I prefer the term “muscle sculpting” since the objective, as the definition implies, is to “change the shape or contour of” the body; and it’s fitting because the human body is truly a work of art. Plus, I’m not gonna lie, it just sounds a lot better. Call it whatever you prefer, but this article contains workout tips for women who want to add sexy muscle in all the right places.
What are the “right places”? Generally (at least for my female clients) that means focusing on the shoulders, lats, thighs, and glutes. Not only do building up these muscles make for a nice strong, athletic looking physique, but they also make the waist line look smaller. It’s a little “illusion” trick. Think about it; if you add muscle to your shoulders, glutes, and thighs, and your waist stays the same, it will automatically look smaller. This is a win-win.
Let’s get into Part 1 of Muscle Sculpting Tips for Women Who Want to Sculpt Sexy Muscle and discuss the first five tips you can use to start sculpting some muscle.
First, Get Strong!
If you’re a beginner to the wonderful world of resistance training, your main focus should be on the basic exercises and getting stronger. A raw beginner is much better off focusing on a few compound exercises, mastering proper exercise technique, and getting stronger; I recommend the Beginner Program in the Train to Be Awesome Guide. As a beginner you should use lower reps and focus on constantly adding more weight to the bar, which will happen fairly quick for a beginner trainee.
As a beginner you won’t be able to use much weight for most exercises, and keeping the reps on the low end allows you to use more weight. For example, a beginner may be able to squat 75 pounds for five reps. But, if she was doing 12 reps she may only be able to use 35 pounds. The lower reps and heavier weight will provide a greater stimulus, lead to a more rapid increase in strength, and is much safer since your form is more likely to break down with higher reps.
Once you have a base level of strength, then you can get into some of the other muscle sculpting tips.
Pump up the Volume
A high volume routine is a great way to sculpt some sexy muscle. Specifically I like to focus on at least 30 reps per exercise while keeping rest periods between sets fairly short. For example, in Phase 1 of the Muscle Sculpting Program, you do 4×10 for the dumbbell bench press and one arm dumbbell row. I recommend leaving a few reps in the tank for each exercise and only resting about 30-45 seconds between both.
So it would look like this:
- Dumbbell bench press x 10 reps
- Rest 30 seconds
- 1 arm dumbbell row x 10 reps
- Rest 30 seconds
- Repeat until you complete 4 sets of each
Each time you repeat that workout, make sure you improve your performance. For example once more, in the 15 Week Muscle Sculpting Program, you would follow these progressions:
- Week 2: increase weight by about 5 pounds
- Week 3: perform an additional set (5×10)
- Week 4: increase weight by about 5 pounds and perform 5×10
With this progression you’re improving your performance every workout, thus you’ll constantly provide your body with a muscle sculpting stimulus.
Crank up the Intensity
This is the exact opposite of the tip above to Pump up the Volume. These two cannot be accomplished simultaneously.
When the goal is sculpting sexy muscle, I like to sandwich a high-intensity, low-volume training phase between phases of lower-intensity and higher-volume. Doing so allows you to reap the benefits of both high volume and high intensity training without getting burned out on either since you only do each for a period of four weeks (at least that’s how it’s set up in the Muscle Sculpting Program).
Furthermore, alternating phases of high volume and high intensity training provides a nice change of pace which is great for keeping things fresh and staving off boredom. If you’re bored, you won’t excited to train and probably won’t put in 100%. Using different training methods keeps you excited and motivated to keep working out hard since you’re not constantly doing the same thing over and over.
Using both high volume and high intensity is used very effectively in the Muscle Sculpting Program. There are three phases to the program: Phase 1 and Phase 3 are high volume, and Phase 2 is a high intensity phase.
Here’s how it looks in the program:
So weeks 1-5 are high volume and low intensity, then you jack up the intensity and scale the volume way back for weeks 6-10, and then it’s back to high(er) volume training for weeks 11-15.
For high intensity phases, that’s when I love to use training techniques like RPT (reverse pyramid training) and R/P (rest/pause). These techniques allow you to train with high intensity and low volume while reaping some great strength and muscle sculpting benefits. Both of these methods are used exclusively in Phase 2 of the 15 Week Muscle Sculpting Program.
I’ve discussed the RPT method in this article and rest/pause in this article if you want more information on both. If you’re in a plateau and looking for a way to bust out, then I recommend playing with the RPT and rest/pause methods. It’s a tough challenge that may be what you need to get the muscle sculpting results you’re after.
Use Isolation Exercises
There’s a time and place for isolation exercises, and they fit well in a muscle sculpting program. Just remember, when it comes to isolation exercises, you’ve gotta earn them first! Make sure you’re working hard on the big, basic, compound exercises before you get too carried away with isolation exercises. So if you want to improve the appearance of your shoulders, make sure you’re training the overhead press either with dumbbell or barbell presses, and then add isolation exercises like lateral raises. (Note – if your shoulders don’t tolerate overhead pressing, don’t do it!)
For my female clients who want to add some muscle to their physique I like to include isolation exercises specifically for the shoulders, glutes, and calves. That means a combination of overhead presses and lateral raises for the shoulders. And, as much as I love squats, deadlifts, and lunges, glute isolation exercises like single leg glute bridges, hip thrusts, and high rep back extensions can really take your glutes to the next booty-licious level. You’ll find this powerful combination in the Muscle Sculpting Program.
Don’t Wing It – Have a Plan
If you really want to change your physique and sculpt some sexy muscle, I highly recommend you follow a program and don’t just show up to the gym and wing it a few times per week. A program keeps you on track and you know what you have to do each and every time you show up to the gym.
If you want a detailed, motivating workout program that combines all of the muscle sculpting tips discussed above, and more, then check out the 15 Week Muscle Sculpting Program.
Here’s Part 2 with more Muscle Sculpting Tips you can apply to your workouts => Muscle Sculpting Workout Tips Part 2