I am an 18-year-old girl who is around 5'4" and trains four to five times a week for an hour-and-a-half to two hours. I train a mixture of cardio and weight training but I feel like in order to see more results I need to be eating more protein. I eat relatively well, with no rubbish or sugary processed foods or drinks. Should I eat more protein? Should I also be weight training then doing cardio?

My main goals are to build more muscle around my abs, arms, back, shoulders, bum, and inner thigh area to look slender and good. Although I don't want to get bulky and get massive legs etc. I train all of these muscle groups and split them into certain days. 2 days for bum, legs, and abs and 2 days for arms, back, shoulders, and abs. I train cardio every session as well.

  • 1
    What results are you looking for? What are your goals?
    – C. Lange
    Feb 26, 2020 at 12:58
  • 1
    Check out this answer: fitness.stackexchange.com/a/907/31284
    – C. Lange
    Feb 26, 2020 at 16:01
  • With regards to the toning tag, strictly speaking that's not actually a thing. A person can gain or lose fat, and a person can gain or lose muscle. Toning is this weird idea that isn't exactly losing fat nor is it building muscle, which is what most people seeking to "tone" their muscles are actually trying to do. You say that you are trying to see more results, but you don't specify what those results are. That also seems to be the main objective of the question, with protein being a simple component, meaning that the question's title should probably be revised. Feb 26, 2020 at 16:10
  • Assuming that your goal is body composition related, this study pretty relevant. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29405780 Feb 26, 2020 at 16:13
  • My main goals are to build more muscle around my abs,arms,back,shoulders and bum and inner thigh area to look slender and good. Although i don't want to go bulky and and get massive legs ect. I train all of these in the and split them into certain days. 2 days for bum legs and abs and 2 days for arms,back,shoulders and abs. I train cardio every session as well.
    – abbie
    Feb 26, 2020 at 20:06

2 Answers 2


My main goals are to build more muscle around my abs, arms, back, shoulders, bum, and inner thigh area to look slender and good. Although I don't want to get bulky and get massive legs.

First things first: it is hard to get bulky. It is hard to get massive legs. It is hard to achieve a bodybuilder physique. I hear this woe a lot, disproportionately from women, that achieving massive muscly legs is something that might happen accidentally. World-class bodybuilders, men and women, train and eat consistently for years to achieve their physiques.

I say this because this fear of being "bulky" causes many women to fear lifting heavy. However, lifting heavy is exactly what you should be doing to achieve your toned physique. I think you should take some time to read through these questions and answers: How can I get more "toned"?

Quoting this answer:

You need to lift weights like you're trying to get big - just don't eat like you're trying to get big.

On the topic of food: yes, you should be eating protein. How much depends on your goal and I will direct you to this great answer: Protein: How much is too much?

You've stated that your goal is to build muscle. If that's the case, your body needs protein and calories to work with. You should definitely be eating more protein than "sedentary" but while you're working on building up that muscle I think you should aim for somewhere between "active" and "bodybuilding".

In terms of calories, you should track your food and aim to eat about 200 calories more than your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE); this is just the amount of calories you burn in a day + activity. Eating slightly more calories than your TDEE will help encourage your body to build muscle while keeping the excess fat away.

I definitely suggest weight training first and then doing cardio afterwards.


You will not get "bulky" if you are not eating an excess of calories each week. Your body has a baseline of muscle that it uses and gets built up by getting in shape but it will not grow if you don't eat extra. Having extra protein and weightlifting will not make you bulky or even add muscle so don't be afraid of protein.. but if you're wanting to add muscle then you do need to eat more calories including a lot of complex carbs. If you're trying to avoid bigger legs than simply do less leg exercises and more of everything else. Once you've reached a point where you're satisfied with your muscle, then you can quit doing hypertrophy goals and focus on cutting/maintenance.

There are a lot of mixed research articles on what actually is medically a necessity but here are the average numbers.

Protein requirements depending on goals:

Hypertrophy: 0.75g to 1g per lb of bodyweight but can do up to 2g. You can have more but carbs can replace protein and your carbohydrate intake should be high for this goal so it lowers your actual needs.

Strength: same as above

Cutting or fat loss: at least 1g but advisable to do 1.5g per lb of bodyweight because your carb intake will be much lower.

Health: 0.36 g per lb bodyweight but these are the meager needs to be healthy.. you can do more according to this article: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/how-much-protein-per-day#weight-loss

Depending on the intensity of cardio, it's usually best after your weight training as it'll drain your aerobic system(or other energy systems depending on the intensity) and will make you that much more tired when you actually lift weights, reducing your numbers a bit.

I would also advise your workout to be more well rounded.. for instance you aren't doing any chest exercises. Chest exercises actually help make breasts appear bigger(if you're female) and prevent muscle asymmetry.

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