Muscle building for women

Nancy Heijnis
24 February 2022
Reading time: 10 minutes

Muscle building for women

The internet is full of articles about muscle building for men. Muscle building for women is slightly less popular. Many women also think that strength training ensures a broad muscular body, but nothing could be further from the truth. Strength training creates beautiful feminine curves and you can shape your entire body. When you look at optimizing muscle growth, you have to think of the right combination of nutrition, training and lifestyle! Learn more about these topics in this muscle building for women blog!

Muscle building nutrition for women

Of course every body is different, but in practice it appears that the following distribution of macronutrients works well for women who want to build muscle mass: 40% carbohydrates, 30% proteins and 30% fats. In men it is often recommended to maintain a distribution of 50% carbohydrates, 30% proteins and 20% fats. As you can see, the number of fats is higher in the women. Women burn more fats and fewer carbohydrates compared to men. Also make sure you eat mostly slow carbohydrates and unsaturated fats.

Growing by eating

Without an energy surplus, your muscle mass will not increase. You can’t build a house without bricks, you can’t build muscle without food. So you should calculate how many calories you need per day. For maximum muscle growth, without gaining too much fat, eat between 200 to 500 calories above your calorie requirement per day. Do you notice after 2 weeks that you have not gained any weight? Then you should increase your calories slightly.

Also watch your micronutrients

Calories and macronutrients are important for building muscle mass, as are your water intake, vitamins and minerals (the so-called micronutrients). Your muscles are made up of more than 75% water, so it makes sense that you should drink enough water. Adults and children over 14 years old need about 1.5 to 2 liters of water per day. To get enough vitamins, we recommend eating at least 200 grams of vegetables and 2 pieces of fruit. In addition, take supplements such as multivitamins. Vitamins and minerals are necessary for overall health. A large part of this can be obtained from your diet or produced by the body itself. The exception to this is vitamin D, which you mainly absorb through sunlight. So take extra vitamin D in the winter months through a supplement. It ensures the absorption of calcium and phosphate from food that are necessary for our bones and teeth. In addition, vitamin D ensures proper functioning of the muscles!

Proteins for muscle building

Proteins are building blocks that ensure growth and repair of muscles. In addition, your organs also need proteins to function. When the requirements for your organs are up to standard, amino acids, the building materials from proteins, are used for muscle growth. When you do strength training, your muscles need protein to repair the small tears in your muscles. Women need slightly less protein than men because they burn less protein during a workout, but more fats.

To maximize muscle recovery, we recommend eating 1.6 grams to 1.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. That means that a 65-pound woman needs between 104 and 117 grams of protein per day. An 80-pound woman needs about 128 to 144 grams of protein.

The timing of your muscle building meals is also important if you want to build muscle mass. For example, take a protein-rich shake, protein bar or protein-rich meal for your strength training. During training, muscle damage occurs that must be repaired. With a pre-workout protein-rich meal, protein is already available at that time. Your body is also recovering while you sleep. A bowl of cottage cheese or other protein-rich late night snack is therefore very sensible!

Muscle building strength training for women

Have you ever heard of the term “supercompensation”? This is actually the basic principle of training theory. After a workout and a recovery period, your body wants to recover above its original level, so that you can handle a heavier workout next time. The training stimulus will therefore have to be at a challenging level to achieve the desired effect, but be careful that it is not too heavy. Build up your training level slowly by:

● Do more and more reps with the same weight

● Increase the number of sets

● Or increasing the weight

With the third option you can continue endlessly. For example, do 4 sets x 12 reps of each exercise. If you’ve completed all 4 sets of 12 reps with the same weight, then it’s time to increase your weight next workout! A fun scientific fact is that women are better able to do more reps (12-15-20 reps) than men. In addition, research shows that women are less fatigued building identity with isometric concentration. You hold the weight in one position. For example, think of a squat where you hold the squat position for a few seconds before coming back up.

But how hard should you train? You train at maximum strength if you take the weight that you can move a maximum of 1 time. If you want to get stronger you should be at 70% of your maximum intensity. That means if you can do one rep of a squat with 100 pounds, you should be training with 70 pounds (70% of 100 = 70 pounds).

Other factors that influence muscle building

In addition to a healthy diet and challenging workouts, there are other factors that women often don’t think about that do influence muscle building. We are now talking about stress, enough sleep and building a regular rhythm.


Stress is an absolute culprit for muscle building. We are not talking about short-term stress that you may have before an important presentation or exam, because this can ensure that you are in the right state to accelerate! But prolonged stress is counterproductive, because the stress hormone cortisol is released. Cortisol is produced by the adrenal glands and causes body processes to change. This breaks down muscle proteins, which are then converted into glucose. When you train, you will not immediately lose energy, but muscle growth will stagnate. In addition, cortisol inhibits the release of testosterone (the most important growth hormone for muscle building). Stress also disrupts your sleep, which is also necessary for muscle building.

Enough sleep for muscle building

Sufficient sleep has a positive effect on your immune system. A strong immune system is beneficial for recovery after training and therefore for your muscle building. When you are sleep deprived, it will cause higher inflammation values. Your body recognizes those muscle tears that arise during your training less well, so that you will recover less after your training.

Doing strength training will improve your sleep quality because you sleep more deeply. It is precisely in a deep sleep that physical recovery takes place. But how much sleep is enough? The American Academy of Sleep Medicine divides sleep into 3 stages: light sleep, rem sleep, and deep sleep. These phases are cyclical and last approximately 90 minutes. Sleep researchers recommend that elite athletes complete these cycles at least four times. That equates to 6.5 hours of sleep time. The next cycle through would result in 8 hours of sleep. You often read that most experts recommend 8 hours of sleep for maximum muscle building.

Building a steady rhythm

Our body has a fairly steady rhythm. That’s because the hormones work that way. In the morning you are awakened by cortisol and in the evening you fall asleep due to increased melatonin. An irregular rhythm can disrupt these processes in your body, which has an adverse effect on your body and muscle building. To ensure that all processes in your body run optimally, it is best to build up a fixed rhythm. Try to get up, go to bed and eat at the same time every day.

Conclusion muscle building for women:

Ensure a structured and healthy lifestyle with enough sleep, little stress and a fixed rhythm. In addition, supplement it with challenging workouts so that you continue to challenge your muscles to the maximum! A fun fact is that women are better able to cope with fatigue during a workout. For example, women can handle more repetitions per exercise and can better cope with fatigue in isometric exercises. Supportive with the right nutrition plan you will achieve maximum muscle building! For muscle building you eat 200 to 500 calories above your needs and for women a distribution of 40% carbohydrates, 30% fats and 30% proteins works best! This is because women burn more fats than carbohydrates.

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