guide for impressive female muscle growth.

  1. Follow my gym workout for female muscle growth. For those women unable or unwilling to attend a gym, I have compiled a home bodyweight workout as a useful alternative.
  2. Use the one-week, muscle-building diet plan.
  3. Utilize some of the best female bodybuilding supplements listed (optional—but will genuinely lead to more impressive results).
  4. Ensure you have enough sleep every night, to increase your energy reserves.
  5. Remain committed to both the meal plan and exercise workouts for at least eight weeks.
  6. Revel in your new astounding and phenomenal muscular physique.

Gym Workout for Female Muscle Growth

Below is my suggested gym workout for effective muscle growth.

I have compiled it to be more female-centric than a “standard” male workout—that is, it concentrates more on typical female-issue areas—the lower body and stomach.

Just a few pointers before you get going:

  • If you’re new to the gym, learn to use the equipment first—failure to do so can cause injury or unimpressive results. Speak to seasoned gym members or staff, to understand the machines and weights available, and how to perform exercises correctly.
  • Use the heaviest weights possible to achieve the rep count indicated—the last few reps should take every ounce of determination to complete. If they don’t, increase the size of the plates.
  • Don’t spend time taking selfies during your rest periods—this can increase the rest period which is counterproductive and means you lose focus.

Monday—Butt, Abdominals and Lower Body

Wide-Stance Barbell Squat

1. Barbell Squat (wide position)

Equipment:             Barbell, weights, rack.
Muscle Worked:     Quadriceps.
Repetitions:             12.
Sets:                          4.
Rest:                         2 minutes.

Pro Tip

Ensure that your feet are wider apart than your shoulders. The descent should stop when your thighs are parallel to the floor. Here’s a demo video from Howcast.

2. One-Leg Deadlift

Equipment:             Kettlebell.
Muscle Worked:     Hamstrings.
Repetitions:            12.
Sets:                          4.
Rest:                         2 minutes.

Pro Tip

In the lowest position, your back and raised rear leg should be in one straight line.

3. Decline Reverse Crunch

Equipment:               Decline bench.
Muscle Worked:       Abdominals.
Repetitions:               12.
Sets:                            4.
Rest:                           2 minutes.

Pro Tip

In the full crunch position, only your shoulders and upper back should be in contact with the decline bench.

4. Step Ups With Dumbbells

Equipment:               Dumbbells, platform or bench.
Muscle Worked:       Quadriceps.
Repetitions:               12 per individual leg.
Sets:                            4.
Rest:                           2 minutes.

Pro Tip

Ensure you’re breathing out as you lift yourself onto the bench.

5. One-Leg Cable Reverse Kick (aka Cable Hip-Extension)

Equipment:               Cable machine.
Muscle Worked:       Glutes.
Repetitions:               12.
Sets:                            4.
Rest:                           2 minutes.

Pro Tip

When your leg is fully extended behind you, squeeze your glute muscles tightly for maximum results.

Tuesday—Triceps and Back Muscles

Dumbbell Overhead Tricep Extension

1. Dumbbell Overhead Tricep Extension

Equipment:               Dumbbell.
Muscle Worked:       Triceps.
Repetitions:               12.
Sets:                             4.
Rest:                            2 minutes.

Pro Tip

Keep your elbows level with your temples throughout this exercise.

2. Lat Pulldown (wide-grip position)

Equipment:               Cable machine with wide-bar attachment.
Muscle Worked:       Latissimus dorsi.
Repetitions:               12.
Sets:                            4.
Rest:                           2 minutes.

Pro Tip

Only move your arms; the back and chest should remain in the same position. Ensure that you’re pulling down with the back muscles, not the biceps.

3. Seated Cable Rows

Equipment:               Low cable machine with wide a V-bar.
Muscle Worked:       Middle back.
Repetitions:               14.
Sets:                            4.
Rest:                           2 minutes.

Pro Tip

Don’t swing your upper body backward and forward with each pull and release—this can lead to injury. Here’s a demo from ScottHermanFitness.

4. Medicine Ball Slam

Equipment:               Medicine ball.
Muscle Worked:       Latissimus dorsi.
Repetitions:               14.
Sets:                            4.
Rest:                           2 minutes.

Pro Tip

Your feet should be shoulder-width apart. When raising the ball behind your head, don’t allow your arms to bend through more than 90 degrees.

5. Bent-Over Row

Equipment:               Barbell and weights.
Muscle Worked:       Middle back.
Repetitions:               14.
Sets:                            4.
Rest:                           2 minutes.

Pro Tip

Ensure your hands are facing palms down. If you suffer from any back issues, don’t attempt this exercise. Instead, stick with the seated cable rows as detailed above.

Wednesday—Gentle Cardio

Jogging for Cardio

Your body needs time to recover and build muscle, so you should have at least two rest days off from the resistance training per week.

However, this is an ideal day to remain active by doing a little gentle cardio.

The key here is to get the heart pumping, but not place any stress on the muscles—so weights are definitely excluded for this day.

Instead, go for a steady jog or complete some fairly sedate non-resistance circuit training.

It’s not just giving the muscles a break that promotes benefits.

The increased blood flow that cardio provides delivers increased nutrients and oxygen to the muscles—allowing them to repair and build faster.

Thursday—Biceps and Shoulders

1. Side Lateral Raise

Equipment:               Dumbbell.
Muscle Worked:       Shoulders.
Repetitions:               12.
Sets:                            4.
Rest:                           2 minutes.

Pro Tip

Use your free hand to stabilize yourself by gripping a bench or rack. Avoid the temptation to “swing,” as this reduces the positive effects of this exercise.

2. Hammer Curls (aka Bicep Curls with Neutral Grip)

Equipment:               Dumbbells.
Muscle Worked:       Biceps.
Repetitions:               14.
Sets:                            4.
Rest:                           2 minutes.

Pro Tip

Keep both your elbows and upper arms stationary, to place maximum effort on the biceps. Here’s a demo video from Howcast.

3. Military Press

Equipment:               Barbell and weights.
Muscle Worked:       Shoulders.
Repetitions:               14.
Sets:                            4.
Rest:                           2 minutes.

Pro Tip

Should a barbell not be available, this exercise can be completed with a pair of dumbbells.

If you suffer from lower back problems, then complete this exercise while seated on a bench.

4. Rear Delt Fly

Equipment:               Dumbbells, bench.
Muscle Worked:       Shoulders.
Repetitions:               12.
Sets:                            4.
Rest:                           2 minutes.

Pro Tip

For maximum effect, ensure that you do not swing your torso.

Additionally, take care that your raises are level with your shoulders—do not lift backward toward your buttocks or lower back.

5. Incline Barbell Curls

Equipment:               Barbell and weights, incline bench.
Muscle Worked:       Biceps.
Repetitions:               14.
Sets:                            4.
Rest:                           2 minutes.

Pro Tip

To ensure maximum resistance on the biceps, slow and steady is the key. Only your forearms should move throughout this exercise.

Friday—Chest and Biceps

Incline Dumbbell Press

1. Dumbbell Press with Incline

Equipment:               Dumbbells, incline bench.
Muscle Worked:       Pectorals.
Repetitions:               14.
Sets:                            4.
Rest:                           2 minutes.

Pro Tip

Keep palms facing away from you, and exhale with each press.

2. Dumbbell Flyes

Equipment:               Dumbbells, bench.
Muscle Worked:       Pectorals.
Repetitions:               14.
Sets:                            4.
Rest:                           2 minutes.

Pro Tip

Your arms should be slightly bent at the elbows and, once in this position, the only movement happens at the shoulders.

Follow the same arc when lowering as you do when raising. Here’s a demo video from Jennifer Martin.

3. Military Press

Equipment:               Barbell and weights.
Muscle Worked:       Shoulders.
Repetitions:               14.
Sets:                            4.
Rest:                           2 minutes.

Pro Tip

Hold the barbell with the palms facing forward. The bar should be gripped further than shoulder-width apart.

3. One Arm Cable Curl

Equipment:               Cable low pulley machine.
Muscle Worked:       Biceps.
Repetitions:               14 per individual arm.
Sets:                            4.
Rest:                           2 minutes.

Pro Tip

Ensure that the upper arm does not move in this exercise. Lower your forearm when it touches your bicep.

4. Low Cable Crossover

Equipment:               Cable machine.
Muscle Worked:       Pectorals
Repetitions:               14.
Sets:                            4.
Rest:                           2 minutes.

Pro Tip

The exercise should begin with your palms facing forward. Ensure that your hands almost touch when in front of your chest.

5. Chest Dips

Equipment:               Dip station.
Muscle Worked:       Pectorals
Repetitions:               14.
Sets:                            4.
Rest:                           2 minutes.

Pro Tip

Lean forward at about a 25–35 degree angle to place maximum pressure on the chest muscles.

Saturday—Lower Body and Abdominals

Deadlift

1. Deadlift

Equipment:               Barbell and weights.
Muscle Worked:       Hamstrings.
Repetitions:               14.
Sets:                            4.
Rest:                           2 minutes.

Pro Tip

Keep your feet hip-width apart and use an alternating grip (one hand faces inward, the other outward).

2. Leg Extensions

Equipment:               Leg extension machine.
Muscle Worked:       Quadriceps.
Repetitions:               14.
Sets:                            4.
Rest:                           2 minutes.

Pro Tip

Position yourself on the seat of the leg extension machine so that your upper and lower legs form a 90-degree angle.

Otherwise, unnecessary and injury-causing pressure can be placed on the knee joint.

Here’s a demo video from MrSupplement.

3. Hip Thrust with Barbell

Equipment:               Barbell with weights, bench.
Muscle Worked:       Glutes.
Repetitions:               14.
Sets:                            4.
Rest:                           2 minutes.

Pro Tip

I recommend that for comfort during this exercise, you use either a fat bar or wrap some padding around a standard Olympic bar.

4. Hanging Oblique Knee Raise

Equipment:               Bodyweight, hanging bar.
Muscle Worked:       Abdominals.
Repetitions:               14.
Sets:                            4.
Rest:                           2 minutes.

Pro Tip

Keep knees tightly pressed together and avoid any swinging.

5. Standing Cable Lift

Equipment:               Cable machine.
Muscle Worked:        Abdominals.
Repetitions:               14.
Sets:                            4.
Rest:                           2 minutes.

Pro Tip

Keep your back as straight as possible, with your arms pressed tightly to your sides to increase the workload on the abdominals.

Sunday—Rest

Workout Recovery

You should have at least one day a week where you do absolutely nothing at all!

However, if guilt overwhelms you, you have permission to do some light stretching which can reduce DOMS (delayed-onset muscle soreness) and stiffness.

But, take my advice.

Pushing yourself hard in the gym doesn’t just take its toll on the muscles—it’s also mentally taxing.

Knocking out the final reps in a set takes a lot of focus, determination, and concentration—your brain needs a rest too.

So, on your rest day—give your head a break and treat it to some TLC.

Go for a walk outside, spend time with friends and family, meditate, watch TV—anything that you find relaxing.

Bodyweight Exercises for Women

Sometimes, finances, family, work duties or just a lack of time can mean you can’t make it to the gym.

I have, therefore, put together a workout routine to be completed at home—purely using your bodyweight for resistance.

This can be utilized as a complete replacement for attending the gym, or as a short-term replacement—should you be on vacation or have other commitments.

As many people “think” they know how to do these standard exercises, they are often completed incorrectly—leading to injury. I have therefore included step-by-step instructions for each workout.

It can be completed daily, but ensure that you have a couple of rest days during the week.

While it is a highly effective training tool, bear in mind that it will not promote female muscle growth to the level the heavy weights will provide.

Women's Muscle-Building Workout Routine at Home

The following workout gives attention to all the major muscle groups of the body. Including rest periods, it will take around 1–1.25 hours to complete.

Each exercise explains how many repetitions you should complete. Depending on your current fitness levels, they may either be too intense or work you too little.

Hence, the first time you complete this workout, you should complete each set for every individual exercise until fatigue sets in. This is your rep target.

As muscles build and grow, these reps can be increased—or raise the difficulty as indicated in the pro tips.

1. Push-Ups—Chest

Push Ups For Women

Main muscles worked:                    Pectorals.
Secondary muscles worked:          Triceps, biceps, deltoids, and abdominals.

Probably the most famous of all bodyweight resistance exercises. A powerful tool which is one of the best ways for increasing chest muscle.

Just a quick note. Don’t think that by increasing your chest muscles your breasts will become smaller or that you will gain a “manly” chest.

Breast tissue sits on top of the muscle, not beneath. Giving your chest a workout improves breast appearance by giving them “lift,” making them appear larger and perter.

  1. Lie face down on the ground. Position your palms underneath the shoulders and flat on the floor.
  2. Lock-out your arms, raising your body off the ground.
  3. The only parts of your body now touching the floor should be the palms of the hands and your toes.
  4. Legs should be kept tightly together.
  5. Ensure that your back, buttocks, and legs form one straight line
  6. Keep your eyes fixed on the floor, about six inches ahead of you.
  7. This is the starting position.
  8. Breathe in, and lower yourself slowly toward the floor. This is achieved by only bending your arms at the elbows.
  9. When the arms are at a 90-degree angle, stop and hold for around one second.
  10. Exhale and push your body upward again by straightening the arms—working the pectorals hard. Stop when you reach your starting position again.
  11. Ensure that, throughout the exercise, your back and legs remain in one straight line.
  12. That is one repetition completed.
  13. Do 12 repetitions. Rest for three minutes. Then, complete two more sets, ensuring you have a break of three minutes in between each.

Pro Tip

To increase difficulty and to work the pectorals harder, this exercise can be completed with a weighted backpack.

If you don’t have free weights at home, bags of rice or water bottles can be substituted instead.

2. Sit Ups—Stomach

Main muscles worked:                    Abdominals.
Secondary muscles worked:          Hip flexors, neck (trapezius), lower back (erector

spinae).

Another traditional exercise, yet one that has become increasingly rare due to the popularity of the “crunch.” Mostly, this is due to the belief that it can cause back issues.

However, if the exercise is performed as outlined below, there’s no more risk to the back than its competitor—and provides greater all-around muscle benefits.

  1. Lie on the floor, flat on your back.
  2. Raise your knees and keep your feet on the floor, so the legs form an inverted V-shape.
  3. Keep the feet secure—either by positioning them under an item of furniture or asking a friend to assist.
  4. Legs should be waist-width apart.
  5. Position the palms of your hands flat on your ears, with your elbows pointing toward the knees.
  6. This is the starting position.
  7. Exhale, raising your torso upwards using only your abdominal muscles, until your elbows are about eight inches from your knees.
  8. Hold for one second.
  9. Inhale and lower yourself slowly back to the floor in a controlled fashion—do not “drop.”
  10. That is one complete repetition.
  11. Complete a set of 15 repetitions.
  12. Rest for three minutes.
  13. Complete two more sets, with a three-minute break in between each.

Pro Tip

Through this exercise, ensure that you don’t “rock” up and down—all upward and downward movement should be done slowly and in a controlled manner.

Rocking not only reduces the workload on the abdominal muscles, but it also increases the chance of straining or injuring the back.

3. Wide Position Push Ups—Arms

Main muscles worked:                    Biceps, triceps.
Secondary muscles worked:          Abdominals, pectorals.

By widening the push-up position, less stress is placed on the pectorals (as in the standard version) and more on the biceps, triceps and abdominal muscles.

  1. Lie face down on the ground.
  2. Extend legs straight behind you—they should be hip-width apart,
  3. Position your palms flat on the floor. They should be around five inches to the side of each shoulder, fingers facing forward.
  4. Push yourself upward with your arms until they are fully locked.
  5. Keep eyes focused on the floor, around six inches ahead of you.
  6. Your back, legs, and buttocks should form one completely straight line.
  7. This is the starting position.
  8. Inhale and lower yourself slowly down toward the ground by bending your elbows. Once the forearms and upper arms are at a 90-degree angle—stop.
  9. Hold for one second.
  10. Exhale while raising your torso—only using your arms for power.
  11. Once you reach the starting position again, hold for one second.
  12. That completes one full repetition.
  13. Repeat, until 15 repetitions have been completed, then rest for three minutes.
  14. Do two more sets, with a three-minute break in between each.

Pro Tip

To increase difficulty even further and to work the biceps and triceps harder, increase the distance between the hands.

4. Flying Superman—Back

Main muscles worked:                    Spinal erectors (lower back)
Secondary muscles worked:          Glutes, trapezius, stabilizers, abdominals.

This may prove difficult for those people who haven’t exercised for a while. If that’s the case, reduce the “hold” time.

  1. Place an exercise mat or towel on the floor.
  2. Lie face down on the mat.
  3. Extend your arms along the ground fully out in front of you. They should be shoulder-width apart.
  4. Ensure your legs are straight and tight together, pointing your toes backward.
  5. Raise arms, chest, and legs off the floor. Arms and legs should be at a height of around eight inches and perfectly straight—this creates a typical “Superman” position.
  6. The only part of your body that is in contact with the ground is your lower abdomen.
  7. Try to hold for one minute. Inhale and exhale slowly throughout this period.
  8. Gently lower the arms, legs, and chest back to the floor.
  9. That completes one set of the flying Superman.
  10. Rest for three minutes.
  11. Complete two more sets of this exercise, ensuring a rest period of three minutes after each.

Pro Tip

To increase the intensity of this exercise, small dumbbells can be held in the hands—if none are available, substitute with water bottles or bags of sugar or rice.

5. Standard Squats—Legs

Squats Exercises Women

Main muscles worked:                    Quadriceps.
Secondary muscles worked:          Hamstrings, calves, hamstrings, glutes.

An exercise which looks easy—but you will really feel the burn!

  1. Stand up straight with your feet positioned a little further than shoulder-width apart. Toes should be pointing outward to a small degree.
  2. Look straight forward, staring into the middle distance.
  3. Bend the knees to move into the squat position—as you do so, bend slightly at the hips, leaning forward.
  4. Stop when your thighs are parallel to the ground.
  5. Raise your arms, palms facing downward, so they too are parallel to the ground. They should be fully locked.
  6. This is the starting position.
  7. Drive through your quads (thighs) and calves, pushing your body into a fully erect position.
  8. Arms should always remain parallel to the floor—avoid the temptation to swing them to assist with your movement.
  9. When your legs are locked out and your back is straight, lower yourself again to the starting position. This should be done slowly and in a controlled manner—do not “drop” back into the squat.
  10. That completes one repetition.
  11. When 15 of these squats have been performed, rest for three minutes.
  12. Complete two further sets, with a three-minute break period in between.

Pro Tip

The slower this exercise is performed, the better. This increases the intensity on the quads and hamstrings, leading to more effective muscle gain.

6. The Dip—Shoulders

This exercise requires a couple of chairs to function as “dip bars.” As an alternative, children’s play areas often have metal climbing frames that can be used instead.

  1. Stand between two strong dining chairs, their backs facing your sides.
  2. Place one hand on the top of each chair back.
  3. Lockout your arms.
  4. Lift your legs off the floor by bending them at the knees, pulling your ankles up toward your buttocks.
  5. You should now be supported off the ground by your arms alone.
  6. This is the starting position.
  7. Inhale, and lower yourself slowly downward by bending your arms at the elbows—feet remaining clear of the floor.
  8. When your forearms and upper arms reach a 90-degree angle, push yourself into the starting position again, concentrating on powering through the shoulder muscles.
  9. That’s one repetition.
  10. Complete three sets of 15 repetitions with a three-minute break in between each set.

Pro Tip

If you find you don’t have the strength to complete even one repetition, it’s possible to lower the difficulty.

Instead of lifting your legs off the floor, stretch them out in front of you, so only your heels touch the ground.

Then, complete the exercise by pivoting on your heels as you push with your shoulders.

What Women Should Eat to Build Muscle

Meal Plans for Building Muscle for Females

I have put together this meal plan to be used in conjunction with the Gym Workout for Female Muscle Growth above or the home bodyweight workout.

This plan includes all the necessary carbohydrates, proteins, and fats for energy and muscle growth.

As tastes and availability vary, it may be that some foodstuffs are not ideal for your situation. In which case, substitute for similar alternatives.

I recommend using the United States Department of Agriculture food database to check the nutritional values.

One final point. Each day includes a scoop (20 grams) of whey protein—ideally, this should be taken around 30–60 minutes before your workout. Its included with breakfast simply as a reminder.

7 Day Meal Plan for Muscle Gain for Females

Sunday

Breakfast
One scoop of whey isolate protein powder.

Omelette made from the whites of 6 eggs, one slice of brown bread, one tablespoon of olive oil, one medium-sized banana.

Morning Snack
0.5 cups of Greek yogurt, 1 cup of raspberries, two tablespoons of sesame seeds.

Lunch
Six ounces of grilled chicken breast, one slice of brown bread, 7 ounces of steamed broccoli, one tablespoon of olive oil, one medium-sized orange.

Afternoon Snack
One medium-sized apple, 14 unsalted peanuts.

Dinner
Six ounces of grass-fed beefsteak, 7 ounces of boiled carrots, one small yam, one tablespoon of olive oil, one tablespoon of lemon juice.

Evening Snack
0.75 cup of cottage cheese (preferably low-fat), two tablespoons of unsalted peanut butter.

Monday

Breakfast
One scoop of whey isolate protein powder.

Omelette made from the whites of 6 eggs, two slices of wholemeal bread, two tablespoons of unsalted peanuts, one medium-sized banana.

Morning Snack
Five ounces of canned tuna, three celery sticks, 1.5 ounces of grated hard cheese, one slice of wholemeal bread.

Lunch
Six ounces of grilled turkey breast, 1 cup of steamed brown rice, six spears of fresh asparagus, 14 unsalted peanuts.

Afternoon Snack
Medium-sized banana, 12 almonds.

Dinner          
Six ounces of line-caught grilled salmon, 6 ounces of steamed cauliflower, one small white potato (boiled).

Evening Snack
0.75 cup of cottage cheese (preferably low-fat), two tablespoons of sesame seeds.

Tuesday

Breakfast
One scoop of whey isolate protein powder.

3 small low-fat turkey sausages, 0.5 cups of oats, one medium-sized grapefruit.

Morning Snack
One medium-sized orange, two tablespoons of linseeds.

Lunch
Five ounces of canned tuna, 1 cup of steamed brown rice, 6 ounces of steamed broccoli, one small white potato (boiled).

Afternoon Snack
Two large soft-boiled free-range eggs, one grapefruit, six raw carrot batons.

Dinner
Six ounces of haddock, 5 ounces of boiled broccoli, one cup of couscous, 2 ounces of grated hard cheese.

Evening Snack
One cup of low-fat Greek yogurt, two tablespoons of sesame seeds.

Chicken Protein Source

Wednesday

Breakfast
One scoop of whey isolate protein powder.

1.5 cups of low-fat cottage cheese, 1 cup of raspberries, 1 cup of oats, one small orange.

Morning Snack
One cup of low-fat Greek yogurt, one medium-sized green apple, two tablespoons of unsalted peanut butter.

Lunch
Seven ounces of grilled chicken breast, 1 cup of brown spaghetti, 0.75 cups of blended tomatoes to form a paste, 4 ounces of steamed broccoli.

Afternoon Snack
One medium-sized grapefruit, 16 unsalted peanuts.

Dinner          
Six ounces of grass-fed beefsteak, 6 ounces of boiled carrots, one medium-sized white potato (boiled), 1.5 ounces of grated hard cheese.

Evening Snack
Eight ounces of skimmed milk, one small green apple.

Thursday

Breakfast
One scoop of whey isolate protein powder.

1 large soft-boiled free-range egg, 1 cup of oats, 8 ounces of skimmed milk, 16 unsalted peanuts, 1 cup of washed red grapes.

Morning Snack
1.5 cups of low-fat Greek yogurt, 1 cup of blueberries, two tablespoons of almonds.

Lunch
Seven ounces of grilled chicken breast, one small white potato (boiled), 6 ounces of steamed zucchinis, 3 ounces of boiled carrots.

Afternoon Snack
Five ounces of canned tuna, two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, 0.5 cups of cottage cheese.

Dinner          
Six ounces of grilled turkey breast, 0.5 cups of boiled brown rice, 5 ounces of Brussels sprouts (steamed), one tablespoon of salsa.

Evening Snack
Eight ounces of skimmed milk, one satsuma.

Friday

Breakfast
One scoop of whey isolate protein powder.

Omelette made from the whites of 6 eggs, one small grapefruit, four celery sticks, 4 ounces of skimmed milk, one tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, one slice of wholemeal bread.

Morning Snack
Three ounces of canned tuna, one slice of wholemeal bread, one tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice.

Lunch
Six ounces of grilled chicken breast, 6 ounces of boiled cabbage, one tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, one slice of wholemeal bread.

Afternoon Snack
One cup of low-fat Greek yogurt, 1 cup of raspberries, two tablespoons of linseeds.

Dinner
Six ounces of grilled turkey breast, 0.5 cups of brown rice, 5 ounces of steamed carrots, two tablespoons of chia seeds.

Evening Snack
0.75 cups of low-fat Greek yogurt, one small pear.

Saturday

Breakfast
One scoop of whey isolate protein powder.

Omelette made from the whites of 6 eggs, 1.5 ounces of grated hard cheese, two slices of wholemeal bread, six raw carrot batons.

Morning Snack
One small banana, 14 unsalted peanuts.

Lunch
Five ounces of canned tuna, one slice of wholemeal bread, one large orange.

Afternoon Snack
1.5 cups of low-fat cottage cheese, one small baked white potato.

Dinner          
Six ounces of grilled chicken breast, 1 cup of garden peas, 6 ounces of steamed zucchini.

Evening Snack
Eight ounces of skimmed milk, four celery sticks.

Whey Protein Women

What Are the Best Supplements for Female Muscle Growth?

Supplements can take muscle growth to the next level.

Although remember, you still have to watch the diet and train hard—but scientifically proven supplements can enable you to make faster and more impressive muscle gains than through workouts alone.

Here are my 3 top choices of the best supplements for female muscle growth.

1. Whey Protein

What it is: Protein sourced from milk.
How much to take: 40 grams per day (adjust depending on dietary intake).
When to take: 20 grams, 30 minutes to one hour before your workout. Twenty grams, 30 minutes to one-hour post workout.

If you only take one supplement, whey protein should be at the top of your list.

The body cannot synthesize certain amino acids (known as essential amino acids)—they can only be taken in through your diet.

Whey contains all nine of these essential amino acids which are required for building muscle.

While it is possible to absorb them through your food intake—hitting the amount required for optimum muscle growth can prove expensive and inconvenient. Hence, these supplements make it simple. (30)

Not only can whey protein help to build muscle, but also research has shown it can assist with fat loss. (31)

Read about our recommended Whey Protein brand.

2. N.O. Boosters

What it is: Ingredients which boost nitric oxide levels, typically arginine and citrulline.
How much to take: Refer to your supplement’s instructions—it varies dependent
on ingredient dosage.
When to take: 30–45 minutes before commencing your workout.

Nitric oxide is a naturally occurring gas which acts as a vasodilator. That is, it opens up the blood vessels and therefore enhances blood flow. (32)

This means that delivery of oxygen and essential minerals to the muscles is optimized—resulting both in more efficient growth and an increase in stamina during the training session itself.

While the body does create its nitric oxide, it has to be continually replaced.

With a lifespan of a few seconds, once it’s completed its job of vasodilation it expires—and the body needs to create more. (33)

N.O. boosters act to stimulate the body’s own production of nitric oxide—meaning that oxygenated blood delivery to the muscles is as efficient as possible.

Read about our recommended N.O. booster.

3. Creatine

What it is: An organic compound which naturally occurs in the body.
How much to take: 3–5 grams.
When to take: 30 minutes before your workout.

When you undergo resistance training, there comes the point where your muscles cannot work any further—however much determination you have.

This is because muscle contraction is controlled by adenosine triphosphate (ATP).

Your body doesn’t have infinite stores of this compound—once used, fatigue sets in and the barbell will not move. (34)

Creatine helps to replenish ATP, allowing you to have longer sets without exhaustion which can cut your workout short. (35)

Learn more about the #1 rated Creatine brand.

Conclusion

Despite the myths that abound—female muscle growth is neither difficult nor will it turn you into a hulking masculine beast.

By following the above workouts, diets, and supplements, lean muscles can be obtained quickly and simply—leaving you with an all-over awesome-looking physique.

I hope that you have enjoyed this article. It’s important to know the results you can achieve with a little determination and direction—and it gives me pleasure knowing that I can help you along the way.

If you have any comments, please let me know in the section below. And, if you have found it helpful, why not share it to let others know how easy female muscle growth can be.

Categories Women

1 thought on “Female Muscle Growth – The Unrivaled Guide”

  1. Love this! I started working out and lifting weights last year and it’s definitely one of my favorite ways to train. I did NOT turn into a hulking she-beast, but I did get some nicely toned arms and a lot of mobility I would not have had otherwise.

    Weightlifting is also really good for sturdy or curvy women who may not feel like they can do much working out. I am a larger woman, with large thighs, and working out always discouraged me because I felt like my arms were completely puny – but I was even better than my bulky male counterpart at squats because my thigh muscles were strong, and that felt good.

    If you’re a lady who wants to get fit, start lifting weights! It’s a wonderful way to feel out what you need to work on, and what your strengths are.

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