Although women won’t put on muscle as quickly or significantly as men because of natural hormonal differences, they can still see noticeable improvements by participating in a consistent high-volume weight-training program. Lifting three days per week and building muscle mass is doable, as long as your workouts are scheduled on nonconsecutive days.
Workouts that are designed for muscle building are considered high volume, meaning they consist of a relatively high number of exercises performed for multiple sets and at the higher end of repetitions. Your muscles need enough rest and recovery time in between workouts to recover from your high-volume weightlifting bouts. Because of this, greater focus will be placed on a certain group of muscles during each workout. The major muscle groups include the chest, shoulders, back, biceps, triceps, glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings and calves. Complete each exercise for three sets, with each set lasting 10 to 12 repetitions.
On the first workout of the week, you’ll perform a battery of exercises that hit all of the major muscle groups, but you’ll place greater emphasis on your chest, shoulders and triceps. For your chest and shoulders, complete bench presses, chest flyes, pushups and shoulder presses. Each of your other muscle groups will be assigned one exercise. For your back, perform lat pulldowns. Complete biceps curls for your biceps and triceps extensions for your triceps. To develop your lower body, complete squats and deadlifts.
Workout two of the week will also target all of the major muscle groups, but this time you’ll put more emphasis on your lower-body muscles. Your leg component of the workout will consist of squats, lunges, step-ups, deadlifts and hamstring curls. Your chest, shoulders and triceps will likely still be recovering, so just complete dumbbell chest presses and lateral raises. Get your back with seated rows. For your biceps, schedule hammer curls and for your triceps, perform lying triceps extensions.
The last workout of the week will put focus on your back and biceps, while at the same time making all of the major muscle groups work. Lat pulldowns, seated rows and chinups will develop your back while also recruiting your biceps. Biceps curls and hammer curls will better isolate your biceps muscles. To allow your lower-body muscles to recover, your leg component will consist of just lunges. For your chest and shoulders, incorporate close-grip bench presses and dumbbell chest presses. Lastly, hit your triceps with overhead triceps extensions.
Kim Nunley has been screenwriting and working as an online health and fitness writer since 2005. She’s had multiple short screenplays produced and her feature scripts have placed at the Austin Film Festival. Prior to writing full-time, she worked as a strength coach, athletic coach and college instructor. She holds a master's degree in kinesiology from California State University, Fullerton.