By Courtney LeVesque

Muscle, muscle, muscle – you have it, you don’t, you want more of it, you don’t know exactly how to build it, how many reps do you really need? There’s quite a bit of information and endless recommendations out there, but how do you build lean muscle, and maintain a strong and toned physique? Better yet, what are the benefits of strength training, and how can it help you smash goals – that’s what we really want to know. 

We touched on the topic of building lean muscle a bit in the article How To Avoid Skinny Fat, but there are so many ways weight training can benefit your health and physique – we want to map it out for you. 

Check out these perks to pumping iron:

  • Improves your overall work capacity so you don’t get burnt out with activities as easily.
  • Builds bone density, and works to prevent osteoporosis.
  • Boosts metabolism, and burns more calories throughout the day.
  • Helps maintain posture, support joints, and helps prevent injuries.
  • Promotes weight loss, and maintaining optimal body weight.
  • Increase daily energy and mental focus.
  • Helps build confidence – that’s a win.

These are some of the killer benefits to lifting weights, and adding resistance training into your regimen, and although they sound good, it can be difficult to figure out how and where to start. Not to mention, figure out how many reps and sets to do, how often, and what weight to use. Getting started in the gym, or with a home routine can be hard to do, and even harder to maintain. Follow the rules and guidelines below, and work your way to reaping the benefits of building and maintaining muscle.

#1 Less is more:

If you are just starting out or getting back into a consistent routine, start with the less is more theory. Add in 1-2 movements for each main muscle group, 15-18 reps, and 2-3 sets. Make your goal to hit each body part 2 times per week.

#2 Keep the weight low:

There will be plenty of time to bump up the weight, but for the first couple of weeks, keep the weight on the lower end and make sure you pay attention to form. Just like learning to walk when you were a youngster, your body is learning new movement patterns – do them correctly now to prevent injury in the future. Don’t go too heavy too soon.

#3 Add as you go:

After getting yourself into the new flow, and working through full range of motion movements you will become accustomed to those movements. Add in new lifts, and movements every week, and begin to increase the weights you’re using.

#4 Rep range:

If you want to build lean muscle and tone up aim for 18-20 reps of each movement, and perform each rep with a 4 count (a one, two “up”, and a one, two “down”). Going for the athletic and strong look? Go for 8-12 reps of each movement, use 4 count reps, and add in some burnout sets of 8 count reps (a 4 count on the way “up”, and a 4 count on the way “down”).

#5 Allow your body to recover:

As your new weight lifting routine starts to yield the results you are after it will be hard not to want to “do more”. Make sure you keep sight on recovery and try to allow 48 hours of rest in between each training day. For example, if you work legs on Monday, wait until Wednesday to do them again. There is an exception to this rule, though. If your workouts are more of a “total body” lifting routine, and not isolated to specific body parts (lower body/ upper body), then you can do them the following day. Just be sure to listen to how you are feeling, and be sure to focus on protein, and recovery to maximize results. Did you see my Top Supplement Picks? See it here to find out what I use.

Remember, if you want to enjoy the outdoors, increase your energy, and boots your confidence, getting into the gym and beginning a weight training program will help you do just that. Although it can be intimidating, and easy to get lost in knowing what and how to do things, getting started is a great place to be. 

Follow the guidelines above, and when in doubt ask. Wilderness Athlete is here to help you get on the fast track to your best health, and exceeding your fitness goals. Find out more about lifting programs specifically built for women by Her Inspired Fitness, or feel free to shoot us a message. 

An inch or a mile, progress is PROGRESS.

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