The last thing we expected to learn at a fitness retreat was advice on how to put on weight, but that’s exactly what we took away from our weekend at the beach with the Tone It Up girls. Between group workouts and a rosé-fueled brunch we’re still drooling over, Karena and Katrina fielded questions on everything from how to build muscle mass (check out those guns above!) to the right way to approach rest days – and we loved their responses!

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to slim down, but we’re excited that, more and more, the focus is shifting from skinny to strong! Women are asking about how to gain svelte muscle tone and build sexy curves rather than just how to drop pounds. Whatever your approach, love the skin your in. Check out our notes from Karena and Katrina on gaining weight and muscle in healthful balance…

Don’t Roller Coaster. Lots of fitness professionals put on weight with a two stage approach – by bulking up for a period of time, then switching to a phase of dramatic fat loss. This “roller coater” strategy is effective, but can seriously mess with metabolism and is generally unsustainable. While sweater weather is a tempting time to enter a bulking phase, it’s significantly healthier to take a more dynamic approach by building muscle and burning fat simultaneously.

Sweat, Double Time. When trying to gain, aim to work out three times a week and twice on the days you’re committed to it: once in the morning and then again later. Use the morning session to focus on twenty minutes of high intensity interval training (HIIT) to torch fat and give a boost to your metabolism. Use the afternoon session for strength training with weights to build muscle mass.

Challenge Yourself. Gradually increase the amount of weight you use for strength training, but not so it kills you or so you start compromising breath or posture. Increase the weight to a point where just the end of a set feels like a struggle. You need to rip the muscles a little to make them grow, but only on a micro level – it should never cause pain.

Follow With Protein. Be sure to consume a clean, high-protein meal or smoothie within thirty minutes of a workout to help muscles re-fuel, recover and rebuild!

Rest Up. Put maximum effort into your workouts, but be sure to allow your body to recover after. Get plenty of sleep and take active steps to reduce daily stress by meditating, soaking in an essential oil bath or doing anything else that makes your body feel relaxed and your mind feel at-ease. You earned it!

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