Many women seek to improve their fitness levels, partly for health reasons and partly for looks. When it comes to looking more toned this is achieved by building muscle tone and making those muscles much leaner.
But how is this achieved for women?
We all know that women’s bodies are different to men’s in many ways so how we build muscle is also a little different.
Generally, muscle tone improves when the muscle fibers become larger, which is often the result of constant weight training. A key aspect to remember is muscle can weigh more than fat so don’t be alarmed if the scale numbers increase.
Here are the top 5 ways for women to build lean muscle tone and improve their overall appearance.
1. Increased repetitions when weight training
Weight training is the best way to improve muscle tone and to overall build lean muscles. However, there is little benefit in rarely challenging yourself, as this does not provide enough of a challenge to the muscle fibers. Each time you are weight training you need to increase the number of repetitions that you are doing to stretch the muscles further.
An ideal workout would be a sensible weight but at six to twelve repetition sessions. However, if you are looking for lean muscle the key aspect is to not go above this limit. This is because you want to train your muscles for strength rather than stamina as it is strength that gives you the lean muscle tone.
2. Eat more protein
We should all aim for a balanced diet, which includes a healthy amount of protein whether we are working out or not. However, if you are looking to build lean muscle tone this becomes even more important. Protein is essentially the building blocks for muscles, so quite simply, the more you have the bigger you can build your muscles. Protein is also filling so can help you feel fuller for longer and reduce the cravings to snack between meals.
3. Reduce the amount of carbohydrates you eat
Carbohydrates are most commonly found in foods such as bread, pasta, and rice. Although they are also a necessary part of a healthy diet, if you are trying to build lean muscle tone you want to reduce the amount of carbohydrates you are consuming.
This is not to say cut them out completely; they are still an essential part of a healthy diet. Carbohydrates help the body release insulin, which is needed for energy and to help with muscle repair.
4. Eat more vegetables
Again, vegetables are a key part of a healthy diet and should be eaten every day whether you are working out or not. When you are trying to build lean muscle tone vegetables become even more important.
Vegetables generally contain very few calories and have a high thermic effect. This means they consume a lot of energy to eat, digest, and burn through again. This helps with building muscle tone, particularly if they are eaten raw or just slightly cooked.
5. Minimize the amount of cardio you do
Weight training to gain muscle is a very different type of exercise to cardio workouts and achieves different aims. If you are focusing on building lean muscle tone then you need to minimize the amount of cardio workouts you do.
The long distance running or cycling workouts are particularly the worst as they encourage muscle wastage. Rather than eliminate all cardio workouts, you will help build muscle tone by including very short bursts of high intensity runs or cycle workouts. However, this is the absolute maximum cardio that you should do, as it will not help with building muscle.