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The Quest for Bowling Ball Glutes and Pumpkin Delts, AKA Building Season

I started working with my coach on July 5 of this year. Since then, I have lost 15 pounds and shaped up my lower body more than I thought was possible for a 48 (now 49)-year-old. So that’s great, right? I’m ready to compete, right? Nope. This bod needs more muscles on it first. The last few weeks have started a building phase, which means my calories have increased and I’m working on adding muscle. Let’s talk about this process.

When a person starts lifting weights, it’s very common for her to quickly make strength gains and add muscle. These are called “newbie gains” and people who have been lifting for a while are so jealous of this phenomenon. It’s because your muscles haven’t had that stimulus before and they are freaking EXCITED about it. Like all good things, though, it can’t last forever. I always say, if you kept getting stronger and increasing your weights with every workout, we would all be benching 500 pounds. But eventually the newbie gains stop and even if you do keep getting stronger, it’s harder to add muscle. Why is this bad? It just depends on your goals.

A lot of women start off just wanting to lose weight. Weight lifting is critical to this process. The reasons why is a topic for a whole other article. Once you lose body fat, you may want to do more to change the actual shape of your body. For me, every time I lose body fat, I discover that my glutes are a lot smaller than they appeared when there was more body fat on top of them! To be a successful competitor in bikini, I need to build my glutes and shoulders. The process for this: lift more weights and eat more food.

Eating more food sounds fun, right? That can’t be hard, right? I do get to eat more food, but the actual foods don’t change. It’s still rice, sweet potatoes, oats, chicken, ground turkey, cod, lean ground beef…just more quantity. It’s not carte blanche to eat whatever you want all the time. Doing that just puts on the body fat that will hide your hard-earned muscle.

And then the lifting. I love lifting weights. But I know I don’t push myself HARD every single time I lift. To really add muscle, those weights have to be difficult. It has to be uncomfortable and you have to push for two more reps when you think you can’t do any more. You literally have to bully those muscles into growing.

I only have a few months to make some gainzzz, so every workout counts and my goal is to really, really push and ramp up the intensity to see what I can accomplish in that time frame. Stay with me, I’ll keep you updated :)



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Stacy Hesse
Stacy Hesse
Oct 17, 2023

You are amazing--your dedication to both yourself and to us is truly wonderful. You're a great example that we can do hard things! Keep it up--we're all cheering you on!

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