Complete training, diet and supplement guide! Build the body of your dreams! Includes a 12 week training, diet and supplementation program.

The primary concern women have when it comes to weight training is, "I don't want to get big or bulky." We are here to tell you that you won't!

Men vs. Women - What's the Difference?

Training

Studies have shown that men and women do not need to train differently. If you are a woman and want to gain muscle and improve your shape and curves, then you are going to have to lift heavy weights. This means that instead of doing endless reps with light weights, as the media often prescribes women to do, you need to lift some heavy weights and really challenge yourself! While performing high rep sets (15-20 reps) does have some benefit, it is not optimal to adding muscle mass.

Here is a very vague overview of rep ranges:

  • 1-5 reps = Strength
  • 6-12 = Hypertrophy
  • 12+ = Endurance

There is a lot of crossover of adaptations between rep ranges. For example, many people can grow muscles solely in the 1-5 rep range and 12+ rep range. But it gives you an idea of the weight you need to lift to grow; a weight that you can complete for at least 6 reps but not more than 12 reps.

The hormone testosterone is responsible for the large increases in muscle mass seen when men lift weights. Women's testosterone levels are a fraction of men's testosterone levels. Normal testosterone levels in men are 200-1200 ng/dl while 15-70 ng/dl are normal in women. As you can see, men's testosterone levels are significantly higher than women's. Even if a man is at the low end of the men's normal testosterone range (200 ng/dl), he still has more than twice the amount of testosterone as a woman at the high end of the women's normal testosterone range (70 ng/dl). If we look at the median or mid-range testosterone levels in men and women, men = 700 and women = 42.5. So on average, men have 16.47 times more testosterone than women! It is clear that women do not have the hormonal support (testosterone) to gain muscle mass like men. Therefore, the fear of becoming big and bulky and looking like Arnold Schwarzenegger with a ponytail is unwarranted.

Now you may be saying, "I have seen some women bodybuilders who are very muscular and look similar to men in their build." The real reason they look like that is they are most likely using exogenous testosterone injections and/or other anabolic steroids. When women use exogenous testosterone/steroids they may show signs of hair growth on the face and chest, increased muscle mass, a redistribution of body fat from a female pattern of storage to a male pattern of storage, deepening of the voice, and other effects. The point of saying this is that unless you are on exogenous testosterone or other anabolic steroids, you will not become big and bulky from lifting weights. This is not to say that you will not gain any muscle, you will, but you will not gain muscle like a man. Instead, you will become toned and shapely.

Related: Beyond Sets and Reps: A Look at Training Volume

Diet

Men and women do not need to train differently to see results, but what about diet? Should women eat differently than men? Not really.

Men's and women's metabolisms are very similar except that women burn a greater ratio of fat to carbs than men. This may be one of the reasons women do well on lower-carb diets. The main thing that needs to be adjusted is one's total caloric intake. Women need fewer calories than men because men have more muscle mass and less fat (relative to total bodyweight) than women. The amount of protein, carbs, and fat will be dictated by the number of calories one eats.

We have shown that women do not need to train or diet much differently than men. Then why do we always see women in the gym performing hours of cardio and lifting the lightest dumbbells in the gym for endless reps? This is most likely due to not being informed, or even misinformed (by the media), about how women should train. What about diet? One of the most common breakfast meals recommended to women is yogurt and a banana. Now there is nothing wrong with eating yogurt and banana, but where are the protein and essential fatty acids? If you are a woman trying to gain lean muscle, you will need to eat adequate protein and good fats (essential fatty acids). It is time to stop listening to the media and misinformed individuals and time to become educated and get results. In this article, we will go over some basic diet and training information and then direct you to where you can get diet and training help and direction!

Woman doing barbell back squats in gym.

5 Essential Exercises for Women

What is the most common thing you see women do in the gym? Cardio. And if they do lift weights they pick up a 5-pound dumbbell and do endless reps. As we have discussed, women need to lift heavy, challenging weights just like men in order to gain muscle. While machines do provide sufficient stimulation to gain muscle, nothing can beat free-weight/compound exercises. Now, we will go over a few free-weight and compound exercises that we will incorporate in the weight training presented.

1. Deadlifts

Deadlifts are a full-body exercise, meaning it stimulates just about every muscle in the body. Deadlifts hit the legs, back, traps, abs, obliques, etc. Deadlifts are a must for building a fully developed body. If you don't do them, you are selling your results short.

2. Squats

Squats are perhaps the most effective exercise you can do for overall leg development. Free-weight barbell squats are a compound exercise that hits the entire upper leg, quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes. Like deadlifts, if you don't squat you are selling yourself short. These are a must for sexy, toned legs.

3. Lunges

Lunges are great for targeting the glutes, hamstrings, and quadriceps. Lunges will help tighten up your legs and butt and give you the curves you want.

4. Pull Ups

Pull ups work the muscles of the back, biceps, and forearms. Most gyms have an assisted pull-up machine, so if you cannot do pull-ups with your body weight, this machine will allow you to do pull-ups with less than your body weight.

Related: Can't Do Pull Ups? Try These 3 Pull Up Progressions

5. Dips

Dips work the muscles of the chest, shoulders, and triceps. Dips are a great exercise for overall upper body development, especially the shoulders and triceps. Most gyms have an assisted dip machine, so if you cannot do dips with your body weight, this machine will allow you to do dips with less than your body weight.

12 Week Workout Program to Gain Sexy Muscle and Curves!

As we said before, women need to lift heavy, challenging weights in order to gain muscle. Lifting heavy weights will not cause women to get big and bulky like men because women produce a fraction of the testosterone that men do.

When women begin working out, their goals are to tone up and gain shape/curves, and following this program will accomplish just that! In this 12-week program, you will decrease the number of reps you complete and increase the load you lift as you progress. The number of sets per exercise stays the same, but the rep range changes.

Weeks 1-4

During weeks 1-4, you will be lifting in the 8-12 rep range. What this means is that you want to complete at least 8 reps but no more than 12 reps for each set. If you cannot complete 8 reps, then the weight is too heavy and you should decrease the load. If you can complete more than 12 reps, then the weight is too light and you should increase the load.

Monday - Upper Body Workout A

Exercise Sets Reps
Bench Press 3 8-12
Bent Over Row 3 8-12
Dumbbell Shoulder Press 3 8-12
Lying Tricep Extension 3 8-12
Barbell Curl or Dumbbell Curl 3 8-12

Tuesday - Lower Body & Abs Workout A

Exercise Sets Reps
Squat 3 8-12
Stiff Leg Deadlift 3 8-12
Leg Extension 3 8-12
Leg Curl 3 8-12
Standing Calf Raise 3 8-12
Lying Leg Raise 3 10-15
Swiss Ball Crunch 3 10-15

Thursday - Upper Body Workout B

Exercise Sets Reps
Dips 3 8-12
Pull Ups 3 8-12
Dumbbell Lateral Raise 3 8-12
Tricep Cable Pressdown 3 8-12
Cable Curl 3 8-12

Friday - Lower Body & Abs Workout B

Exercise Sets Reps
Deadlift 3 8-12
Leg Press 3 8-12
Lunges 3 8-12
Seated Calf Raise 3 8-12
Dumbbell Shrugs 3 8-12
Incline Crunch 3 10-15
Back Extension 3 10-15

Weeks 5-8

During weeks 5-8, you will be lifting in the 6-8 rep range. What this means is that you want to complete at least 6 reps but no more than 8 reps for each set. If you cannot complete 6 reps, then the weight is too heavy and you should decrease the load. If you can complete more than 8 reps, then the weight is too light and you should increase the load.

Monday - Upper Body Workout A

Exercise Sets Reps
Bench Press 3 6-8
Bent Over Row 3 6-8
Dumbbell Shoulder Press 3 6-8
Lying Tricep Extension 3 6-8
Barbell Curl or Dumbbell Curl 3 6-8

Tuesday - Lower Body & Abs Workout A

Exercise Sets Reps
Squat 3 6-8
Stiff Leg Deadlift 3 6-8
Leg Extension 3 6-8
Leg Curl 3 6-8
Standing Calf Raise 3 6-8
Lying Leg Raise 3 10-15
Swiss Ball Crunch 3 10-15

Thursday - Upper Body Workout B

Exercise Sets Reps
Dips 3 6-8
Pull Ups 3 6-8
Dumbbell Lateral Raise 3 6-8
Tricep Cable Pressdown 3 6-8
Cable Curl 3 6-8

Friday - Lower Body & Abs Workout B

Exercise Sets Reps
Deadlift 3 6-8
Leg Press 3 6-8
Lunges 3 6-8
Seated Calf Raise 3 6-8
Dumbbell Shrugs 3 6-8
Incline Crunch 3 10-15
Back Extension 3 10-15

Weeks 9-12

During weeks 9-12, you will be lifting in the 4-6 rep range. What this means is that you want to complete at least 4 reps but no more than 6 reps for each set. If you cannot complete 4 reps, then the weight is too heavy and you should decrease the load. If you can complete more than 6 reps, then the weight is too light and you should increase the load. This phase of the 12-week program is going to be very challenging and produce accelerated results.

Monday - Upper Body Workout A

Exercise Sets Reps
Bench Press 3 4-6
Bent Over Row 3 4-6
Dumbbell Shoulder Press 3 4-6
Lying Tricep Extension 3 4-6
Barbell Curl or Dumbbell Curl 3 4-6

Tuesday - Lower Body & Abs Workout A

Exercise Sets Reps
Squat 3 4-6
Stiff Leg Deadlift 3 4-6
Leg Extension 3 4-6
Leg Curl 3 4-6
Standing Calf Raise 3 4-6
Lying Leg Raise 3 10-15
Swiss Ball Crunch 3 10-15

Thursday - Upper Body Workout B

Exercise Sets Reps
Dips 3 4-6
Pull Ups 3 4-6
Dumbbell Lateral Raise 3 4-6
Tricep Cable Pressdown 3 4-6
Cable Curl 3 4-6

Friday - Lower Body & Abs Workout B

Exercise Sets Reps
Deadlift 3 4-6
Leg Press 3 4-6
Lunges 3 4-6
Seated Calf Raise 3 4-6
Dumbbell Shrugs 3 4-6
Incline Crunch 3 10-15
Back Extension 3 10-15

Workout Tips:

Form Over Ego!

We cannot stress enough how important it is to maintain strict form on all movements. This means stabilizing your body and contracting your abs so you isolate the primary intended muscles. For example, when doing a standing barbell curl, tighten your abs and do not rock or swing the weight. By tightening your abs, you stabilize your body and prevent momentum. This will also help condition your abs and save your lower back from injury.

Related: The Importance of Coaching Yourself on Major Lifts

Warm-Up Properly

You should perform 1-3 warm-up sets before working a given muscle group. For example, if you are going to bench press 85 lbs for your working sets then do a warm-up set with 45 lbs (just the bar) and then a set with 65 lbs before trying to bench press 85 lbs.

Rest, Don't Nap, Between Sets

We recommend 60-120 seconds of rest periods between sets. This allows your body to recover some of its expended ATP but is not so long that you lose the flow of the workout. Remember, the goal is to get in and out of the weight room in 30-45 minutes.

What if I Miss a Workout?

If you miss a workout, simply work your schedule so you get back on track. Do not skip a workout! You have three off days per week. If you miss Tuesday's workout then try to do it on Wednesday and then get back on your normal schedule.

You now have a complete 12-week workout program. Next, we are going to discuss a topic that will interest all women, why do trouble areas of fat exist?

Woman doing decline sit ups in gym.

Tricep, Thigh, and Booty Fat - Why "Trouble Areas" Exist

Most women have "trouble areas" or places on the body where the most fat is stored and is difficult to get rid of. In most women, these areas are primarily the thighs, glutes (butt), and in some women the triceps (back of the arms) and "love handles". After dieting to lose weight and tone up these trouble areas the last thing you want to do is regain excess fat. If you don't keep your diet clean and controlled you will gain fat, and it will most likely be in these trouble areas. We will go over why these trouble areas exist and then outline a plan to keep these trouble areas lean and sexy while adding lean mass.

Simply put, some areas in the body have more receptors that block fat breakdown than receptors that increase fat breakdown. In men, these areas are the lower abs and love handles. In women, they are the thighs and butt.

We will discuss the physiological factors controlling fat loss and then go over a stubborn-fat cardio protocol and then beneficial supplements for losing stubborn fat.

Stored Triglycerides - Body Fat We Want to LOSE

While all cells contain some fat, it is mainly stored in muscle (intramuscular triglycerides) and in adipose tissue (body fat). Adipose tissue is the body's main fat storage site and the fat we all want to lose.

Adipose tissue is divided into individual cells called adipocytes. These adipocytes hold stored triglyceride (1 glycerol molecule bonded to 3 fatty acids) droplets, which serve as a source of energy for the body. These droplets make up 95% of adipocytes' volume. In order for this storage of potential energy (60,000-100,000 kcal) to be used and to lose body fat (everyone's goal), it must be mobilized through lipolysis (the breakdown of triglycerides).

Lipolysis involves splitting the triglycerides into a glycerol molecule and 3 separate fatty acids (FFA). Once the fatty acids diffuse (exit) from the adipocytes, they bind to plasma albumin (a protein in the blood) in order to be transported to active tissues where they can be burned. In order to lose body fat, the fatty acids must be burned!

Transport of FFA to be Burned!

Blood flow is of prime importance to the transportation of FFA away from adipocytes and through the circulation to active tissues where they can be burned. This is especially important during exercise where energy requirements are heightened.

Low blood flow could cause the accumulation of FFA within adipose tissue resulting in less available FFA to be oxidized and a greater chance of FFA to be turned back into triglycerides. It has been found that the stubborn fat areas (thighs and butt) have poor blood flow. Therefore in order to get rid of stubborn fat, we must increase blood flow. What is the best way to increase blood flow? Exercise! In addition to this certain supplements can also increase blood flow (more on this later). Increasing blood flow throughout the body will assist in losing weight by transporting FFA to where they can be burned.

FFA Oxidation - Burning Body Fat

When the FFAs reach muscle tissue, they are transported into a muscle cell. Once in the muscle cell, the FFAs can re-esterify (rebind) with glycerol to form triglycerides to be stored in the muscle or bind with intramuscular proteins to be used for energy production in the mitochondria. In the mitochondria, the fatty acids undergo beta-oxidation, meaning they are burned for energy. We want the FFAs to be burned in the mitochondria. Increasing energy demands through exercise is the best way to accomplish but there are supplements that can help give you an extra boost.

Summary Thus Far:

  • Stubborn fat areas are caused by a high density of Alpah2 receptors and poor blood flow
  • Lipolysis must be increased in order for FFAs to be burned
  • Blood flow to adipose tissue and transportation of FFAs away from adipose tissue is vital to fat loss
  • FFAs must be BURNED to body fat loss to occur
  • Exercise is the best way to increase blood flow to adipose tissue, transportation of FFAs, and oxidation of FFAs

Knowing these facts allows us to choose supplements that will assist in burning stubborn fat. The next chapter will go over a cardio protocol that can help burn stubborn fat and then go over some supplements to help burn fat in stubborn areas.

Woman running up stairs outside.

Cardio for Stubborn Body Fat

We learned that NE/E activates the receptors that stimulate lipolysis (fat breakdown). Research shows that NE/E secretion increases with exercise intensity. In addition, as cardio duration increases fat utilization increases while carbohydrate utilization decreases. So we need to perform high-intensity cardio for a long duration of time to maximize fat burning. The only problem is one cannot maintain high-intensity cardio for a long duration. So how can we overcome this while maximizing fat loss? By doing the following: 10-15 minutes HIIT followed by 15-30 minutes of low-intensity cardio.

High-Intensity Interval Training or HIIT is training where you alternate between intervals of high-intensity and low-intensity exercise. An example would be sprinting all-out for 100 meters then walking for 100 meters then repeating. One cannot sprint at full intensity for a prolonged time because sprinting and any other form of high-intensity cardio utilizes the anaerobic energy systems, specifically the phosphocreatine system, which power short-term activity. After going all out, one must rest and give the Phosphocreatine system time to "recharge". Additionally, after sprinting all-out a couple of times you are going to start feeling fatigued. After 10 sprints you are pretty much worn out. While you might not be able to sprint at full speed anymore you can still walk and jog as the intensity is not as high as sprinting and others use the aerobic energy systems.

Knowing this we can set up a cardio program to maximize fat burning. We'll call this the Stubborn Fat Cardio Protocol:

  • 15 seconds all-out followed by 45 seconds of low-intensity cardio
  • Repeat 10-15 times.
  • 15-30 minutes of low-intensity cardio

This cardio could be done on the treadmill, elliptical, bike, running track, etc. We usually recommend the elliptical machine as it is low impact and easy to change speeds. We also recommend doing the Stubborn Fat Cardio Protocol separate from weight training, either first thing in the morning (if training in the evening) or on off days from the gym. To start, we recommend doing the Stubborn Fat Cardio Protocol 2-4 times per week.

In addition, you can perform low-intensity cardio post-workout or on off days if Stubborn Fat Cardio is done on weight training days. This is optional but will speed up fat loss. We recommend having at least one day a week completely off from all exercise.

Close up of woman's hands as she chops cilantro on a wooden cutting board.

General Diet Guidelines for Women

Before we get into the recommended diets for women trying to lose fat and gain lean muscle, let's go over some general diet guidelines.

Calorie Control

The biggest factor in a diet is calories in versus calories out; your total calories will determine if you lose or gain weight. Eating too many calories will lead to fat gain. But if you don't eat enough calories you will not gain lean muscle. Setting a target calorie intake and counting the number of calories you eat each day is vital to losing fat and gaining lean muscle.

Macronutrient Manipulation

While your total caloric intake is the most important diet factor, the ratio of protein to carbs to fat can dictate whether the weight you gain/lose is muscle or fat. A diet that contains 80% of calories from carbs, 10% from protein, and 10% from fat will produce different results than a diet containing 40% of calories from carbs, 40% from protein, and 20% from fat.

Related: How To Determine Your Daily Calorie And Macronutrient Intake Levels

Stay Hydrated

You should drink plenty of water every day. Try to drink at least eight glasses (or 64 oz.) of water per day. The benefits drinking water provides are optimal hydration as well as a feeling of "fullness" without added calories. Sometimes people will mistake thirst for hunger. Because of this, staying hydrated can also prevent overeating.

Quality Control

Choose fresh, wholesome foods over pre-packaged, processed foods. Packaged foods are loaded with preservatives, especially sodium and saturated fats, and often have high amounts of sugars, such as high fructose corn syrup. You will be amazed at how fast you can lose fat just by packing meals from home rather than purchasing fast food or packaged foods. You also will save a lot of money!

Insulin Control

Insulin is the "storage" hormone. When it is secreted fat burning is blunted. By controlling insulin secretion by choosing low GI carbs you can decrease fat gain/increase fat loss. Stable blood sugar levels also improve energy levels and one’s mood. All of our diets as based around insulin control, leading to leaner muscle gains with little to no fat gain.

Adequate Protein

In order to gain lean muscle, you need to eat enough protein to sustain the creation of new muscle proteins. You may not be used to eating the amount of protein our prescribed diet recommends, but once you get into the groove you should not have any problems and will enjoy how full and satisfied you feel.

Essential Fats

Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are vital to the proper functioning of your body. Dietary fats got a bad rap due to the diet fads of the ‘80s and ‘90s, which promoted eating as little fat as possible, but in reality, EFAs are needed by the body and are part of a healthy diet. Eating fats does not equate to getting fat. In fact, most EFAs help support the fat-burning process and maintaining a lean body. Do not be scared to eat good fats. EFAs are not the enemy.

Women do not need to diet much differently than men. One metabolic difference between men and women is women burn a greater ratio of fat to carbs than men, which is the reason why women tend to do very well on a low-carb diet. Due to this fact we recommend, women follow a low-carb (not no carb) diet to lose fat and gain lean muscle.

Recommended Supplements for Women

If you do not have the energy and drive to lift harder and heavier each workout, then you will not grow.

If you leave protein breakdown levels unchecked and allow muscle breakdown to occur during a workout then you will not grow.

Without proper workout nutrition you will not grow and progress and the rate you could with sufficient diet and supplement strategies. Scivation has taken the guesswork out of workout nutrition and created a supplement combo that will increase your energy and performance, delay fatigue, and decrease protein breakdown while increasing protein synthesis (the key to muscle growth). It's time to start taking your workout nutrition (pre and during workout) seriously.

BCAAs

The goal of weight training is to increase protein synthesis. In order to gain muscle mass, protein turnover (protein turnover = protein synthesis - protein breakdown) must be positive. An increase in protein synthesis from weight training can lead to an increase in muscle mass. If we are increasing protein breakdown during training, we are decreasing the training session's overall anabolic effect and limiting muscle growth.

BCAA supplementation has been shown to not only increase protein synthesis but also to decrease protein breakdown. By supplementing with Xtend during your workouts you are creating an ideal environment for muscle growth.

What all this means is ingesting BCAA primes your body for growth by increasing protein synthesis and energy production in muscle. All of these actions are beneficial to an athlete and should not be overlooked. There is endless research backing BCAA supplementation as part of one's workout nutrition. In addition, the citrulline malate found in Xtend increases ATP/energy production, delays fatigue, and increases blood flow.

Xtend was formulated to give the body what it needs during exercise. As you exercise, the body increases the demand for various nutrients and if the body is not fed those nutrients, it must obtain them from other sources (i.e. breakdown of skeletal muscle to obtain amino acids). Both BCAA and glutamine oxidation/demand is increased during exercise. In order to meet this increased demand for BCAA and Glutamine, the body breaks down muscle protein.

By supplementing with Xtend during your workouts there is no need to use those sugary sports drinks in order to recover. Xtend allows you to recover more quickly without adding calories and sugar that can lead to fat gain.

Protein

Absolutely ridiculous! This is what I thought aloud while reading a popular diet book for women. It was appalling. Yogurt, cereal, coffee, and a glass of juice for breakfast. Where the heck is the protein!? Sure, yogurt has some, but not enough to sustain the energy, satiation, and nutrition that an active woman needs. It is time to set the record straight. We need to take these old-school, fairy tale diets and trash them! Just as we burned our bras in the ‘60s for equal rights, let's burn our old diet books and get with the program-women NEED protein!

Unfortunately, protein is a nutrient often downplayed when it comes to women's diets. For some reason, many people seem to think women don't need to emphasize protein in their diets, but I am here to tell you that we do. Protein is made up of amino acids, the building blocks of many tissues in the body, including muscle. Certain amino acids are "essential", which means the body cannot make them and they must be obtained through your diet.

When you work out, you break down muscle tissue. In order to repair that muscle tissue, gain lean mass, and become stronger, you must give the body protein to supply the amino acids needed for recovery. If you do not get enough protein in your diet, your body will not have enough amino acids, specifically essential amino acids, to work properly and recovery from workouts. Where will it get these amino acids you are lacking? That's right, from muscle tissue! All that hard work will be wasted!

In addition to being required to recover from workouts, protein and amino acids are important for many reasons, such as:

Now that we know why protein is so important, let's find out how much protein a woman needs.

The recommended daily allowance of protein for sedentary adults is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight (0.8g/kg) or 0.36 grams per pound of body weight (0.36g/lb). One should note that the recommended protein ratio is the same for both men and women. But what about active women, do they need more protein than sedentary women? The answer is a resounding YES.

The International Society of Sports Nutrition's recently released its current stand on protein intake:

  • Vast research supports the contention that individuals engaged in regular exercise training require more dietary protein than sedentary individuals.
  • Protein intakes of 1.4 - 2.0 g/kg/day for physically active individuals are not only safe but may improve the training adaptations to exercise training.
  • When part of a balanced, nutrient-dense diet, protein intakes at this level are not detrimental to kidney function or bone metabolism in healthy, active persons.
  • While it is possible for physically active individuals to obtain their daily protein requirements through a varied, regular diet, supplemental protein in various forms is a practical way of ensuring adequate and quality protein intake for athletes.
  • Different types and quality of protein can affect amino acid bioavailability following protein supplementation. The superiority of one protein type over another in terms of optimizing recovery and/or training adaptations remains to be convincingly demonstrated.
  • Appropriately timed protein intake is an important component of an overall exercise training program, essential for proper recovery, immune function, and the growth and maintenance of lean body mass.
  • Under certain circumstances, specific amino acid supplements, such as branched-chain amino acids (BCAA's), may improve exercise performance and recovery from exercise." (Campbell et al, 2007)

From this, we see that active women would benefit from consuming 2 grams/kg of body weight, which is about 1 gram/lb of body weight. For a 150 lb woman, this means that she needs 150 grams of protein per day. Ideally, your protein should be spaced out throughout the day. If you eat five meals a day, this would be 30 grams of protein per meal (continuing with the example above).

So let's put this number into action and outline an example diet. I will just list the proteins and not the carbs and fats because they will vary depending on your diet and goals.

Good Protein Sources

  • Eggs and Eggs Whites
  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Lean Beef
  • Fish (tuna, tilapia, salmon, mahi-mahi, halibut)
  • Protein Powders such asXtend Pro Whey Isolate by Scivation.
  • Tofu

There is no reason why you cannot hit your protein needs daily! With a high-quality protein powder, it is delicious and easy to whip up a fast shake and satisfy that sweet tooth at the same time.

If you want to progress in the gym and reach your goals for the body of your dreams, eat your protein, and don't let anyone tell you that women don't need to eat protein!

Related: 43 High-Protein Recipes That Anyone Can Cook

Woman doing tricep dips outside in park.

Putting Together a Complete Diet & Workout Plan for Women

We have gone over a lot of information. To make things easy for you we will outline a couple of sample workout and supplement schedules.

Schedule #1

Weekly Workout Schedule: 

  • Monday - Stubborn Fat Cardio (AM), Weight Training (PM) 
  • Tuesday - Stubborn Fat Cardio (AM), Weight Training (PM)
  • Wednesday - Rest Day
  • Thursday - Stubborn Fat Cardio (AM), Weight Training (PM)
  • Friday - Stubborn Fat Cardio (AM), Weight Training (PM)
  • Saturday - Rest Day
  • Sunday - Rest Day

Note: Low-intensity cardio can be done post-weight training or on your off days when you don't do the Stubborn Fat Cardio Protocol.

Daily Schedule (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday):

  • 6 AM - Wake up
  • 6:30 AM - Stubborn Fat Cardio w/ 2-4 scoops of Xtend during cardio
  • 7 AM - Meal 1
  • 11 AM - Meal 2
  • 3 PM - Meal 3
  • 4:45 PM - 1-2 Scoops Xtend
  • 5 PM - Weight Training w/ 2-6 scoops of Xtend during workout
  • 6 PM - Meal 4
  • 9 PM - Meal 5

Schedule #2

Weekly Workout Schedule: 

  • Monday - Stubborn Fat Cardio (AM), Weight Training (PM)
  • Tuesday - Rest Day
  • Wednesday - Stubborn Fat Cardio (AM), Weight Training (PM)
  • Thursday - Rest Day
  • Friday - Stubborn Fat Cardio (AM), Weight Training (PM)
  • Saturday - Stubborn Fat Cardio (AM), Weight Training (PM)
  • Sunday - Rest Day

Note: Low-intensity cardio can be done post-weight training or on your off days when you don't do the Stubborn Fat Cardio Protocol.

Daily Schedule (Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday):

  • 6 AM - Wake up
  • 6:30 AM - Stubborn Fat Cardio w/ 2-4 scoops of Xtend during cardio
  • 7 AM - Meal 1
  • 11 AM - Meal 2
  • 3 PM - Meal 3
  • 4:45 PM - 1-2 Scoops Xtend
  • 5 PM - Weight Training w/ 2-6 scoops of Xtend during workout
  • 6 PM - Meal 4
  • 9 PM - Meal 5

Schedule #3

Weekly Workout Schedule:

  • Monday - Weight Training
  • Tuesday - Weight Training
  • Wednesday - Stubborn Fat Cardio
  • Thursday - Weight Training
  • Friday - Weight Training
  • Saturday - Stubborn Fat Cardio
  • Sunday - Rest Day

Note: Low-intensity cardio can be done post-weight training or on your off days when you don't do the Stubborn Fat Cardio Protocol.

Daily Schedule:

  • 6 AM - Wake up
  • 6:30 AM - Workout w/ 2-4 scoops of Xtend during
  • 8 AM - Meal 1
  • 11 AM - Meal 2
  • 2 PM - Meal 3
  • 5 PM - Meal 4
  • 8 PM - Meal 5

Schedule #4

Weekly Workout Schedule:

  • Monday - Weight Training
  • Tuesday - Stubborn Fat Cardio
  • Wednesday - Weight Training
  • Thursday - Stubborn Fat Cardio
  • Friday - Weight Training
  • Saturday - Weight Training
  • Sunday - Rest Day

Note: Low-intensity cardio can be done post-weight training or on your off days when you don't do the Stubborn Fat Cardio Protocol.

Daily Schedule (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday):

  • 6 AM - Wake up
  • 6:30 AM - Workout w/ 2-4 scoops of Xtend during
  • 8 AM - Meal 1
  • 11 AM - Meal 2
  • 2 PM - Meal 3
  • 5 PM - Meal 4
  • 8 PM - Meal 5

Conclusion and Summary

We have gone over a lot of information and hopefully helped you understand the way women need to diet and train in order to gain lean muscle and lose fat. To make things easy, we will now summarize the main points of this Women's Bible.

  1. Women will not get big and bulky from lifting weights, but instead lose fat and gain lean, toned muscles.
  2. Women should lift weights just like men.
  3. Women do not need to diet differently than men but need to calculate their needed caloric intake based on their weight.
  4. Women burn a greater ratio of fat to carbs than men and tend to do well on low-carb diets.
  5. Calorie control, macronutrient manipulation, staying hydrated, eating quality foods, insulin control, eating adequate protein, and essential fats are all vital to a healthy diet and gaining lean muscle.
  6. Stubborn fat areas are caused by a high density of Alpha2 receptors and poor blood flow.
  7. Lipolysis must be increased in order for FFAs to be burned
  8. Blood flow to adipose tissue and transportation of FFAs away from adipose tissue is vital to fat loss.
  9. FFAs must be burned for body fat loss to occur.
  10. Exercise is the best way to increase blood flow to adipose tissue, transportation of FFAs, and oxidation of FFAs.
  11. The Stubborn Fat Cardio and Supplement Protocols are great ways to get rid of stubborn fat.
  12. Consistency is the key
137 Comments
Dominique
Posted on: Sat, 06/19/2021 - 10:39

When you complete the 12 week program, do u start over from the beginning?

Abigail_M&S
Posted on: Mon, 06/21/2021 - 10:08

Hey Dominique - yes, you can repeat the program if you enjoyed it. If you're looking to switch things up, you can move on to another program.

Akdam Mubarrok
Posted on: Thu, 06/03/2021 - 16:41

Amazing wow

Glenn
Posted on: Fri, 08/24/2018 - 20:16

My wife has health issues. Pcos and andrgone high. Would this be good for her? Also how do you adjust the eating of you work nights? 12 hour shifts with an hour drive home and to work? 8pm til 8am.

Aida
Posted on: Fri, 09/02/2016 - 01:51

Hi, i have been working out for about 2 months. I found that i am losing weight and losing my breast size at the same time. How to lose weight without losing breast size? Should i take supplement? Did you have any suggestion on which supplement should i consume in order to build my chest.

Kaitlin
Posted on: Thu, 01/08/2015 - 11:49

I was wondering meal wise what a girl should do if she would like to gain weight. I weight 115-118 right now and I am 5'9". I am trying to bulk up but do it healthy and not sure what steps i need to take.

merrisa_n
Posted on: Tue, 10/28/2014 - 12:01

Hi I was wondering how I could find the right diet plan for me? Im very small somewhere around 101-105 pounds?

TONI
Posted on: Mon, 07/28/2014 - 15:57

I'm starting this workout today, but I was wondering what do I do after I finish the 12 week program?

Kathy
Posted on: Sat, 07/26/2014 - 01:33

I'm heading back to the gym after 12 yrs. I spent 5 years on Tamoxifen due with my 1st brush with breast cancer, only to have it return a few years ago. After a latissimus dorsi reconstruction and the 9 operations that followed, my muscles ( thanks to tamoxifen ) are like jelly. I've been told I can't do anything about it . I'd like to prove the doctors wrong ! Do you know of others that have succeeded and are supplements recommended safe ?

Louiss
Posted on: Sun, 07/20/2014 - 18:00

I'm 41 and I train 3-4 times a week. Doing weights and CV. But I'm finding It very hard to gain any muscle. I know age is a big factor. I'm also a busy mum of 3 children, 16 years, 3 years and 19 months. What can I do to help???

Jana
Posted on: Wed, 06/18/2014 - 10:49

I love this article but it doesn't really tell what supplements to get. I am 47 years old, have weight trained in the past and need to get back in shape. What should I get and where can I purchase these products?

anniepy
Posted on: Thu, 05/08/2014 - 05:48

hi my question is how can i tone up my fat thighs? thiz has been my problem for a while and its making me feel insecure.. what workouts do i need to do at home

Cez
Posted on: Mon, 04/07/2014 - 22:07

Hi. I'm actually slim and my tummy is flat but
my abs are not obvious. They said, you have to
do a lot of cardio to burn all they belly fat. Thats
the only way to show your abs. I did insanity workout
but I lost a lot of weight. I want to have a nice abs, but
I want to increase my glutes at the same time, or gain some muscle.
I think I'm achieving two opposite goals. Do I need to
focus on one goal first? Or I can do them both?
What workout routine and diet should I do?

Thank you! I will really appreciate your reply.

Dawn
Posted on: Sun, 03/23/2014 - 12:19

GREAT ARTICLE!

Melissa
Posted on: Sat, 03/22/2014 - 10:41

What does one do after they have completed the 12 weeks? Increase the weight again or continue lifting the weight used in the last 4 weeks of the program?

Bree
Posted on: Tue, 03/18/2014 - 20:05

What is Trimfat?

Rana
Posted on: Wed, 01/29/2014 - 08:36

This is all really great information.. Love it, Thanks

tanya
Posted on: Fri, 01/17/2014 - 01:49

In the diet plan you mentioned taking "trimfat" at 6am. Where can I purchase ?

L
Posted on: Thu, 12/26/2013 - 22:43

I am also interested in a meal plan. I need to know exactly what and when to eat. I workout 5 days per week.

Bianca
Posted on: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 15:10

Amazing!!!

Bianca
Posted on: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 14:51

Amazing article!! Do u sell a book or magazine??!

Rebecca
Posted on: Wed, 09/18/2013 - 19:05

I leave my house at 6:15 am, start work at 7:00 am, have a 1 hour break at 12 noon, get off at 3:30 pm. Would be able to start weight lifting earliest at 4:15 pm. This is Mon-Fri. What kind of schedule would you recommend for me?

Rebecca
Posted on: Wed, 09/18/2013 - 16:55

I have to be out of the house by 6am mon-fri, do you suggest that I just follow the plan according to the time I wake

Ashley
Posted on: Mon, 08/26/2013 - 08:09

I'm 22 years old looking to put on some muscle, but I have a metabolism that no matter what I eat I can't get any gains. I've tried creatine but it gives killer stomach pains. I could really use some help with maybe a diet plan and supplements.

Daniela Stoddert
Posted on: Wed, 07/10/2013 - 14:17

Steveeeeee can I ask you a question ? I need help with my meal plan

Jackee Edman
Posted on: Sun, 06/30/2013 - 10:18

Hi, I used to be a bodybuilder, my last compition was 15 years ago. I have gain a lot of body fat and want to start bodybuilding agian. I am currently 93kg :( Please help !!!

Dumbee1018
Posted on: Wed, 06/19/2013 - 10:41

I just had my body fat analysis done at my workplace. I am 31 female from India, 153 cm and weigh 49kg. They said my body fat pc was at 35% which is obese. I am a runner and eventhough i finish races at a fairly good time, i feel bulky while running. I want to build lean muscle mass. I am a vegetarian, what diet plan can u suggest for me.

Gib
Posted on: Fri, 05/24/2013 - 07:18

I second Joy's request for some information on training for menopausal women. It seems no one wants to touch this area, but there are a lot of us out there (even in our 30's and 40's) who want to continue to build muscle and shape our bodies. No, it probably won't be a one size fits all approach, but those of us out here wondering what we need to do in the weight room and with our nutrition sure would appreciate some assistance.

Have you had any success training menopausal women? Are the training protocols modified in any way or do you use the same basic approach and tweak it as you go? If so, how long do you go before you decide to tweak it?

Thanks!

Darieli
Posted on: Wed, 05/22/2013 - 20:56

Hello Steve could you please tell me what the differences between this workout and "The Super Toning Training Routine" are?

Samirah
Posted on: Mon, 05/20/2013 - 14:46

I have a question about the trimfat is that a supplement that burns fat? I ask because I see where you have the stack but I did not see the actual trimfat include so I was not sure what I should be getting

CC
Posted on: Sun, 05/12/2013 - 21:18

This article is pretty awesome take it with you and use it when u r in school so u don't get FAT "AF"!!!!lol

Judy
Posted on: Sun, 04/28/2013 - 10:34

What if I can not go work out in mornings and can go in the evenings..
Can I do cardio along with the pm workouts? And how long do I do the cardio for if so...

Tippy
Posted on: Sat, 04/27/2013 - 18:43

Thanku so much for the information. The understanding of the connection between the blood flow and the disposal of fat is right on. I am headed into the menopause....I try to have a protein shake every morning. Lately, due to my age,,,I have had abit of trouble with forearm tendonitis. I also play tennis, so I need to rest it abit. Now I lift about every other day. I do 12 reps usually. I am seeing a tone in my core that I did not have in my younger years! This is due to lessening the carbs and increasing the protein, which also cuts my appetite. My skin is in great shape to due bio identical hormones....progesterone....so your readers might want to consider that. Your info is impressive. Thanks again!!!:)

Genet
Posted on: Tue, 04/16/2013 - 06:56

I am not very fantastic with English but I get hold this very easygoing to understand .

Gail
Posted on: Sun, 04/07/2013 - 13:12

I am starting week 9 tomorrow and I can see such a big difference in my body especially the upper part! I was wondering if you could give me direction as to when I'm finished my 12 weeks. I want to keep going of course!

Deborah
Posted on: Sat, 04/06/2013 - 11:39

Good article. Thanks for advising women to lift heavier weights. I am often the only woman in the free weight area. I realize that I may not be progressing as much as I would like is that I am doing too many reps, and have been for some time. Typically 3 sets 10, with almost as heavy weight as I can. (Flys typically 30-40 lbs each arm.) I have been stuck for several months. I just started a 5 x 5 program, doing heavier weights, so sometimes I can only do 3 reps. How many days should I rest? More than 48 hours? Also, any suggestions for bulking the muscles around and on top of my knee. As I get older, I want to fill that area. My legs are pretty strong and I can out press many of the guys in the gym.

Jessica
Posted on: Tue, 04/02/2013 - 11:29

Hello, This article is amazing but a little overwhelming at the same time.

I completed the first month as of March, I do feel tighter but I def dont feel like ive lost that many inches. only like 3-5 pounds on the scale but I must admit my cardio was usually the 30 min or 20 warm up. I really dislike cardio. My question is, when I showed my friends this program he is in an athlete and he said it sounded like this is to get big muscular wise. Im already 149-5.5 and i wouldnt consider myself fat but im definetely not skinny. So what I am wondering is.. if I continue to lift heavy is this going to for sure make me leaner... just because I really want to tone but also go down pant sizes. Im also curious as to why there is no back work out emphasis...? My back is my worst asset.. help?

Thank you:)

Jess

Anon
Posted on: Sun, 03/31/2013 - 09:24

Nice read and really useful tips. However, I think you guys should revise your nutritional knowledge. A yoghurt is a good source of protein with a small serving providing 10-20g. Being from a low fat source, I consider this to be adequate.

Michelle
Posted on: Tue, 03/12/2013 - 21:21

My Dr. doesn't want me to do dead lifts. I have a couple discs in my lower back that are bothering me. Is there an alternative that doesn't put weight on my shoulders?

Rebecca Lambert
Posted on: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 12:57

LOVE LOVE LOVE this article and the outlined plans!! I wanted to get back on my workout routine since I have been discouraged for the last 2 mths....and, I can across this article while searching for supplements. Thanks a bunch!!

Irene
Posted on: Wed, 01/30/2013 - 13:42

Hi Joey, Thanks!!! I am so happy to hear that you think the kettlebells are a great choice! I went to the gym with a friend, much younger, slender, and toned and I pulled all the same weights as her. I was shocked and the next day the only soreness I had was my inner thighs and triceps. I thought I should be sore all over since I haven't done that type of weights for years. Now I know I should have pushed with higher weights. Oddly enough, I enjoyed the kettlebell dvd that I did much better than the weights and machines so I just ordered a set and a dvd and I can't wait to get started with that. I felt awesome after the kettlebell workout, totally cardio and strength - I felt like it was something I had a craving to do. I am so glad for your endorsement b/c I know it's important to like the workout but I also want it to work and I have high hopes for it. I got a set of 10, 15, 20, 25 so I can keep progressing and see how it goes. Can't wait to feel the burn!!! Your article is awesome,,,,thanks!!!

Irene
Posted on: Wed, 01/23/2013 - 09:42

Great article and I will re-read! I am overweight and lost 20 lbs. so far and I have an estimated 30 more to lose. I did that mainly with walking but of course I have a serious need to lose fat, built muscle, and tone up. I will join a gym so I can start the muscle building workout but I wonder if there are differences in this approach for women who are starting out overweight. I have done weights and machines before, but a long time ago so this would be very new to me. Does any of this advice in the article change if you are presently overweight and new to the workout? I guess I am concerned with the calories because I don't want to bulk up and not lose fat - I have been working on eating healthy and eat good protein and limit carbs. Any advice is greatly appreciated. Thanks,

Joey
Posted on: Wed, 01/23/2013 - 11:18

Hey Irene - work hard in the gym and focus on progressing there. You'll want to strive for more reps/weight each time you go. You'll find that weight raining is great for fat-loss! As for your diet, you'll need to eat under your daily caloric requirements. Don't eat too few calories as your fat-loss will stall. Here is a helpful calculator to determine your maintenance level of calories for the day. It's an estimate so start by eating 300-500 less calories per day and tweaking it as needed.
https://www.muscleandstrength.com/tools/bmr-calculator

Irene
Posted on: Sat, 01/26/2013 - 20:31

Thanks Joey, I checked the calculator and will start logging my calories to stick with a 500 less than the calculation. I have an apt. at a gym tomorrow so that's a start. Also, I tried a kettlebell dvd workout and I really liked it. What do you think of that type of workout for fat loss and toning/building muscle?

Joey
Posted on: Wed, 01/30/2013 - 12:25

Kettlebells can work wonders! It's important that you like it and stick with it. Good luck!

mona
Posted on: Tue, 01/22/2013 - 21:30

Hi , i am 55 i had a spine cord surgery i cant do heavy work out but i really want to gain muscle on my legs what kind of work out should i do and what kind of protean is good for my age , ill go to gym but i am not sure what is right for me thank you

mnsjason
Posted on: Thu, 01/24/2013 - 19:34

Hey Mona! I'm sorry to hear about your surgery. It's really best to consult your doctor, as I'm sure there are recommended exercises specifically for someone in your position.

Amanda I
Posted on: Thu, 01/03/2013 - 10:56

Great article! Glad a fellow friend shared it with me to get ready for my body building! :-D Competition is in march ready to do this! But can't you add a day or two of extra workouts?! I'm on a limited time frame and I gotta cut my bmi down fast!

RG-FIT
Posted on: Wed, 10/24/2018 - 09:11

Hi, I really enjoyed reading your article as it is very encouraging.

Overworked
Posted on: Fri, 12/28/2012 - 02:49

Hey, I've been going pretty hardcore and realised that I've basically starved my body. Started off with heavy training for a week and since then have been focusing mainly on my diet (for about 2 weeks). I'm doing all this because I'll be going on holiday back home in 2 weeks and really want to be able to afford the calories while there without guilt! But I'm afraid that I've screwed up my metabolism and really need your help fixing this problem. eg. meal plans or something? Any tips would be much appreciated, thanks! :)

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