Everyone wants to lose weight; for females this is even more so. There is so much information available regarding weight loss, but what if you are at the other end of the spectrum? What if you are a woman who wants to gain some weight and build muscle? Yes, you heard that right! Some of us actually want to gain weight and bulk up. Where do you turn?
I have been on that end of the spectrum in search of a plan to help me gain weight and get ‘bigger.’ I found so much information on fat loss for women and muscle building for men, but not much for women who wanted to get bigger.
The information on muscle building I implemented that into my nutritional and workout program. Ladies the same basic rules do apply. It is my hope that sharing my experience will provide you with the necessary information you need to get started.
When I first started weight training, I assumed I was eating enough calories. We tend to ‘overestimate’ our daily caloric intake. I have found just as someone who wants to lose weight tends to ‘underestimate’ their daily calories, we tend to ‘overestimate’ our daily caloric intake.
One of the biggest hurdles to overcome is being honest with yourself about the number of calories you consume daily. Keep a food journal for several days to see what you are eating, the times you are eating, and this will show you the gaps in your daily meals. At the end of each day, add up your total calories.
Are you eating enough calories? The answer is usually, no. I bet you will be surprised at how you fall short for your daily caloric intake. With my own experience and with clients doing this for several days, it becomes obvious that the harsh reality is that the numbers don’t lie.
You also have to be honest with yourself and realize the only way you are going to grow and put on muscle is to eat. You need an abundance of clean calories throughout the day. As women we tend to be scared of carbohydrates and worried about getting fat, but you have to consume an adequate amount of proteins, carbohydrates and fats to build muscle.
Yes, you may gain a little fat, but you need this to put on muscle, you will never accomplish your goals if you don’t eat. Now that you are in reality and realize that you have been in a caloric deficit, the only way you will grow and build muscle is to be in a caloric surplus. Start to take the steps to increase your daily caloric intake slowly.
Begin by adding an additional 200-300 daily calories for a week. For example, if you are currently consuming 1,600 calories a day, increase it to 1,800 calories a day for a week. At the end of one week, reassess where you are at. Go slow increasing the calories; too quickly will result in unwanted body fat.
Shoot for a weight gain of 1-1½ pounds. 2 lbs being the maximum a week. You will be more satisfied with these results. I know it is a slow process, but in the long run you will be more satisfied.
As for myself once I realized I was in a caloric deficit wanting so badly to get bigger, I increased my calories too quickly and some of it was stored as fat. Don’t be scared of carbohydrates; this is where the additional 200-300 calories should come from.
Once you decide on how many calories you need on a daily basis you, must stick with it for a minimum of thirty days to see results. Don’t get frustrated or short change yourself; you must stick with the plan to see results.
Remember I was saying some of the basic rules apply for men and women wanting to get bigger? As you can now see, you need to eat enough clean calories to grow. Let’s take a look at your pre workout meal.
What does it include? I would suggest you include 20 grams of whey protein and some fast carbs such as a big bowl of cream of rice or a white bagel.
You will grow outside of the gym not in it. If you are an exercise junkie, I know it is hard to change your mindset, but more is not better. You will not get your dream body by being in the gym 5 days a week. As a hardgainer when I was in the gym less, the results came quicker. Depending on your schedule instead of training 5 days try 3 days, M,W,F.
My preference is 2 days on, 1 day off. This gives my body an adequate amount of rest and if you are truly training with intensity, it is really hard to go 5 days a week.
You may also want to limit or give up cardio for a while. I know this is not normally recommended, but I started to see more results when I eliminated my cardio all together. This will enable you will keep your hard earned muscle.
Spend no more than 60 minutes in the gym. Keep it intense, but brief! Eat, rest and you will grow. It may feel good to train more, but keep in mind your goals. Overtraining just won’t get you the results. After so many minutes, your glycogen stores diminish and you are no longer being productive.
At this point it is better to turn your attention to your post workout nutrition. Get that shake in you. Your post workout shake should include 20-40 grams of whey and some fast digesting carbohydrates such as a banana and some cream of rice. And within one hour of your post workout shake, I would recommend a solid meal including some slower digesting carbohydrates and protein. This could include some eggs and egg whites with oatmeal or chicken and a sweet potato.
Stick to the basics. As women we are determined to do the butt blaster and isolation exercises. Again, what’s your goal? No girly moves here! If you want to be BIG, you must do the basics squats, deadlifts, presses and lift heavy.
For extra calories before bed, drink a casein shake this will keep your muscles catabolic during the night. I would make up another casein shake and put it in the fridge so when I would get up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom, I would drink another shake! I also saw significant growth from doing this.
Remember what I said about keeping your weight in check 1-2 lbs a week. Once you have reached what you thought was your ‘ideal weight,’ you may want to keep going. I know for myself and others I have worked with, we have a magic number in our heads, but once we reach that we may not be satisfied.
My suggestion is toss that scale. You may want to keep going and the sky is the limit. Don’t be so focused on the number on the scale as how your body looks in the mirror, and how you feel. The mirror is one of the best indicators as to how you are doing.
Take a weekly assessment of yourself and then you can make the necessary caloric adjustments. If you are gaining body fat too quickly, decrease your caloric intake by 200 calories a day. If you are gaining too slowly add an additional 200 calories.
It is really a simple formula eat, rest and grow! We tend to make it more complicated. There is no better feeling than accomplishing your goals. It does not happen overnight, but you will see the changes in the mirror over time and smile.
Stick with it and stay focused and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. It’s really a simple formula. Stick to the basics!