I'm a 35 year old woman and I weigh 105. I want to gain 20 pounds and add shape to my figure. I know what I need to do to gain weight, but what exercises can i do that will help me maintain the weight that I gain yet add shape to my bottom, definition to my arms and loose the small baby belly that i have?
Great question! As you probably expect, to get the results you're looking for, you'll need to do some work. 20 lbs is a lot of weight to gain, but it's an attainable goal! It's probably not what you want to hear, but in your first year, you shouldn't expect to put on more than 10 lbs of healthy weight. You'll need to be patient!
A great way to get started is with a simple 3 or 4 day per week routine that focuses on weight training and concludes with some high intensity cardio of some type. I've personally lost body fat but gained weight at the same time for months straight using this type of routine, and I really enjoy this style of training. It's fast, has great results, and you'll love it!
To get started, you'll need to get comfortable with a few foundational weight training movements:
I know these may look intimidating for a beginner, but before you get scared off, I'll let you know that I'm going to give you some alternatives that are effective and less intimidating. These are optimal choices though, so if you aren't afraid, dive in!
Now on to that simple routine I was talking about. It's called a push/pull routine, because one day you'll do pushing movements, the next time you'll do pulling movements. That will give your push body parts time to recover until next time, and vice-a-versa. However, since the squat is a movement your body can handle doing more frequently, you'll do squats every time you work out. (Plus doing so will help you get a great butt!)
You should structure your routine around your schedule, but for now be sure to get at least a day of rest in between each workout. I'll get into the details, but here's an example schedule:
- Monday (push day): Squats, bench press, 10 minutes high intensity cardio
- Wednesday (pull day): Squats, row, 10 minutes high intensity cardio
- Friday (push day): Squats, overhead press, 10 minutes high intensity cardio
- Monday (pull day): Squats, deadlift, 10 minutes high intensity cardio
- Repeat starting Wednesday (and so on)
To start out, you should aim for 3 sets of 10 repetitions of each movement in the routine. You should use a weight that's heavy enough that on your last rep of 10, you are really struggling. You should try to increase the weight as often as you can and strive for 10 reps. Take 1-3 minutes of rest between each set, depending on how you feel. Shorter rest is better in your case.
The squat should be considered the foundation of your training. This exercise is going to do the most for you. Not only will you get some serious "back", but you'll also get great posture. It is the most important movement and you should try your best to master it. I've provided more details on squats in the tips section below. A great alternative until you build confidence with the movement is the dumbbell squat. I have to mention that you should not use the smith press to squat (details here) because it is really stressful on your knees and creates muscular imbalances between the front and rear of the leg (bad news! causes all sorts of systemic issues!). Always use free weights.
The deadlift is similar to the squat in that it works what's called your posterior chain (butt, legs, back). However, it will also help define your upper back, which is something the squat can't do. It's also going to help give you a really attractive and regal posture that happens naturally. There aren't a lot of alternatives for this one, but another option is the stiff-legged deadlift. Here's a video of a woman explaining the stiff-legged deadlift. I recommend doing some more research on this movement to get the form down. Remember: keep your lower back straight.
Not only will the bench press possibly make your breasts more shapely, but it will also help give you the definition in your arms you're looking for (bye bye under-arm flab). A great alternative you're probably familiar with is the push-up. The push-up is a tough exercise! But, if you decide to scale it by doing push-ups with your knees down, you're doing yourself more harm than good. Scale this exercise by inclining against something. The better you become at it, the lower you can go. To throw in some variation, you can also do assisted dips.
The row is important for giving figure to your back. It will also help naturally pull your shoulders back and give you a more upright posture. It's also great for defining your arms. My favorite variation of this exercise is the inverted row. If you struggle for your 10 reps, you can increase the incline. From time to time you may want to add some variation by doing assisted pull-ups if you have a machine available (or self-assisted pull-ups if you don't).
Your arms will thank you for this movement as well. There's not much to it, just push the weight overhead. You may want to use dumbbells until you get comfortable with this movement.
Contrary to popular belief, long, intermediate cardio sessions -- like jogging for half an hour or using the elliptical -- are really poor methods of conditioning and fat loss. There's a large body of research showing that short, high intensity training is where it's at. I've experienced fantastic results (it's whipped me into such good shape, my resting heart rate is actually in the 40s!, plus it keeps my bodyfat low.)
You can approach anything with a high intensity approach, if you like -- even squats. The idea is that you'll want to go as hard as you possibly can for a short period of time, then slow it down for about twice as long, then go hard again, etc. My favorite type of intervals are hill sprints (run up the hill as fast as possible, jog back down). I also enjoy using this method on a rowing machine, or stairmill, or even chaining multiple movements together with no rest in between (like pushups followed by rows followed by squats). Experiment! The idea is that you push as hard as you possibly can for 10 minutes.
Best of luck! You're going to do great. I think you'll be blown away by how great your results are in the first few months. If you have any questions, feel free to comment in the comment section below.
This style of routine really offers a lot of millage. If you find yourself becoming stagnant, come back and ask us about intermediate training methodologies!
- Drink a lot of water (personally I drink at least a gallon a day). It will help your body's lymph system flush damaged muscle tissue out of the body. (Note: Water leeches salt from your body. The average american diet has enough salt in it for this not to matter, but if your diet is low in sodium, make sure you up your salt intake a bit so you don't become hyponatremic.)
- Eat clean. The less a food has been processed the better. By processed I mean anything that alters it from its raw state. A raisin is a processed grape. A rolled oat is a processed oat. You'll be surprised how your flab will shrink away even though your figure will remain, just from consistently eating healthy.
- Eat enough protein. The rest of your calorie needs can come from anywhere, just be sure to get enough protein so your muscles can stay healthy (at least 1g per lb of bodyweight per day is a good rule of thumb).
- Get enough sleep. Sleep is when your muscles and central nervous system do the brunt of their regeneration. If you can get a solid 8 hours per night, your results will come much quicker.
- Monitor your weight. Adding a workout routine means you may be burning more calories than you realize, which means you could lose weight. Skin fold calipers are a great tool to help you keep track of your bodyfat (plus they're really cheap on amazon. I personally own this one and am happy with it). (I don't recommend electronic bodyfat readers because they are very inaccurate.) Take a reading every 2 weeks to help give you some indication of whether or not you're eating enough or too much. Ultimately the scale shouldn't matter -- the mirror should.
- Meditate. If you can add 15-20 minutes per day of good mindfulness meditation to your routine, the absolute relaxation will really help you gain awareness of your body. Plus it will help your brain create neuromuscular pathways so that you can be more effective in your exercises.
Squats: This exercise will help you get a great butt, legs, and core. If a barbell is too heavy, try getting started with a broomstick or a PVC pipe or dumbbells. Cues for learning this exercise are to think about:
- Keeping your chest up
- All four corners of your feet glued to the ground
- Abs tight (as if someone were going to punch you in the stomach)
- Knees out as you descend. Try to keep pushing your knees out so your legs stay open. This will keep your glutes engaged.
- Don't flop into the bottom position, control yourself on the way down. Keeping your muscles tight will protect your spine from injury.
Then touch try to touch your butt to your ankles. Remember to keep your heels on the ground; push through your heels. It's important to use good form on this exercise, so if you aren't sure, search around on youtube or ask a personal trainer.
You can't achieve your goals by gaining 20 pounds of fat.
You can't gain 'shapes' in a good way. Breasts grow larger with fat, your booty grows with fat. But fat also makes almost every other part of the body look worse.
There is no way to lose weight in only desired places. It is entirely determined by genetics.
To gain 'good weight' you need to lift weights. Yes, exactly as a male body-builder. But any female that does that for several months to few years will not look like one. She will not look like a female body-builder either (they take testosterone and other substances).
Imagine a Victoria's Secret model. She got lucky with genetics for sure. But how her body differs from the average girl's? She has more muscle, and she has less fat.
You need to lose a bit of fat, to lose the belly. And you need to gain muscle, so you don't look skinny, but look and feel great.
If you don't want to read all correct but lengthy (like reading a book) answers, I explain in points:
- you have to exercise 5 days a week, you can increase from 5 mins cardio to 1 hour compound/mix exercise, enjoy doing exercise, give extra reps to in exercise which you like the most.
- Rest mentally and physically, just don't think about goal for 2 days. Just be happy.
- Ea.t in 6 small (non junk meals), you should always leave some space, like you are still hungry.
- increase weights from lite weight to your last limit, in a way that you cleanly do the reps no jerking/cheating.