18 of the Most Muscular Women on Instagram

Muscle GROWTH makes you stronger – inside and out

As you begin your journey toward muscle growth, it’s important to remember that building muscle has a multitude of benefits for women. Not only does it boost your metabolism, which turns your body into a more efficient fat-burning machine, but it also does wonders for your self-confidence. You will stand taller and feel more sure about yourself when you walk into a room. Plus, strength training has been shown to slow bone loss, reducing the risk of fractures associated with osteoporosis.

If you’re worried about bulking up, don’t bother; men and women who work out three to five times a week will not experience the same muscle growth. Women’s testosterone levels are about 20% lower than men’s, which means if you do want to get those biceps and triceps bulging, you’ll have to seriously increase your calorie intake and target workouts to reach your goal.

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Rachelle Carter

Rachelle Carter is insanely fit, but look at her Instagram and you’ll mostly see photos of her incredible cosplay. From Poison Ivy to Link and even Harley Quinn, Carter has done it all. 

Cydney Gillon

From excelling at track sports to competing on Survivor to winning the Figure Olympia title three times, Cydney Gillon isn’t one to rest for long, and her physique is all the proof you need. 

Eat right: Tips for forging muscle

A proper diet is essential to build muscle. The following foods can help you get stronger:

  • Water: Did you know that your muscles are largely made of water? Make sure to get plenty of fluids through your diet: salad and other vegetables contain a lot of water.
  • Eggs: You need plenty of protein to build muscle. Eggs are a great source of high-quality protein.
  • Legumes: Beans and lentils not only contain protein, but zinc, too. The latter is especially important for muscle growth. Without it your body cannot build muscle. Our tip: Avoid eating legumes before your workout. They are high in fiber and thus heavy on the stomach.
  • Berries: These fruits are true nutritional powerhouses. Berries not only help you lose weight, but they also promote muscle growth.
  • Meat and fish: After an intense workout, meat and fish help you replenish your protein stores.
  • Nuts: Different varieties like walnuts, almonds, or Brazil nuts contain protein and many important fatty acids. You also shouldn’t forget about vegetable fats (like olive oil and canola oil).

Step 3: Adopt A Progressive Overload Training Scheme

Picking bang-for-your-buck moves and setting a training schedule is a solid start when it comes to packing on muscle, but according to Wilson, those gains will fizzle out if you’re not continuously challenging your muscles.

Enter: progressive overload, or essentially, increasing the intensity of your strength exercises through increased volume (or weight), reps and sets, frequency, or even time-under-tension (or how long it takes to complete a single rep, further challenging your muscles).

“Progressive overload adds stress to your muscles, allowing them to break down, rebuild, and get stronger.”

Why’s this important? “Your body is always in a state of adaptation, and eventually you’ll notice that the same set and rep scheme is no longer difficult to complete,” says Wilson. “Progressive overload adds stress to your muscles, allowing them to break down, rebuild, and get stronger.”

But how much (and when) should you up the ante when training for progressive overload? Wilson notes that a five to 10 percent increase each week, for any given variable, is a solid start. An increase beyond that amount could up your risk for injury, she explains (say, going in for a 30-pound dumbbell chest press for six reps when the week prior you were hitting 15 pounds for that same number of reps).

Step 5: Dont Neglect Rest

While this step might seem like the least-important factor in packing on muscle, according to Wilson, it’s absolutely paramount. “Rest is essential for muscle growth,” she explains, noting that your muscles need roughly 48 to 72 hours of rest in between strength sessions. (FYI: Dividing up training days based on lower- and upper-body moves can help keep you at three to five days of training per week!)

Sleep plays an important role too, she says. “Your muscles and tissues are replenished and restored during your sleep phase. Your brain is resting with very little activity, so your blood supply available to your muscles increases, delivering extra oxygen and nutrients so they can heal and grow.”

Davis recommends putting screens away an hour before bed and keeping your room dark and cool. Aim for seven to nine hours of quality sleep per night. That means, don’t cut out a few hours of sleep to make time for a morning workout: “Skipping sleep is only going to hurt your progress.”

Kristine Thomason Fitness & Wellness Editor Kristine Thomason is the fitness & wellness editor at Women’s Health, where she edits, writes, and helps oversee the food and fitness sections of the website and magazine.

Julia Sullivan, CPT Julia Sullivan, CPT, is a New York City-based writer, indoor rowing instructor, outdoor enthusiast, newbie powerlifter, and devoted cat mother.

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