I have a few different ways that I like to exercise to build muscle. One way is to use weights that are heavy enough that I have to really work to move them, but not so heavy that they break my form. I can concentrate on the muscle group and do a few reps at a time while either resting or doing something like ab work or push ups in between sets. The other way I like to exercise with weight is to pick a weight that is challenging, but that is light enough that I can do long sets, sometimes to exhaustion. The reason for breaking up the weights and reps is because it makes your muscles and body work differently so you can get great overall results. Basically speaking, when you use high weights and low reps you will increase more of your strength whereas lower weight and more reps help you build more endurance. Both are equally important so try to vary your workouts from heavy weights (that are difficult to lift but that don’t ruin your form or cause injury) for under ten reps and 3 sets. When using a lower (yet still challenging) weight you can do up to up to 16 reps and 2 sets. The amount of intensity that you put into your workout is going to help you increase your strength and endurance. The amount of protein and healthy foods you eat will help you gain muscle and lose fat.
Here are 5 of the Best Muscle Building Exercises for Women
Dumbbell Shoulder Press
Start with your shoulders bent at a 90 degree angle so they look like a goal post. Elbows are in line with shoulders and weights are being held up on either side above the head. Think about engaging the shoulders and upper back as you push the weights straight up until your elbows are almost locked. Bring the weights back down using strength to pull rather than just letting the weights fall. Engage those muscles! Repeat this movement with the amount of weight and reps that work for you.
No one will ever convince me that squats are not one of the best exercises of all time. I do so many squats over a week’s time all with weights and while it does take time, you definitely do see results! If you are not doing squats on a regular basis you may need to do them in front of a mirror to perfect your form. It can feel awkward at first and your balance will be tested. Here are some important tips for squats and as soon as you learn to incorporate them all together you will be on your way to a better butt and quads as well as incredible lower body strength. When you bend down, your knees bend only enough to reach parallel with the tips of your toes. The rest of the movement is in the butt being pushed backward while keeping your torso as straight as possible rather than leaning forward. As well the weight of your body is shifted to your heels as you press down with your feet and push them outward as if you are trying to rip a newspaper with the pressure. It is better to work on your form than it is to try and get as low as you can so practice form and balance and you will get stronger and lower as time goes on.
This is an easy and old exercise but it is still around because it works. Simply stand up straight with a slight bend in your knees. Suck in your belly and don’t stick your butt out too far (try to hold your body in a nice straight line from head to heels. Gripping the barbells one in each hand, hold them a little in front of and at the side of your thighs with a tiny bend in the elbow but a mostly straight arm. Palms and fingernails are facing toward the front. The biggest tip on this move is to keep your body very still while doing bicep curls. Do not swing your arms or your body in order to lift the weights up. Your biceps do all the work. If you can’t lift without breaking your form, go a little lighter. Now simply pull the weights up and out straight in front of you and keep going up forming an arc until the weights reach your shoulders. Your elbows stay by your sides the entire time. Pull down in a controlled movement until weights are back at the starting position at your thighs. Don’t let gravity pull the weight down for you, focus on the bicep muscles working to bring the weight both up and down each time.
These are very easy to do and you don’t need any weights at all! Put your hands on the edge of a weight bench or a chair at home. Your fingers will be facing forward. Your legs will be out in front of you with knees bent. Your arms will be strong and extended with a slight bend in the elbow supporting your body. Your butt will be barely touching the edge of the bench or chair but not resting on it. In a slow and controlled movement you will lower your butt as your elbows bend. Do not let your elbows move out away from your body and don’t let your your shoulders come up around your neck. Keep your spine long and straight and your shoulders pulled back and strong as you push and pull your body focusing on your triceps. When you come down, stop when your elbows are at a 90 degree angle and don’t go low enough to cause injury. If this feels easy for you, extend your legs out in front of you with knees almost straight to work your muscles harder.
Planks are a great exercise for your core strength and abs. Simply get on the floor (using a mat if you like) with your toes on the floor and your palms on the floor. Your entire body is long and straight as if you were going to do a push up, but you just hold this position as long as you can. Make sure your butt doesn’t come up or sag down, stay tight in your core. Physically pull the abs tight as you balance and hold the move. If you want to change it up you can also do the plank with your forearms on the mat, elbows in next to the body bent at a 90 degree angle. Practice this daily and try to beat your time until you can get over one minute, over two minutes, etc. Check out this incredible story about the man who holds the Guinness World’s Record for holding the longest plank for 8 hours! (Something to strive for in your goal setting!)
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What are your favorite workouts to build muscle?