To build serious muscles you have to eat a real healthy diet. You have to lift heavy and to use good form. I would check out bodybuilding.com for some help in this. Personally it's nice to see someone else besides me that wants this too. I do know that with weight lifting you have to challange yourself. I say this because a lady in my class is using the same weights she started out with 7 months ago. She has admitted that she doesn't want to go up in weight or see muscles.
Fitness Minutes: (1,285)
11/14/12 2:40 P
I would point out that even with testosterone it is very hard to bulk up! The diet has to be spot on and you need serious weight training/lifting...
Fitness Minutes: (97,762)
11/14/12 2:39 P
Lifting heavy weights to your maximum is really important for building strength in particular. A lot of people are afraid to do this; don't be. The worst thing that can happen if you pick up a weight and can't lift it is that you have to put the weight down. Now you know what your maximum is!
For cutting fat so your muscles are more visible, it's mostly about what you eat: low carb, high protein, low salt (you also don't want to retain water). And as Nausikaa said, avoid what others have called "chronic cardio" (an hour on the elliptical, for example). Very intense, short (20 minutes at the most) interval training is great.
The New Rules of Lifting books are good because they always have a bulk phase and a cutting phase. You will see a noticeable difference in your strength, muscularity, and appearance when you're done, if you follow the program and train 3x/week.
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1,073 11/14/12 12:58 P
I completely agree with the above. High protein, no cardio, power lifting at heavy weights to your max. It's pretty tough to bulk up and put muscle on, especially for women without "pharmaceutical enhancement".
Toning on the other hand, will also provide you with muscle definition, which will be more easily appreciated at a lower body fat percentage. Most gyms offer skin fold testing etc, so you can follow that along if that's your goal.
Fitness Minutes: (111,827)
11/14/12 12:51 P
Men are able to bulk up because of testosterone. Without some form of added steroids, women will NOT look like men. It doesn't mean we can't be strong.
I think "toning" is kind of a mamby-pamby label for what still should be strength training for women. Consider this book: The New Rules of Lifting for Women: Lift Like a Man, Look Like a Goddess by Lou Schuler, Cassandra Forsythe M.S., Alwyn Cosgrove
Check out NANCYANNE55...and she has a blog, "It All Makes a Difference."
also, I forgot to say - you probably shouldn't do cardio while bulking - you might want to ask some bodybuilders for advice on this. I personally don't do any cardio because I feel that it contributes to muscle wasting. However you may want to keep cardio for other reasons (enjoyment, other goals, retaining cardio fitness, etc).
PAN_MEI, it's not easy. The reason that all the articles say "...without bulking up" is that it is so difficult for us women to bulk up no matter what we do. Some of the really, really bulked women that you might see in photos have been pharmaceutically enhanced... but for those of us who aren't into using steroids, the reality is that it is a SLOW and arduous process.
Absolutely correct that your body fat % will have to be low for your muscle definition to be visible, however that is not part of bulking. Bulking is about increasing the fat and muscle tissue on your body through a calorie surplus (not too much - 200-300 calories over your burned daily!!), plenty of protein, and strength training. The generally accepted rep range for muscle bulking is 8 to 12 reps per set. (I consider that a "medium" rep range; if your goal is to build strength, you would be doing low reps, around 1-6 reps per set). I'm not saying you can't build some bulk with 1-6 reps per set but the accepted way, let's say, to get the best bulking results are with 8-12 reps.
You don't want to have huge expectations in terms of how much muscle you can actually gain. A few pounds/year is great!!! You will gain the most during the first year. In subsequent years it will drop off quite a lot and this can be frustrating. You will also put on some fat which is why many people follow a period of bulking with a period of "cutting" in which they practice a regimen designed to conserve muscle tissue while burning fat. It is not extremely difficult to do but it isn't perfect and you will usually lose a little muscle during the cutting phase. It's sort of a 3 steps forward, 1 step back type process.
Bear in mind that muscle bulk and muscle strength are *different goals.* It is quite possible to find non-bulky women who are much stronger than bulky women. This has to do with the type of training one does. For example, the use of the medium rep sets.
As far as what type of training you should do... many bodybuilders do a lot of what are called targeted exercises. So whereas a person focusing on strength might do dips for their triceps (a compound exercise that also involves chest and other muscles), a bulker might do tricep pushdowns which focus the triceps more and reduce the involvement of other muscles. Another example is the bench press. People who are going for strength will usually keep their feet flat on the ground and arch their backs a little while performing the bench press; bodybuilders usually put their feet up on the foot pad or on the end of the bench while performing the exercise -- the latter allows the lifter to focus on the pecs more, but the strength athlete will be able to lift a lot more weight.
Good luck! Set reasonable goals and have fun with it. And don't fall into the trap of eating 1000 extra calories because a lot of people do that and end up spending too much time cutting and end up in more of a 3 steps forward, 2.5 steps backward pattern!
One of the reasons it's so hard for women to appear bulky is b/c your body fat has to get to an incredibly low percentage for heavy muscle definition to start showing; this can be especially hard for women. So lots of cardio, lots of strength training, and lots of protein. Something I've never tried (it never interested me) but that seems to bulk up some women is Cross Fit so you may want to research that.
Everything I read on strength training for women is all "how to weight train without bulking up" or similar titles or goals. What about women (or just me) who WANT to bulk up? What do we do? (strong is beautiful!)