Many women have specific concerns when it comes to building and maintaining a lean body. Strength training, which is essential to building lean muscle tissue, is an especially confusing territory. Most women want a lean body, but are concerned about bulking up. While it's true that men are more predisposed to building muscle bulk than women, the amount of muscle women put on with weight training depends largely on body type and exercise choices. The key to building a lean, fit body is to choose activities and build healthy habits that improve your fitness and match your goals.
Evaluate your weight and fitness goals. Use the body mass index, or BMI, to identify a healthy weight based on your height. If you need to lose weight, set a realistic timeline for reaching your goal based on weight loss of 1 to 2 lbs. per week.
Design your eating plan to support good health and a healthy weight. Even if you have some weight to lose, you don't necessarily need to set a calorie target. It really depends on what motivates you. Consider using healthier cooking methods, eating smaller portions, limiting added sugar, fat and processed foods and eating more high-fiber foods such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
Incorporate aerobic exercise into your daily routine. Weight-bearing exercises are especially important for women, as these activities help preserve and increase bone density, which is a primary factor in preventing osteoporosis. Good choices include walking, aerobic dancing and tennis. Choose activities that you enjoy and include them in your routine at least five times per week.
Perform weight-training exercises twice a week. Most women can avoid bulking up by lifting lighter weights more times. Choose a weight that tires your muscle within 12 to 15 repetitions, and continually increase resistance so you will continue to see muscle growth. Target muscles in your arms, chest, back and shoulders, as well as your abs, glutes and legs. Women who strength train typically increase muscle strength by 20 to 40 percent in just a few months' time.
Add yoga to your fitness program. Yoga stretches and strengthens muscles, lengthening muscles made tight by strength training and cardio. Yoga relieves muscle tension and soreness, reduces stress and gives your body a longer, leaner look. It also helps you improve your posture and balance and keeps your joints flexible and pliable.
- Consult a doctor before starting a weight-loss regimen, particularly if you have an injury or health condition.
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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.