How to Lose 40 Pounds and Get Lean Muscle for Women

Losing weight and gaining muscle takes time.
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Losing 40 pounds and building lean muscle mass requires you to set small goals to reach your ultimate fitness. Set yourself up for success by working on your diet and exercise plan everyday. Be realistic about your physical capabilities and time restraints. If you want to lose 40 pounds before your high school reunion next month, it isn't a healthy or realistic goal. Meet with your physician before you begin your weight loss regimen. She may have some additional suggestions for your specific needs.

Set Your Goals

Your goal should be losing 1 to 2 pounds of weight per week, suggests Losing weight more rapidly may stress your heart and lead to flabby skin or stretch marks. Your goal should not be watching the number on the scale. Lean muscle mass weighs more than fat, so if you are lifting weight several times per week, you could plateau or notice a small amount of weight gain during certain weeks. As an alternative to the scale, measure your waistline, thighs or upper arms once a week. If you're burning fat and becoming more lean, these numbers should be shrinking, depending on how much muscle mass you gain. Your goal might be losing 1 to 2 inches from your waistline per month to fit into that size 6 dress.

Cut Calories

Analyze your diet and start cutting calories. It takes an excess of 3,500 calories in your diet to gain 1 pound of body weight. Cutting 500 calories from your daily diet helps you lose about 1 pound per week. This number may seem overwhelming, but changing your beverage selections often cuts a drastic amount of calories before you make any food changes. Swap your morning coffee with cream for black coffee. Alcohol has hidden calories. Enjoying a 5-ounce glass of wine with dinner every night adds about 125 calories. Cut the calories by 50 percent by making a wine spritzer with half wine and half soda water. Other ways to cut calories include switching to skim milk, using red wine vinegar instead of salad dressing and opting for lean meats such as skinless chicken breast.

Burn Calories

Each week, you should do 2 1/2 hours of moderate intensity exercise, such as jogging or dance class, or 1 hour and 15 minutes of high intensity exercise, such as a step aerobics class or running in the park. Work out more often to increase weight loss. Burning 250 calories every day leads to an approximate weight reduction of about 2 pounds per month. As an example, a brisk walk, about 3.5 mph, burns about 315 calories in an hour if you weigh 160 pounds. Running on the treadmill at 5 mph for the same amount of time burns double the calories you burn with a 160-pound frame.

Build Muscle

In addition to aerobic exercise, you should do muscle-strengthening exercises, including weightlifting and resistance exercises, twice or more weekly. Building lean muscle mass tones your arms, legs, buttocks and other areas, while helping you burn fat. Select one region to work on at a time and rest that area the following exercise session. For example, if you work on your arms and chest today, tomorrow focus on weight-bearing exercises that target calves, thighs and buttocks. Do several sets of eight to 12 repetitions during strengthening exercises. Opt for an aerobics class at your gym that incorporates free weights or bands. These combination classes allow you to squeeze in both cardio and muscle-toning exercises in one class.

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