• Many of my clients have trouble putting on size and curves.
  • Try each of these programs to see which one works best for you.
  • Always be sure to do a few light sets before each exercise.

Weightlifting has an amazing purpose, it can fit in with most people with different needs and goals. You can find hundreds and hundreds of articles about how to lose weight, how to shape up and trim down but it is really hard to find editorials on how to add size or weight gain for women.

Many articles have been published in both magazines and online about mass training but most of them are written by men for men. I thought I would change this path and reach out to the women out there that either have a hard time to gain weight, to achieve more curves to their bodies, but also to the more serious athlete who wants to build more size with the hope to compete on stage.

5 Successful Muscle-Gaining Workouts For Women!

People stare because I put many male bodybuilders to shame.

I have many clients who come to me for help with weight gaining purposes, many having a very hard time putting on any size and curves. It is very rare these people get any recognition or help since most programs are toward overweight women trying to lose weight. Putting on size can be just as hard for women as it is to lose weight.

To gain size doesn't mean you will turn into a man or get overly muscular, trust me, that is such a misconception. People may stare at me because I put many male bodybuilders to shame but I have been training for more than 15 years to get where I am with the goal focused on competing and to become a professional athlete. For women with goals to add size and curves there is no reason to be afraid of the weights or to train heavy.

Muscles are needed to obtain your curves, to help your posture and to tighten your skin. The good thing with muscles is that they help you constantly burn fat which together with a good diet will give you a leaner look year round without having to do hours and hours of cardio.

I have tried many different workouts and I know now that constant changes to different workouts is by far the best way to attack the muscle and to gain new muscle size. It is important to keep your muscles in anabolic mode all the time to get the result you are looking for—whether this is to build muscle or burn fat.

Different workout plans matched together with a good diet plan will always do the trick. Try to change your workout routine every 4-to-6 weeks and make sure to give your body the best fuel and building stones for total muscle recovery with the right food and supplements. It is NOT in the gym you achieve growth, it's when you recover and rest.

Preparing For The Growth

5 Successful Muscle-Gaining Workouts For Women!

Constant changes of different workouts are the best way to attack the muscle.

Although this is strictly a training article I cannot emphasize enough the importance of workout nutrition. This is where a lot of your training donations will get rewarded.

I highly recommend a pre-, during- and post-workout drink that will prevent your muscles from dying empty of glycogen during this time of stress. We need to have them fully fueled and loaded all the way through the workout to get the result we want and to make sure we don't lose any muscle size (atrophy) during the workout.

My secret formula is actually originally from Sweden and I have been using it for more than 10 years. I am sure many of you have heard of Vitargo. Many companies have been trying to copy this product but cannot live up to the real product.

This product is used by many elite athletes (who cannot mention its name because their current sponsors cannot make the product). It's common in different sports all over the world and has been scientifically formulated and approved. Read more about Vitargo on my blog.

The best thing about this product is that, not like others—it has actually been scientifically proven on HUMANS to work better than any other product on the market.

Pre-workout drink

Workout drink

  • 1 scoop of Vitargo

Post-workout drink

Attack The Weights

I have trained with many of the best bodybuilders in the world—6-times Mr. Olympia Dorian Yates, 8-times Ms. Olympia Lenda Murray, Veronica Dahlen (Swedish world champion and IFBB Pro in 1988), Bill Grant, and Robby Robinson, to name just a few, and I have learned a lot of different ways to train and to improve my size.

To make their workouts work for me I take parts of their workouts and compose various workout programs that suit my needs.

Here I present 5 different workouts that will wake up your muscles from the long winter sleep and make them grow to a curvy summer shape, or to a competitive muscle frame.

5 Successful Muscle-Gaining Workouts For Women!

These workouts will wake up your muscles from the long winter sleep

I encourage you to try them all and use the best qualities that work for you. Some of the programs don't include the warm-up sets you need to do before hitting the heavy weights. Always make sure to do a few light sets before each exercise.

Heavy Duty To Failure

Terms You'll Need To Know

Failure: That point in an exercise at which you have so fully fatigued your working muscles that they can no longer complete an additional repetition of a movement with strict biomechanics. You should always take your post-warm-up sets at least to the point of momentary muscular failure, and frequently past that point.

I was introduced to this training philosophy by the Shadow himself " Dorian Yates." This training will force your muscles to grow in a short time since the breakdown in muscle fiber on this program is the most intense. The workout principle is built on a short intense workout, not spending more than 45 minutes in the gym to complete your mission and a total breakdown of muscle tissue.

Dorian Yates' philosophy was, and is, is to use mainly compound movements and to conduct only one set to failure of each exercise. Each exercise starts with two warm up sets to feel the weight, get the muscle prepared and warm for what's to come.

It is good to have a training partner to spot you for that last few reps since its principles are all about going over the limit and to do those added reps you didn't even think you could do. The spotter should barely help you and force you to get the weight up by yourself. This weight should continually be a record weight for you from week to week.

5 Successful Muscle-Gaining Workouts For Women!

It is good to have a training partner to spot you for that last few reps since its principles are all about going over the limit.

To recover from this muscle breakdown the body will need more rest than with other training principles. The day of working a big muscle group should be followed by a rest day to assure full recovery and growth. And remember you only have one set to give all, so focus on the task and do it right because you don't get a second chance (or set).

This workout is featured on my training DVD Cinderella Story where 6-times Mr. Olympia Dorian Yates is seen mutilating my muscles.

  • Day 1: Arms
  • Day 2: Chest/Abdominals
  • Day 3: Rest
  • Day 4: Shoulders
  • Day 5: Back
  • Day 6: Rest
  • Day 7: Legs/Calves
  • Day 8: Rest

Arms

  • Biceps Curl with Barbell: 2 warm-up sets of 12 reps, 1 working set of 10 reps
  • Hammer Dumbbell Curls: 1 warm-up set of 12 reps, 1 working set of 10 reps
  • Preacher Curl with Barbell: 1 warm-up set of 12 reps, 1 working set of 10 reps
  • Skull Crushers: 2 warm-up sets of 12 reps, 1 working set of 10 reps
  • Tricep Extension with Dumbbell: 1 warm-up set of 12 reps, 1 working set of 10 reps
  • Push-downs with Rope: 1 warm-up set of 12 reps, 1 working set of 10 reps

Get A Printable Log Of The Arms Workout.

Chest

  • Incline Dumbbell Presses: 2 warm-up sets of 12 reps, 1 working set of 10 reps
  • Incline Flyes with Dumbbells: 1 warm-up set of 12 reps, 1 working set of 10 reps
  • Flat Bench: 1 warm-up set of 12 reps, 1 working set of 10 reps
  • Decline Bench: 1 warm-up set of 12 reps, 1 working set of 10 reps
  • Sit-ups with Weight: 3 sets to failure
  • Weighted Leg Raises: 3 sets to failure

Get A Printable Log Of The Chest Workout.

Shoulders

  • Military Press in Front: 2 warm-up sets of 12 reps, 1 working set of 10 reps
  • Side raises: 1 warm-up set of 12 reps, 1 working set of 10 reps
  • Bent-Over Rear-Delt Raises: 1 warm-up set of 12 reps, 1 working set of 10 reps
  • Front Raises with Dumbbells: 1 warm-up set of 12 reps, 1 working set of 10 reps
  • Shrugs: 1 warm-up set of 12 reps, 1 working set of 10 reps

Get A Printable Log Of The Shoulders Workout.

Back

  • Lat Pull-down: 2 warm-up sets of 12 reps, 1 working set of 10 reps
  • Bent-Over Barbell Rows: 2 warm-up sets of 12 reps, 1 working set of 10 reps
  • Seated Cable Row: 1 warm-up set of 12 reps, 1 working set of 10 reps
  • Deadlifts: 1 warm-up set of 12 reps, 1 working set of 10 reps

Get A Printable Log Of The Back Workout.

Legs

  • Leg Extension: 2 warm-up sets of 20 reps, 1 working set of 20 reps
  • Squats: 2 warm-up sets of 12 reps, 1 working set of 20 reps
  • Lying Leg Curl: 1 warm-up set of 15 reps, 1 working set of 20 reps
  • Stiff-Legged Deadlifts: 1 warm-up set of 12 reps, 1 working set of 20 reps

Get A Printable Log Of The Legs Workout.

Giant Set Blaster

We want to make sure the body doesn't adapt to the workouts and its intensity - the end result will be hitting a plateau with no growth or gain.

To prevent this from happening we need to change strategies every 4-to-6 weeks. This will help shock the body since we work on different muscle fibers from low or high intensity, one workout to another. All the while keep in mind we still want to keep some intensity to keep workouts on the shorter side, and NO talking between sets!

As we all know it is not in the gym you build muscles, it's outside the gym when you get to rest and recover. With this high intensity routine you do 3-to-4 exercises with no rest in between each. This is followed by 45 seconds rest before doing a second and final repeat of the giant set. Make sure to bring some extra towels so you can reserve all the machines and benches you need for the movements.

5 Successful Muscle-Gaining Workouts For Women!

We want to make sure the body doesn't adapt to the workouts and it's intensity.

This workout will improve your endurance as well as your strength since you will be working both types of muscle fibers. Always start with 2 warm-up sets for the first exercise per body part to warm up the joints and muscles.

  • Day 1: Chest/Triceps
  • Day 2: Back/Biceps
  • Day 3: Rest
  • Day 4: Shoulders/Abdominals
  • Day 5: Legs/Calves

Chest/Triceps

  • Incline Dumbbell Press: 2 warm-up sets of 12 reps,2 working sets of 8-10 reps
  • Flat Dumbbell Flyes: 2 warm-up sets of 12 reps,2 working sets of 8-10 reps
  • Decline Bench Press: 2 warm-up sets of 12 reps, 2 working sets of 8-10 reps
  • Dumbbell Pull-overs: 2 warm-up sets of 12 reps, 2 working sets of 8-10 reps
  • Push-downs with Straight Bar: 1 warm-up sets of 12 reps, 2 working sets of 10 reps
  • Overhead Rope Extensions: 1 warm-up sets of 12 reps, 2 working sets of 10 reps
  • Dips: 1 warm-up set of 12 reps, 2 working sets of 10 reps

Get A Printable Log Of The Chest/Triceps Workout.

Back/Biceps

  • Lat Pull-downs Behind-the-Neck: 2 warm-up sets of 12 reps, 2 working sets of 10 reps
  • Chins: 2 warm-up sets of 12 reps, 2 working sets of 10 reps
  • Seated Row: 2 warm-up sets of 12 reps, 2 working sets of 10 reps
  • Hyperextension: 2 warm-up sets of 12 reps, 2 working sets of 10 reps
  • Barbell Curls: 1 warm-up set of 12 reps, 2 working sets of 10 reps
  • Hammer Curl: 1 warm-up set of 12 reps, 2 working sets of 10 reps
  • Preacher Curl: 1 warm-up set of 12 reps, 2 working sets of 10 reps

Get A Printable Log Of The Back/Biceps Workout.

Shoulders/Abs

  • Dumbbell Presses: 2 warm-up sets of 12 reps, 2 working sets of 10 reps
  • Side Raise with Dumbbells: 2 warm-up sets of 12 reps, 2 working sets of 10 reps
  • Front Raises with Dumbbells: 2 warm-up sets of 12 reps, 2 working sets of 10 reps
  • Shrugs: 2 warm-up sets of 12 reps, 2 working sets of 10 reps
  • Oblique Crunches: 2 working sets to failure
  • Hanging Leg Raises: 2 working sets to failure
  • Sit-ups with Weights: 2 working sets to failure

Get A Printable Log Of The Shoulders/Abs Workout.

Legs/Calves

  • Leg Extension: 2 warm-up sets of 15 reps, 1 working set of 20 reps
  • Leg Press: 2 warm-up sets of 15 reps, 1 working set of 20 reps
  • Leg Curl: 2 warm-up sets of 15 reps, 1 working set of 20 reps
  • Stiff-Legged Deadlift: 2 warm-up sets of 15 reps, 1 working set of 20 reps
  • Seated Calf Raises: 1 warm-up set of 15 reps, 1 working set of 20 reps
  • Standing Calf Raises: 1 warm-up set of 15 reps, 1 working set of 20 reps
  • Calf Raises in Leg Press Machine: 1 warm-up set of 15 reps, 1 working set of 20 reps

Get A Printable Log Of The Legs/Calves Workout.

Muscle Mutilation Drop Sets

To reach failure and complete muscle fatigue can also be achieved by doing drop sets.

The purpose here is to go to failure and then you drop the weight about 25% and do a few more reps until failure is reached, and then drop additional 25% one more and final time to failure. Try to hit failure at around 10 reps on the first weight, 8 on the second and then 4 more reps on the lightest weight.

This is a perfect workout in case you are lacking a training partner or a spotter and still want to work with heavy weights.

Since you are adding more reps to your set there is no need to do more than 2 drop sets of each exercise with 45 second rest in between. Remember, women don't want to overtrain any muscle group as we have a harder time to recover which will lead a catabolic state and no muscle growth.

  • Day 1: Chest/Biceps
  • Day 2: Back/Triceps
  • Day 3: Rest
  • Day 4: Shoulders
  • Day 5: Legs/Calves
  • Day 6: Rest

Chest/Biceps

  • Incline Dumbbell Presses: 2 warmup sets of 12 reps, 2 working sets of 10, 6, 4 reps
  • Incline Cable Flyes: 1 warm-up set of 12 reps
  • Flat Bench Press: 2 warmup sets of 12 reps, 2 working sets of 10, 8, 4 reps
  • Cable Cross-overs: 1 warm-up set of 12 reps, 2 working sets of 10, 8, 4 reps
  • Dumbbell Curl: 2 warmup sets of 12 reps, 2 working sets of 10, 6, 4 reps
  • Preacher Curl Machine: 1 warm-up set of 12 reps, 2 working sets of 12, 8, 4 reps
  • Barbell Curl: 1 warm-up set of 12 reps, 2 working sets of 10, 8, 4 reps

Get A Printable Log Of The Chest/Biceps Workout.

Back/Triceps

  • Lat Pull-down to the Front: 2 warm-up sets of 12 reps, 2 working sets of 12, 8, 4 reps
  • Narrow-Grip Pull-downs: 1 warm-up set of 12 reps, 2 working sets of 12, 8, 4 reps
  • Seated Cable Row: 1 warm-up set of 12 reps, 2 working sets of 10, 6, 4 reps
  • One-Arm Dumbbell Rows: 1 warm-up set of 12 reps, 2 working sets of 10, 6, 4 reps
  • Narrow Bench Press in Smith Machine: 1 warm-up set of 12 reps, 2 working sets of 12, 8, 4 reps
  • Push-downs with Rope: 1 warm-up set of 12 reps, 2 working sets of 12, 8, 4 reps
  • Overhead Extension with Dumbbell: 1 warm-up set of 12 reps, 2 working sets of 10, 6, 4 reps

Get A Printable Log Of The Back/Triceps Workout.

Shoulders/Abs

  • Smith Machine Shoulder Press: 2 warmup sets of 12 reps, 2 working sets of 10, 6, 4 reps
  • Rear Raises with Dumbbells on a Bench: 1 warm-up set of 12 reps, 2 working sets of 12, 8, 4 reps
  • Front Raises: 1 warm-up set of 12 reps, 2 working sets of 12, 8, 4 reps
  • Side Raises: 1 warm-up set of 12 reps, 2 working sets of 12, 8, 4 reps
  • Upright Row: 1 warm-up set of 12 reps, 2 working sets of 12, 8, 4 reps
  • Ab Crunch Machine: 2 sets of 15, 10, 8 reps
  • Hanging Leg Raises: 2 sets to failure
  • Sit-ups: 2 sets of 20, 15, 10 reps

Get A Printable Log Of The Shoulders/Abs Workout.

Legs/Calves

  • Leg Press: 2 warm-up sets of 20 reps, 2 working set of 20, 15, 8 reps
  • Squats: 2 warm-up sets of 20 reps, 2 working set of 20, 15, 8 reps
  • Leg Extension: 1 warm-up set of 20 reps, 2 working set of 20, 15, 8 reps
  • Lying Leg Curl: 2 warmup sets of 20 reps, 2 working set of 20, 15, 8 reps
  • Seated Leg Curl: 1 warm-up set of 12 reps, 2 working set of 20, 15, 8 reps
  • Standing Calf Raises: 1 warm-up set of 12 reps, 2 working set of 20, 15, 8 reps

Get A Printable Log Of The Legs/Calves Workout.

Swedish Viking Rage Workout

5 Successful Muscle-Gaining Workouts For Women!

This will show you that only the strong survive.

This is a workout that demands its performer—Beware all weak minds! This will show you that only the strong survive and will become a true Valkyria in Valhalla.

Well, back to reality, this workout will fatigue your muscles like nothing else and will make you pass limits of endurance and lactic acid.

Here we try to use only one exercise to maximize the reps and to shock your muscle by doing five sets going from high to low reps, and then back up from low to high reps which will total at 10 sets. It might sound complicated but it is as simple as can be.

You simply use 5 different weights going from super light for your 40 reps to the heavy weight for your 5 reps with no rest in between. I can assure you that when you go back down on the weights from high reps it will feel much heavier than you began with.

This method stimulates both of our muscle fibers, the slow acting and the fast acting, since you train both with high reps as with low reps in same set. This will give us a complete breakdown of the muscles we train. It will be a fast and intense workout leaving only the energy to make a quick exit.

This is one of many training programs that I use in the MJ KISS, my personal training method.

  • Day 1: Back/Chest
  • Day 2: Rest
  • Day 3: Shoulders/Arms/Abdominals
  • Day 4: Rest
  • Day 5: Legs/Calves
  • Day 6: Rest

Back

  • Lat Pull-down: 1 warm-up set of 12 reps, 1 working set of 40, 30, 20, 10, 5, 5, 10, 20, 30, 40 reps
  • Seated Row: 1 warm-up set of 12 reps, 1 working set of 40, 30, 20, 10, 5, 5, 10, 20, 30, 40 reps

Get A Printable Log Of The Back Workout.

Chest

  • Incline Press: 1 warm-up set of 12 reps, 1 working set of 40, 30, 20, 10, 5, 5, 10, 20, 30, 40 reps
  • Dumbbell flyes: 1 warm-up set of 12 reps, 1 working set of 40, 30, 20, 10, 5, 5, 10, 20, 30, 40 reps

Get A Printable Log Of The Chest Workout.

Shoulders/Arms

  • Side Raises: 1 warm-up set of 12 reps, 1 working set of 40, 30, 20, 10, 5, 5, 10, 20, 30, 40 reps
  • Rear Raises: 1 warm-up set of 12 reps, 1 working set of 40, 30, 20, 10, 5, 5, 10, 20, 30, 40 reps
  • Barbell Curl: 1 warm-up set of 12 reps, 1 working set of 40, 30, 20, 10, 5, 5, 10, 20, 30, 40 reps
  • Skull Crushers: 1 warm-up set of 12 reps, 1 working set of 40, 30, 20, 10, 5, 5, 10, 20, 30, 40 reps

Get A Printable Log Of The Shoulders/Arm Workout.

Legs/Calves

  • Squats: 2 warm up sets of 12 reps, 1 working set of 40, 30, 20, 10, 5, 5, 10, 20, 30, 40 reps
  • Stiff-Legged Deadlifts: 1 warm up set 12 reps, 1 working set of 40, 30, 20, 10, 5, 5, 10, 20, 30, 40 reps
  • Sit-ups with Weight: 2 sets to failure
  • Hanging Leg Raises or lying Leg Raises: 2 sets to failure

Get A Printable Log Of The Legs/Calves Workout.

Heavy Duty With Pyramid Training

Another way to increase growth is by increasing your strength too. To do this, we need to work our fast twitch fibers and do heavier weights for fewer repetitions.

Our goal is now to get stronger for every workout we do which means breaking weight records in every workout. This can be challenging but also inspiring especially those needing a lot of hard work. But as they say, "No pain, no gain!" This workout is good to use after a period of training with higher reps.

5 Successful Muscle-Gaining Workouts For Women!

Our goal is to get stronger for every workout we do.

What we implement here is pyramid training which means increasing the weights to lower the reps for every set we do. The last set should be only up to 4 reps.

Every exercise consists of 4 sets with a 45 seconds rest in between each of them. For this training method it takes courage from the female of not being afraid of heavy weights.

You start off the first set with a weight that will be manageable for 10 repetitions. Then rest. For the second set you choose a weight with which you can only accomplish 8 reps, followed by 45 seconds rest again. The weight for third set should be that heavy that you will stop at 6 reps. One more rest before the last set which will be with a even heavier weight to reach failure at 4 reps.

  • Day 1: Back
  • Day 2: Chest
  • Day 3: Rest
  • Day 4: Shoulders/Hamstrings
  • Day 5: Arms/Abdominals
  • Day 6: Quads/Calves
  • Day 7: Rest

Chest:

  • Incline Dumbbell Presses: 4 sets of 10, 8, 6, 4 reps
  • Incline Flyes: 4 sets of 10, 8, 6, 4 reps
  • Flat Dumbbell Presses: 4 sets of 10, 8, 6, 4 reps
  • Flat Flyes with Dumbbells: 4 sets of 10, 8, 6, 4 reps
  • Decline Bench Press: 4 sets of 10, 8, 6, 4 reps

Get A Printable Log Of The Chest Workout

Back

  • Chin-ups: 3 sets to failure
  • Pulldowns Behind Neck: 4 sets of 10, 8, 6, 4 reps
  • Seated Row: 4 sets of 10, 8, 6, 4 reps
  • Bent-Over Barbell Row: 4 sets of 10, 8, 6, 4 reps
  • Deadlifts: 4 sets of 10, 8, 6, 4 reps

Get A Printable Log Of The Back Workout

Shoulders/Abdominals

  • Shoulder Press: 4 sets of 10, 8, 6, 4 reps
  • Lateral Dumbbell Raises: 4 sets of 10, 8, 6, 4 reps
  • Front Raises with a Weight Plate: 4 sets of 10, 8, 6, 4 reps
  • Bent-Over Lateral Raise: 4 sets of 10, 8, 6, 4 reps
  • Shrugs: 4 sets of 10, 8, 6, 4 reps
  • Sit-ups: 4 sets of 10, 8, 6, 4 reps
  • Hanging Leg Raises: 3 sets to failure

Get A Printable Log Of The Shoulders/Abdominals Workout

Arms

  • Barbell Curls: 4 sets of 10, 8, 6, 4 reps
  • Preacher Curls with Barbell: 4 sets of 10, 8, 6, 4 reps
  • Hammer Curls with Dumbbell: 4 sets of 10, 8, 6, 4 reps
  • Skull Crushers: 4 sets of 10, 8, 6, 4 reps
  • Push-downs with Rope: 4 sets of 10, 8, 6, 4 reps
  • Dips: 4 sets of 10, 8, 6, 4 reps

Get A Printable Log Of The Arms Workout

Quads

  • Squats: 4 sets of 10, 8, 6, 4 reps
  • Leg Press: 4 sets of 10, 8, 6, 4 reps
  • Leg Extensions: 4 sets of 10, 8, 6, 4 reps
  • Seated Calf Raises: 4 sets of 10, 8, 6, 4 reps
  • Standing Calf Raises: 4 sets of 10, 8, 6, 4 reps

Get A Printable Log Of The Quads Workout.

Conclusion

If you are ready for something new and don't get the results you want, then try these 5 mass-gaining workouts for 12 weeks. Feel free to contact me at "marika@kagedmuscle.com" with your progress and/or if you are interested in a customized training plan made to suit your goals.

Good luck!

About the Author

Marika Johansson

Marika Johansson

IFBB pro, PTA Director/Examiner, personal professional private trainer, massage therapist, and a proud mother of son, Sebastian.

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