How to Build Lean Muscle Without Looking Bulky

By Erica D'Arcangelo,

  Fitness    0

lean muscle

Building muscle can be tricky for women for two reasons. The first is that some women can end up looking bulky. The second is that it can be difficult to put on muscle at all. I’ve been working out for 3 years and have felt unable to put on any real muscle. I’ve wanted to put it on but want long lean muscles (or girl muscles, as I call them).

Here are some tips I’ve implemented that actually worked to put on the muscle I wanted without the bulky look:

Warm Up

When I’m trying to put on more lean muscle, I focus on lifting. However, it’s important that before you start, you get your heart rate up. To do this I’ll run on the treadmill for 10 minutes, bike or use another machine to warm up and raise my heart rate.

Do Compound Isolation Lifts

Compound Isolation Lifts will target one body part per day. For example on Monday do legs, Tuesday arms, Wednesday back and shoulders, and so on. I generally do arms on Mondays, legs and butt on Tuesdays, High Intensity Cardio on Wednesday, Spinning on Thursday, work with a personal trainer on specific areas on Friday and then work on shoulders and back throughout the weekend.

Lift to Failure

For about a year, when I lifted I did standard 10 to 12 to 15 reps. Because I have a long, thin build I was not putting on muscle. Over the last few weeks I started doing reps to failure. What does failure mean? It means that you lift until you “can’t do no g*dd%m more.” (I learned that from Mr. CT Fletcher in his Bodybuilding.com workout Arm Warfare.)

Now I generally lift in a different way than before. For example, instead of setting up 3-station sets consisting of 10-12-15 reps each I focus on one exercise like bicep curls and do 2 sets to failure (which is somewhere between 30 and 50 reps per set right now but I’m trying to build to 100 reps). Or on leg day I may do 3 sets of squats to failure but will add or take away 10 pounds on each set changing my weight.

Be Consistent

Another tip for adding lean muscle is to be consistent with your workouts. Generally I would work out for 5-6 days a week and take 1-2 rest days. Also split your rest days up and don’t take them together.

Diet, Diet, Diet

I’m the biggest culprit and cheater when it comes to the diet; the classic person who justifies my sugar cravings by going after “organic” cookies and “gluten free” pizza. With that said, keeping in a healthy diet is key to 50% or more of your fitness gains. What should you eat? No refined sugar (really just no sugar), no bread, no gluten and nothing processed. Focus on whole, organic foods. Things like brown rice, broccoli, chicken breasts, fish and other lean meats. Eating 5 times per day with meals consisting of 20 grams of protein is best. And be sure to fold in LOTS of leafy green vegetables.

Diet and exercise can require a certain amount of discipline (especially diet) but with the right setup it really works!

Find the Right Trainer

One of the best ways to get in shape is by finding the right trainer. What you want is someone who knows how to build custom workouts for you to get the results you want on your full body or on specific body parts. Meal planning is also another thing that your trainer can help you with.

Recently I was able to find a new company that is launching this month called WellSquad. They will match you up with a trainer in your area and you can even use their app to find a workout partner!

All of these put together can help you to get the results you are looking for and put on that amazing lean muscle!

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