Fitness as a lifestyle and no longer a trend, is on the rise. On social media, both women and men proudly display before-and-after weight loss photos, at-home workout routines, “gym rat” selfies, “what I eat in a day” videos, and more. 

Particularly for women, the mentality of fitness seems to be shifting away from losing weight to develop a skinny figure and instead moving toward building a strong body that celebrates visible muscular strength. We asked Kola Olaosebikan, a fitness expert and certified personal trainer at Koboko Fitness, for some fitness tips for building muscle to incorporate into your routine.

Free weights, resistance exercise, mixed-modal workouts and high intensity training programs are becoming more commonplace. Even bodybuilding is becoming more popular, particularly for women over 40. The International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness reports that almost half of the 150 women who competed across the U.S. in 2019 were over 40 — an age that often signals career’s end in sports. “A lot of us have seen women that look just like us transform their bodies. We’re seeing more women that we can relate to getting stronger, doing resistance-based exercises — not just cardio,” says Kola Olaosebikan.

Sculpt Your Ideal Body with These Fitness Tips for Building Muscle - Kola Olaosebikan.
Photo courtesy of Koboko Fitness

Olaosebikan advises a five-step method to get you started: 

  1. Set a goal. (Yes, ONE goal.)
  2. Research what regimen of patience, self-love, resistance training, cardio and diet makes sense for your one goal.
  3. Get on a solid training plan.
  4. Stay on the training plan for at least four weeks.
  5. Then start making changes to your diet.

If you’re looking to sculpt your ideal body naturally, combine a healthy diet, resistance training and some form of aerobic, heart-thumping exercise. If you’re not a regular gym junkie, this might seem intimidating. For more specific fitness tips for building muscle, Kola Olaosebikan shared these types of training to incorporate into your routine.



Resistance (Weight) Training

Pro Tip: “Start with bodyweight exercises. When you feel comfortable enough to add weights, start with a weight that you can do 8-12 repetitions with comfortably.” – Kola Olaosebikan

As the name implies, resistance training, or weight training, consists of using weights, body weight or resistance bands to cause your muscles to contract. If weights are new to you, book a personal trainer or private gym session to learn the basics. Once you have a good framework, you’ll be able to add different movements or more weight with time as your muscles build strength. As a beginner, try a set of dumbbells, kettlebells or a barbell in a weight that challenges you but doesn’t feel overwhelming. As you get more comfortable, try out exercise machines that target particular muscle groups. 

Fitness Tips for Building Muscle - Squats are a great exercise for building and toning muscles.

Here are some easy, but effective, exercises to get you started:

Lateral Raise (Shoulders)

Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your arms down by your side. Keeping your back and arms straight, lift the weights outward until your arms are parallel with the floor. Lower your arms back down to your starting position and repeat. Aim for 10-15 reps (completing one full movement for each rep) and two or three sets (take a short break between each set of reps). Aim for slow and controlled movements, focusing on feeling the muscles in your shoulders.

Bench Press (Chest, Biceps)

Using dumbbells or a barbell, lie on your back on a flat bench holding the weights above your chest with arms fully extended. Bend your elbows until the weight reaches your chest, pause and lift the weight up again. Aim for three sets of 10 reps. 

Deadlifts (Lower Back, Butt, Hamstrings)

Choose a weighted barbell that is comfortable but challenging and start with it on the floor. Grasp the bar and, keeping your back straight, chest out and knees slightly bent, lift until you’re standing. Hold for a few seconds. Slowly lower the weight back to the floor without rounding the spine. Aim for 4 sets of 5-6 reps.

Squats (Butt, Hamstrings)

“A great exercise to start with mastering resistance training is squats. You’re hitting some of the largest muscle groups in your body, which makes the time spent exercising more efficient,” says Olaosebikan. Using your body weight or holding a dumbbell in front of your chest, stand with your legs shoulder width apart. Bend your knees without allowing them to protrude past your toes and keep your back straight as you lower your body to sit in an invisible chair. Hold for a second then raise yourself back up to the standing position. 

Focus on Different Body Parts Each Day

If you’re interested in fitness tips for building muscle mass all over your body, structure your workouts using a split method. Using this method, you work on different body parts each day. Your plan could include chest, shoulders, back, arms and legs mapped out over five days with two days of rest. “When we’re doing resistance training, the recovery [and] rest period is just as important as the actual exercise training time. It is during recovery [and] rest that the body repairs itself, builds that muscle and changes,”  Olaosebikan explains.

Fitness Tips for Building Muscle - Kickboxing is a fun and efficient form of cardio.

Don’t Skip Cardio!

Pro Tip: “The heart is a muscle, we can’t see [it] but it is just as important to strengthen as it is to strengthen the muscles we can see.” – Kola Olaosebikan

Although often overlooked, cardio like walking, running, swimming, biking and even dancing is great for uncovering the sculpted look you’re creating through strength training. It also helps improve blood circulation, breathing and bone density all while reducing stress and improving mental health. If you’re looking to burn fat and build muscle at the same time, incorporating high intensity interval training (HIIT), sprints, sled drags or even boxing will help tone your glutes, abs, core and legs. Aim for 30 minutes of cardio four or five days a week. 

Our thanks to Kola Olaosebikan of for these tips.


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