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4 Tips For The Skinny Girl: How To Put Muscle On A Slim Body

Tired of being the skinny girl? We've got your fix. Use these four tips to put some lean muscle on your ectomorph body. Get rid of your chicken legs and T-Rex arms for good!

It's getting hot! Even if you've logged some serious mileage on the track or treadmill this spring, you may not feel ready to let loose in summer shorts and bikinis. Maybe you're one of those naturally skinny girls, an ectomorph who just can't add pounds no matter how many milkshakes you pound. Or maybe you're a cardio junkie, and you've lost the curves you crave. Whatever the reason, if you put the "rail" in "frail," this article is for you.

If you feel less than sexy and you know it, then step off the treadmill and pick up some weights! Cardio burns calories, but it doesn't build the definition in your arms and legs that screams, "I'm strong and hot!" It's time to add some assets to your slender frame and carve a cat-suit-worthy physique. (Halle Berry, anyone?)

What's the great news? Just as any woman can successfully lose body fat, so can she build more muscle—and with it, those enviable curves. Here's how it's done.

1 / Eat Up

I know what you're thinking: "Wait? What? You're telling me to eat more?" I know this might be a total mind-blower for you ladies who are constantly told to watch what you eat, but you need to eat more to build muscle. The foundation for all your hard work in the gym is the food you eat!

Many women are misinformed about their eating habits; they think they have to eat much differently than men do. Really, ladies looking to build muscle can approach their eating habits similarly. The only real difference is the amount of calories. Because men tend to have more muscle and less fat, they can eat more.

Building muscle requires energy, and energy requires fuel, so fuel up! Without a caloric surplus, the body will simply maintain its current size. Women who want to add lean muscle and shape to their figure need to eat more calories than they burn during the course of the day. This equates to around 200-250 calories over maintenance. For most women, about 15 calories per pound of body weight should be enough to maintain.

Now, "eat more" doesn't give you free reign to raid the cookie jar, so don't overdo it. Instead, add more quality calories to your actual meals. Focus on a balanced diet comprising wholesome foods from a variety of food groups: complex carbohydrates, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Set a caloric intake range and try to stay within that range to maximize calories available to ensure muscle gains while limiting fat gain.

2 / Heavy As She Goes

Many women are afraid that merely touching a dumbbell will turn them into bulky, masculine, mass monsters. Have no fear! Lifting heavy weight will only enhance your results, not turn you into the She-Hulk.

If you want to build muscle, you need to set down those five-pounders you've been using for biceps curls and go heavier. Your muscles will only grow when they're stressed. Heavy resistance training breaks down muscle tissue; through a process of repairing and rebuilding, the muscle comes back stronger and larger than before. You will develop strong curves when you're brave and challenge yourself in the gym.

If you're still worried about getting huge, remember this: Women produce much less testosterone than men. Normal testosterone levels for men are 200-1,200 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dl), compared to women's 15-70 ng/dl. Huge difference! Testosterone is a crucial muscle-building hormone, so lower levels mean you won't see quick mass gains. Your muscles will grow slowly, and you'll have much more control over how much muscle you'd like to see.

3 / More Is Better

Many articles in popular women's fitness magazines show exercises that work just a single group of muscles. Isolation work can be necessary, especially for bodybuilders, but the exercises aren't always the best use of time. If you want results, focus on compound movements, which involve more than one muscle group. Think squats, deadlifts, presses, pull-ups, and rows. These exercises allow you to lift heavier weight and train more muscles per movement. They're easy to progress and a lot of fun, which will encourage you to work harder and more frequently.

Performing these exercises will challenge your body, build muscle, and add curves in a hurry. You could spend your time isolating particular muscles with curls and leg extensions, but you could wind up with some serious imbalances and slow results. Who wants to rock a Beyonce booty with Paris Hilton biceps? Nobody! Break up with your favorite isolation machine, start a lifelong relationship with a barbell, and save some time.

4 / Crank up the Intensity

Stop walking, stop jogging, and start sprinting! Cardio is important for health, but excessive aerobic training may actually hinder the growth of your lovely lady lumps. Prolonged aerobic exercise is catabolic, depleting energy that is crucial to building muscle.

High-intensity exercise burns calories during and after exercise, and it increases the secretion of hormones that stimulate fat breakdown. Lengthy sessions of low-intensity cardio, on the other hand, only burn calories during exercise and can eventually use carbohydrates or even protein as a fuel source. While you might be comfortable watching Friends reruns on the elliptical for hours, your body can actually deplete your carbohydrate supply and turn to the protein stored in your muscle for energy.

Substitute those monotonous workouts on the treadmill with high-intensity interval training (HIIT) sessions. HIIT alternates between high- and low-intensity exercises. The combination maintains the intensity of a workout over a longer period of time than high-intensity exercise alone. Twenty-minute bouts of interval sprints will strengthen your entire lower body, reveal your incredible physique, and help you develop awesome glutes.


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About The Author

I’ve been working in the field of exercise science for the last 8 years. I’ve written a number of online and print articles.

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itsJustAROD

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itsJustAROD

oh my god shes amazing!

Jun 12, 2013 5:58pm | report
 
Molinski44

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Molinski44

You should date her.

Jun 12, 2013 6:14pm | report
itsJustAROD

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itsJustAROD

who wouldnt? and im taken

Jun 12, 2013 7:28pm | report
travis132

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travis132

Don't do it.. someone told me the same thing about a supreme dominos pizza.. it was all good at first, great really. Then we moved in and got settled down, talked about marrage and kids. Now we have been having a rough patch in oir once great relationship. She's talking about going to court and taking my ON gold standard whey with the argument that we are common law. She said she isn't going to let me dab the grease off of her before I eat her anymore. I never saw my life end up this way and I don't know how to get out. The other day I looked at a one topping and she told me I don't love her.

Jun 12, 2013 10:08pm | report
racks11479

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racks11479

@travis132 hahaha thanks brother for the morning laughter lol

Jun 13, 2013 7:31am | report
xxx_jfb_xxx

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xxx_jfb_xxx

I'd date her. Wowsers :)

Jun 13, 2013 5:18pm | report
xxx_jfb_xxx

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xxx_jfb_xxx

I'd date her. Wowsers :)

Jun 13, 2013 5:18pm | report
dreambig1993

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dreambig1993

I always tell any women I help this same information!

Jun 12, 2013 7:03pm | report
 
Megghan

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Megghan

Thanks for sharing! This is a great article for us with 'skinny girl' problems!

Jun 12, 2013 7:52pm | report
 
Melizza09

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Melizza09

I'm just starting, and I get the gist of it.....however I'm not quite sure how to this while trying to 1st rid my fat! I know, eat clean etc.....but does this mean I no longer go for runs or participate in as much yoga (5x a week) ??

Jun 12, 2013 9:36pm | report
 
JABE00

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JABE00

You are in the path but picking up some weights will help a lot faster with patience of course, and the body will shape up while getting rid of the fat..

Jun 13, 2013 3:23am | report
LWTBP

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LWTBP

I am no expert but the point is you don't worry about losing fat. If you're fat just reduce the amount of calories in your food. The fat that's there in your body is going to provide the calories required to build AND MAINTAIN muscle.

Do yoga if you want the stretching and relaxing (which you will need to prevent the muscles from getting rigid) benefits of it. That power yoga and **** don't DO ****. :)

Jun 13, 2013 11:41pm | report
fredzz1003

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fredzz1003

nice work

Jun 13, 2013 2:06am | report
 
fredzz1003

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fredzz1003

nice work out

Jun 13, 2013 2:26am | report
 
racks11479

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racks11479

Great article!

If most women would only listen...

Jun 13, 2013 7:33am | report
 
JABE00

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JABE00

Amen!

Jun 13, 2013 8:28am | report
J9isyourstar

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J9isyourstar

Heck yes! Love this. I wish more women would listen to me when I say lifting heavy does NOT make you bulky! I squat 145 lbs. and do I look like a man? I think not ;)

Jun 13, 2013 11:33am | report
 
melissaknox

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melissaknox

Nice! Can't wait to get to that level of a squat! Beast! Def true, lift those weights women! Build a better you!

Jun 13, 2013 3:19pm | report
xxx_jfb_xxx

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xxx_jfb_xxx

No...definitely do not!

Jun 13, 2013 5:19pm | report
meelm93

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meelm93

Awesome, where you've been all my life? I'm about to crying, is almost my history.

Jun 13, 2013 12:09pm | report
 
OnyxChags

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OnyxChags

need the girls at my gym to see this T_T

Jun 13, 2013 5:19pm | report
 
LMJohnsonCSR

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LMJohnsonCSR

Great article!!

Jun 13, 2013 5:23pm | report
 
jmsharr

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jmsharr

Awesome article! I love HIIT

Jun 13, 2013 6:51pm | report
 
Ubbe

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Ubbe

Thank you! This is just what i needed! :)

Jun 14, 2013 1:48am | report
 
TrishKong

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TrishKong

Great article!! I needed this...

Jun 14, 2013 9:30am | report
 
Showing 1 - 25 of 32 Comments

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