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I have worked out for five years. I am 18, 5' female. I am fit, fast, and strong. I know I have made a lot of progress in five years. If I watch what I eat for a week, abs pop out. Yet, I can look at photos from when I was about 12 and I look nearly identical, other than obvious maturing in my face, better posture, and slightly more muscular legs, and slightly broader shoulders. I have gained about 40 lbs, from when I was say, 13, yet I look no different. I even own some of the same clothes. I have totally different eating habits and lifestyle from when I was 12-13, yet I look like I've never been in a weight room. My workouts are designed for me, and they are really good. How come I never got ripped? I want to see those muscles that I can feel.

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    Have you looked at what specific exercises you are doing, if I did running and body-pump classes 3-4 times a week its likely I will get stronger and maybe get a six-pack but I won't appear 'built' I'd need to go pick up a barbell and boost my protein intake to grow my muscle. – Gunge Sep 16 '16 at 7:02
  • I do a lot that is similar to crossfit. I am a long jumper, and this is what it looks like: core workout, sprint drills, weights, lj drills, and then often running. Complex training a few times a week. Lots and lots of protein, and I love my barbells. – Hollis Sep 16 '16 at 21:54
  • I am not sure what you have is a bad thing? What you mean when you say you don't look fit? What makes a person look fit? – PravinCG Dec 16 '16 at 5:53
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As @xCodeZone mentioned, looking "ripped" is essentially synonymous with having a low body fat percentage.

Despite your "worked out for five years", you may yet be able to benefit from the novice effect [PDF] if you are willing to put on both muscle and fat for a few months, and then adjust your diet to reduce your body fat to display your stronger and bigger muscles.

Since you are female, you have less testosterone (than most males), which increases the difficulty of building muscle, so you probably will need to eat more protein (at least 1 gram of protein per pound of total body weight).

Consider revising your training scheme so that you include compound barbell movements (squat, deadlift, press, and bench press), performed for multiple sets of few repetitions (for example, three sets of five repetitions; later, five sets of three repetitions).

  • I do a lot of oly lifts, and bench pressing. I always do 3-5 sets, and never for more than 25 reps. I eat roughly 90g protein, and weigh 130. Should I increase my protein? My carbs are fairly low, but I don't actually track macros or calories. – Hollis Sep 16 '16 at 22:01
  • @Hollis, Olympic lifts allow you express strength (via explosiveness/power), but don't help you build strength as well as the "slow" compound barbell movements do (that is, squat, deadlift, press, and bench press). – Christian Conti-Vock Sep 16 '16 at 22:22
  • @Hollis, it's difficult to increase strength with so many (25) repetitions per set; that's essentially "conditioning", rather than strength training. You need strength training to build the muscles that you want to display. For each exercise, try doing 3 sets of 5 reps with a weight that you can handle with some effort. In your next workout (e.g., two days later), add 2.5 lb to 10 lb, depending on the exercise. – Christian Conti-Vock Sep 16 '16 at 22:22
  • @Hollis, yes, you should increase your daily protein intake to at least 1 gram of protein per pound of total body weight; for you, that's 130g of protein per day. Consuming (for example) whey protein eases that task. – Christian Conti-Vock Sep 16 '16 at 22:24
  • I avoid whey because of the fat calories, unless I"m baking. I use a vegan protein powder most of the time. Is Whey better? – Hollis Sep 17 '16 at 0:13
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Muscles don't come that easily. Getting ripped means you have to shed a lot of body fat and gain muscles at the same time. Also, your body's appearance depends on genetics to some extent. There are some sources that claim that some people added like 50lbs of muscles in a month. That's not true to any extent. It's marketing trap. No matter how hard someone tries, body's natural tendency would only enable you to put on 6-10 lbs of muscles a year. So, so see around 20 lbs of muscles you need to workout for at least 2-3 years, eat well and also keep your fat percentage maintained. Above all, I'd say being and feeling fit matter more than looking good, but that's my opinion.

  • I'm not terribly concerned about this, but I am starting to give out a lot of coaching information, and create training plans for my track team, because I am the team leader and captain of the house teams at my school, and the younger students, especially boys, find it hard to take me seriously because I don't look like I am athletic. I also can't walk around with my abs showing all the time, so I was just wondering if there was any solution out there. Thanks for the help! – Hollis Sep 16 '16 at 1:39
  • I understand your concern, but I think it will take time and may be some change in schedule? Like trying different training plans, and picking up the one that best suits you? – xCodeZone Sep 16 '16 at 2:07

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