Sometimes “just lose more fat” is not the answer, especially for women. It is much more important to build a healthy, fit and lean look. These tips were obtained from Sohee Lee.
1. Pull yourself out of a caloric deficit.
What many individuals – women in particular – may struggle to grasp is the fact that having more lean muscle mass actually makes you look better. It gives you the shapely curves that you’re going for – provided that it’s not covered by a thick layer of fat, of course. And consuming enough food will ensure that your body is provided with the energy it needs to build said muscle.
2. Consume sufficient protein.
Protein not only helps you build muscle, but it also helps retain it. When you strength train, protein requirements increase. Why? Because muscle protein breakdown rates increase, and you need to overcome that via dietary intervention. It makes sense, then, that if you want to build muscle (and you do want to build muscle), then you should be making protein a priority.
3. Start weight training for strength.
Remember: Muscle is good. Strength is good. When it comes to weight training, anywhere between two to four days a week is a solid starting point, depending on the individual. For most people, I’d recommend either a full body split or an upper/lower split. Doing so will allow for increased opportunity to work given muscles.
4. Give it time.
It’s easier to be impatient; we’re accustomed to instant gratification. I totally get it. But if you want to build a solid foundation of muscle and look more athletic (and leaner!) in the long term, you have to give it time. Building a physique takes time. It takes months and years of hard work and dedication. And if you’re too busy cutting calories left and right, you’re never going to give your body a fighting chance. In general, the longer you’ve been dieting, the longer you should be out of a caloric deficit.
Don’t forget to learn to enjoy the ride.
If you’re in this to make a long-term, lasting lifestyle change, then I encourage you to take the focus solely off the scale weight. Fitness is about so much more than how much you weigh.
Ladies in particular: I urge you to set performance goals in the gym. Shoot for one strict bodyweight pullup. Train for a powerlifting meet. Learn a new skill, such as how to double clean kettlebells. Doing so will allow you to feel truly empowered, and you’ll learn that true fitness success comes when you fall in love with the process and enjoy the ride.
There’s a lot to be said about consistency, both with training and with nutrition. Stick to the four basic principles outlined above and your body will be thanking you for many years to come.
Originally written: January 31, 2016