The Busy Woman’s Guide to Building Muscle

You’ve finally broken up with the scale and love the defined curves and chiseled legs that you’ve been working on, care of strength training… Not to mention the biceps you now see in the mirror while brushing your teeth.

Your fitness journey is obviously about more than fat loss. It’s about feeling good. It’s about reaching your health and fitness goals. And sometimes, it’s not just about getting in shape but also creating a new shape. You might not want to “bulk up” (or maybe you do!) but you definitely want to fill out your jeans in all the “right” places.

Is it really possible to build muscle by working out 45 minutes or less a day? Heck, yeah, it sure is! 

Not-So Simple Secrets for Sculpting Serious Muscles

Adding inches to your booty or chiseling tank top-ready shoulders doesn’t mean you have to live in the gym. Muscle sculpting isn’t all about quantity. The real secret is quality, and it applies not only to how you exercise your body, but also to the kinds of fuel (food and water) you put into it. If you follow these steps, you can build significant lean muscle tone and still find time to do all the things you want (and need) to do during your busy day:

Do Compound Movements Most of the Time
When you only have 30-45 minutes to work out, you need to make the most of it. Doing compound movements — exercises that engage multiple muscles across multiple joints — is the most time efficient strength training technique. That means the focus of your strength training should be made of compound exercises like squats, lunges, push-ups, bench presses, rows, and chin-ups — because they target multiple muscle groups at one time as opposed to isolation exercises like biceps curls, which involve one joint and target a single muscle group.

Perform High-Intensity Cardio
Time to dial up the intensity.Strength training can help you not only build muscle, but also lose fat faster than traditional, steady state cardio. High intensity interval training (HIIT)alternates periods of all-out exercise and rest (think: circuits), doubling down on those benefits, packing on lean muscle while cranking up your calorie furnace more than any other form of exercise. Want to give it a try? Sign up for Beachbody on Demand for access to hundreds of HIIT workouts that cater to every fitness level.

You can add longer, steady state cardio workouts if you have the time, but if your main goal is to build lean muscle, those should be your last workout priority.

Busy Women: Lift Heavy and Rest Hard
To create strong, shapely muscles, you need a stimulus that fatigues the muscle and allots adequate time to recover. Don’t just lift to your max: Lifting heavy targets your fast twitch muscle fibers, which have the greatest growth potential. But new research shows that lifting weights consistently can also help boost overall muscle growth by increasing the size of slow twitch fibers, which most lifters neglect.Your move: Once a week, incorporate low weight/high (15+) rep sets into your training program.

Align Your Diet With Your Goals
The diet industry has tried hard to program women that they always need to to eat less if they want to see results. But if you eat too little, you may sacrifice muscle gain. Experts suggest a balanced diet of fats, proteins, and complex carbohydrates to give your body plenty of energy and high-quality meals to help support and nurture more muscle building and repair.

The most important ingredient in all of this? Patience. You got this. Just give it some time.