Bodybuilder and personal trainer Zinhle Masango. Picture: Supplied
Forget about women wanting to be stick thin - looking strong, lean and healthy is the latest fitness trend.

Many women are going for a strong look with bigger muscles and venturing into bodybuilding to bulk up.

Experts say bigger and stronger muscles tone the body, boost metabolism, improve strength, body composition and posture, slows down ageing and helps shed fat.

Here are a few tips:

Cardio

Cardio helps you to lose excess fat and it also stimulates your metabolism to work better even when you’re not working out.

Fitness enthusiast, Juanita Khumalo said cardio is important for bodybuilding because your muscle tissue recovers faster, your tissue gains the capacity to perform more efficiently and it’s good for the heart.

If using a treadmill you can set the incline high and gradually increase the speed throughout. You can also include a rowing machine. It engages all your muscles, and incline treadmill sprinting to help you reach your goal, she said.

As long as you keep moving, do things you love and enjoy it won’t feel like a chore.

Supplements

Using supplements can make a noticeable difference in setting your goals for bodybuilding.

Khumalo said: “Combining them with the right diet and exercise can yield really great results. However, because some of them are not regulated, I suggest that one does intensive research before investing in them and read the labels carefully to ensure that they do not contain anything harmful.”

She recommends

Use branched-chain amino acids during your workout. They are a group of amino acids that show better results when training and help with energy production and muscle growth.

Protein shakes before and after workouts help with muscle synthesis and growth.

Vitamin and mineral supplements help to alleviate nutrient deficiencies, aid recovery and provide many other health benefits such as calcium, potassium, and vitamin D.

Nutrition

Nutrition is fundamental to building a great physique.

Nutritionist Zinhle Masango said we often hear about the “80/20” rule. It’s basically that when it comes to fitness, it’s 80% diet and nutrition and 20% gym.

“The best advice I can give is for people to have a goal in mind. That will determine if we will be working with a caloric deficit or surplus.”

Nutrients are mainly broken into macronutrients and micronutrients.

Macronutrients are the ones we need to take in large quantities. These include carbohydrates, protein and fats.

Weightlifting

Aneeka Buys, a qualified master trainer and founder of the Fit Girl, said people need to be patient when building muscle.

“It took me 10 years to gain 5kg of muscle mass. It is a difficult and tedious process, but your body will thank you for it. I started exercising to alleviate my back and shoulder pain and strengthen my core after having children. The goal is never aesthetic, always strength.”

For lifting weights, she recommends:

Getting checked by a doctor before starting a new workout regimen. Good form is more important than lifting heavy.

There are different types of weightlifting. They are broken down into machine-based, free weight-based and powerlifting exercises

So, start slow and make sure you have the mechanics of the movement down before you add weight. Also, if you’re unsure, ask for help.

If you are following a good programme and training consistently, you should see results in as little as four weeks.