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  • need to gain weight but how to make the weight gain lean muscle?

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    Old 01-17-2009, 02:25 PM   #1
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    need to gain weight but how to make the weight gain lean muscle?

    I'm a 30 year old female and workout regularly, but lately, I've been losing too much weight. If I scale back my workout (fewer days a week, less weight lifting), I start having issues with anxiety and panic attacks. Regular exercise has worked the best at keeping my anxiety at bay. But I've gotten to the point where I've gotten too skinny. I'm 5'4" and weigh around 100 lb. I would like to gain weight but not excess fat and would prefer to gain muscle. I already eat a lot of calories daily (probably around 2500-3000 cal.) as I'm breastfeeding and chasing around a toddler all day. I have had bloodwork done at my PCP but all came back normal and she said some women have a hard time keeping weight on while breastfeeding. I know a lot of what I eat is not healthy calories (cookies, chocolate, etc.). But I don't know what to eat or take to gain muscle. I don't want the physique of a bodybuilder, just nice lean muscle.

    Generally, I do 45 min. of cardio daily, walking/jogging on the treadmill or on the elliptical trainer and lift weights 3 times a week (working abs, legs, arms, glutes). Every time I try to do less intense cardio, the panic attacks get worse, and I'd rather not end up addicted to Xanax, which is the alternative. I'm also looking into starting acupuncture, with a hope that that will help my anxiety issues.

    But for now, I need the gym time, it is the only time of the day I'm not watching my 13 month old baby--I'm a stay at home mom--(she's extremely clingy and attention-demanding) and sometimes I just need to do intense cardio to stay sane. But getting too skinny isn't good either, so I just don't know what to do.

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    Old 01-17-2009, 04:23 PM   #2
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    Re: need to gain weight but how to make the weight gain lean muscle?

    You may want to add some weight training with your big muscles, like chest (e.g. pushups, bench presses) and back (e.g. pullups, rows). The smaller arm and leg muscles can only grow so much, while the bigger chest and back muscles have more potential for muscle weight gain. You may also want to look into body weight exercises or those requiring no or minimal equipment (e.g. pushups, pullups, dips, crunches, etc.) for those times when you cannot go to the gym (e.g. because you need to be at home with the infant) but want to do some additional strength training.

    Also, you may want to consider rowing or swimming for your cardio workout, since it is a full body workout as opposed to only a lower body workout.

    To increase muscle, you do need sufficient protein in your diet. If you replace the cookies and junk food with quality protein, like fish, lean other meat, skim milk dairy products, eggs, beans, etc., that may help if your protein intake is currently insufficient.

    Old 01-18-2009, 09:03 AM   #3
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    Re: need to gain weight but how to make the weight gain lean muscle?

    I agree with you about not scaling back your workouts because I know anxiety is not something you want to make worse! Have you tried doing anything a little bit more slow paced? Like instead of jogging for 45 minutes, walk on an incline or do something with added resistance. More resistance can help you build some more muscle. I also find that pilates is a great exercise for relaxing and de-stressing, without burning too many calories. I could do the pilates and stay in shape without even really working up a sweat. Another idea may be adding some protein shakes to your diet. I like whey protein and I get a sugar-free variety. Try having one maybe after your workout, or as a snack during the day. I usually use them more as a meal replacement, but adding them to your meals can help aid in healthy weight gain.

    Good luck! I hope you are able to find something that works for you!

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