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6 Ways You Can Build Muscle and Increase Strength

Not everyone wants to be skinny or lose weight when they work out with a Personal Trainer. One of my clients who is naturally lean and petite wants to feel stronger and build muscle tone to keep up her energy for her two young children, perform at a peak level without regular back pain as a nurse and look more toned. When you build muscle and strength, it not only improves the way you look in regard to tone and definition, it can also combat a number of health problems, including fatigue, depressed immunity, thyroid dysfunction, insomnia, osteoporosis, back and neck pain, arthritis and anxiety. Weight training in women over 40 particularly can increase spinal bone mineral density by 13% in 6 months which is the best defense against osteoporosis. A recent study showed that strengthening the lower back muscles had an 80% success rate in eliminating or alleviating lower back pain.

So why is it easier for some people to build muscle more than others? The reason you may find it difficult to build muscle is down to what body type you are, your diet and the types of resistance and weight bearing exercise you do. The 3 body types that are part of determining the ease or difficulty of gaining muscle are the Ectomorph body type which is classically long and lean that will find it more difficult to gain muscle but on the plus side will not put weight on easily, the Endomorph or pear-shaped body type which is naturally rounder and heavier will gain muscle more easily but on the downside also accumulates body fat quickly as well and the genetically blessed Mesomorphs who are the naturally athletic, solid and strong individuals that gain muscle easily and burn fat easily. So when determining the best diet and exercise, not everyone is the same. It really comes down to how you eat and how you train to get the best results for the body type you have.

Some of the key things I focus on with my client to reach their goals of building muscle and strength are to:

  1. Use Compound Strength exercises where you use many different muscle groups to perform an exercise. Because compound exercises utilize more of the larger muscle groups, they are more effective at facilitating muscle growth than single-joint isolation exercises. Compound exercises require more energy to perform. As a result you burn more calories during your weight training session and elevate your metabolism longer following your workout, for example Squat to Shoulder Press

  2. Do Circuit Training with light weights (2kg-3kg) where you perform 2-3 sets of each exercise for between 8-12 reps one after the other, without resting between exercises. After completing all of the exercises, rest 1-2 minutes and repeat the circuit 2-3 more times.

  3. Increase Dumbbell weight with less reps (4kg-6kg) eg 3 sets x 10 reps resting for 1 minute between each exercise

  4. Perform Dropsets – use the heaviest weight (6kg) for 8 reps of one exercise for example bicep curls for 3 sets. Drop the weight to 5kg and go again. Continue to reduce the weight to 4kg, 3kg, 2kg, always trying to complete the same number of 8 reps x 3 sets (even though you won’t be able to), until your muscles fail

  5. Eat enough of the right calories particularly low GI complex carbohydrates such as sweet potato, root vegetables, wholegrain and spelt pasta and breads and low fermentable carbohydrates like honey

  6. Increase your Protein from foods such as meat, fish, hard cheeses, tofu, beans, lentils, yogurt, eggs, nuts, and seeds

These are the best ways to build lean muscle and achieve your desired weight.

For more information on training with me Lifestylist Personal Training Services

Suzanne The Lifestylist

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