To see muscle definition, you've got to focus on building muscle. And I know what you are thinking, as so many women believe this will happen. You will NOT look masculine or 'bulky'.
Yes, you'll shed some fat along the way, but building muscle is the key to that sculpted look. Besides, if you're not building, you're losing. Ladies, once you hit around 30, you start losing muscle mass as you age and as we enter into perimenopause and menopause it begins to decline rapidly, this is called Sarcopenia.
Alright, here's the lowdown on muscle building:
First off, you've gotta get into an anabolic state, hormonally speaking.
You need to get your hormone game in check, which I'll delve into in steps 2-6. But let's start with the basics.
Anabolism means growth, and the hormones that play a major role here are estrogen, insulin, growth hormone, and testosterone.
Now, these hormones can go out of whack due to various factors, like PCOS, hormonal birth control, perimenopause and beyond. So, it's essential to keep them in balance. Plus, these hormones work together in a complex dance, and if one's off, others might follow suit. For example, if your thyroid hormone is low, it can throw off your estrogen and testosterone levels. So, aim for a harmonious hormonal orchestra, especially the anabolic ones.
Step 2 - Calories are your friends
Your body needs calories to build muscle because it's a way to store energy. So, each day, your body requires a certain number of calories to function (your base metabolic rate), and the more you move, the more calories you need (total daily energy expenditure). If, for example, your TDEE is 2000 calories, you can either eat 2400 calories without much muscle-focused training and gain fat, or eat 2400 calories while training for muscle growth and gain muscle. And remember, protein is your muscle's best friend. When we gain muscle we lose the visceral fat, especially around our mid section. Eating enough quality protein helps with recovery and balances insulin levels. But don't forget about carbs and fats; they're important too, and the exact amount varies from person to person.
Additionally, your digestive system should be in tip-top shape to absorb all those nutrients properly. So, make sure you're eating enough fiber, and consider digestive enzymes and probiotics for a happy gut.
Step 3 - Get your beauty sleep
Your body does most of its repair and recovery during sleep, so if you're not sleeping well, you won't recover well. The ideal amount varies, but 8-9 hours per night is a good goal. Quality matters too, especially deep and REM sleep. Sleep is also a game-changer for your brain, helping you handle stress and make better choices, which is vital for working out and eating right.
Now, let's talk hormones. Insulin, for example, needs sleep to do its job properly. Testosterone peaks during REM sleep, and inadequate sleep can mess with it, leading to low energy and motivation. Growth hormone also comes into play during sleep, but only if you're sleeping well. If your cells don't recover and repair, all your hard work in the gym is in vain.
Step 4 - Balance that nervous system
Your nervous system is the traffic cop for signals between your brain and the rest of your body. It influences everything you do, from breathing to muscle contraction. One part of your nervous system, the Central Nervous System, regulates your activities, like movement and muscle contraction. The autonomic nervous system has two parts, sympathetic and parasympathetic, which handle fight-or-flight and rest-and-digest modes. You want to balance these states.
Stress activates your sympathetic nervous system, which is great for working out but not so good if it's on all the time. So, you need to consciously shift to a parasympathetic state. This can be done through various practices like deep breathing and relaxation. Chronic stress and high cortisol levels can lead to hormonal imbalances, and exacerbate the already rollercoaster state our hormones are in during Perimenopause, Menopause and Post Menopause which can hinder muscle building.
Step 5 - Cardiovascular Activity Is Important
Cardiovascular activity does wonders for your body. It strengthens your heart, improves brain function, and helps manage blood sugar, which is crucial for insulin sensitivity. It's also good for your digestive system, ensuring you eliminate toxins properly. However, the type and amount of cardio can vary from person to person. Generally, 2-4 sessions a week, around 20-30 minutes each, are a good starting point. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is excellent for building muscle, and SIT (Sprint Interval Training) is great to incorporate 1-2 times a week into your training schedule. It does not take long, for example running sprints or on the bike :15sec of push with :40sec of recovery while Steady State cardio is very beneficial to keep our cortisol levels in check. Steady state cardio and keeping your heart rate around 120-130 for 20-50 minutes depending on your current cardiovascular conditioning. Then increase 5 minutes every 2 weeks.
And don't forget to enjoy a leisurely walk; your body loves it.
Step 6 - Lift for hypertrophy
When it comes to lifting, there are three categories:
strength/power (1-6 reps),
hypertrophy (6-12 reps), and
strength endurance (12+ reps).
We're focusing on hypertrophy here because it's all about building muscle. Lift heavy weights for about 3-6 sets of 6-12 reps. But remember, you've got to progressively overload your muscles, so keep challenging them with more reps, intensity, or weight. This type of training helps your body use those carbs you're consuming, promoting insulin sensitivity. It also stimulates growth hormone and testosterone production, the key anabolic hormones. Aim for 3-4 lifting sessions a week, and don't forget to give those leg muscles some extra love; it can boost testosterone production.
So, there you have it. These steps are the building blocks to build muscle. And the more muscle you have, the easier it is to shed fat and reveal that toned physique.
If you are interested in learning more tired of working out with no results or not sure where to start and working one on one with me please contact me: email@example.com