For many female fitness enthusiasts, entering a period of bulking can be slightly frightening. After all, while many of the females around you are trying desperately to lose weight, you are actually trying to gain weight.
Some people will start questioning why you would ever want to do this, and may even make negative remarks regarding your newly developed muscle mass. Learning to block this out and not let it bother you is critical to ensuring success with your winter bulk.
Females Don't Get Huge
The first thing you have to remember is that females do not get huge! I can tell you from personal experience that the vast majority of females simply do not have enough testosterone in their bodies to add extreme amounts of muscle over a short period of time. In fact, you'd be lucky to gain a solid 10 pounds of lean muscle mass a year naturally.
Not only is this due to the lower levels of testosterone in a female's body, but also due to the contrasting high levels of estrogen. This creates a hormonal environment that is simply not the best for adding muscle mass. That isn't to say it can't be done, just that you are not going to have as easy of a time as a 25-year-old male would.
Building Muscle Takes Food
The next thing to keep in mind is that adding muscle requires food! Most females are not going to have much luck trying to gain muscle mass while consuming a 1600-calorie diet. This may work for a few who are smaller in nature and don't require as many calories to function, but many females are going to find they need to enter into the 2000+ calorie per day range to see noticeable effects.
Definitely don't go out and gorge yourself with food—you would add a lot more body fat in this process—but don't be afraid to up your calories either.
You will find that oftentimes your metabolism will speed up along with the increased calorie intake, especially if you have been dieting beforehand and have a suppressed metabolism.
Exercises & Weights
When choosing your exercises it's best to make sure to include mostly compound lifts in your routine. You may think you are making great progress on that Butt Blaster machine, but I can guarantee you that you will see far more benefits if you do some heavy squats and deadlifts.
The next adjustment you need to make to your training program is getting rid of all pink weights! Those five-pounders you see many females using in the gym are not going to do anything for your muscle-mass quest.
You need to be challenging your body, hitting between the 8-12 rep range, and chances are that five pounds just isn't going to do it. Don't be afraid to lift heavier weights, provided you are still maintaining proper form throughout the lift. This will be far more beneficial for your training.
Cardio is another subject that should be touched upon. How many females do you see slaving away on the elliptical day after day? A great many I'm sure. Doing this would be completely counterproductive to your goals, and should be avoided.
If you must do cardio, that's fine—there is nothing wrong with doing so on a bulk—but you should try and limit it to 2-4 20-30 minute sessions per week, and make sure you increase your calorie intake accordingly to account for the extra calories expended.
Another option is to do some HIIT sprints; however keep in mind that if you are already doing 2 or 3 leg workouts a week this could become too taxing on your system and limit your growth due to improper recovery.
You want to unveil a new you come spring, and if you are only giving half your effort, afraid you are going to just gain body fat or scared that people might think you are too masculine from lifting heavier weights, then you are likely to end up looking like an exact picture of your current self come April.
Don't be afraid! Lift heavy, rest, eat, and repeat. That's the secret to success.