It’s not too late to become leaner, stronger, and healthier. Women can get lean without getting bulky at any age using the right exercise routines, diet, and lifestyle. With a lean and toned body, you can improve your posture, enhance coordination, and avoid weight gain.
For older women, a leaner and stronger body will help slow down muscle loss due to aging. Exercise and weight training can prevent injury and relieve pain as well. If you’re ready to get toned, let’s start learning some important things about lifting weights.
Will Women Get Bulky If They Lift Weights?
Some women are afraid of lifting weights because they think they will develop a bulky appearance. Some also say women should use lighter weights to develop a toned body without bulking up.
These are two common misconceptions about weight training in women. Both men and women must train using bigger and heavier weights AND combine weight training with the right form and diet to get the best results.
Women won’t bulk up compared to men because they have different physiologies. Men have a high testosterone level which is responsible for muscle growth and development.
When men lift weights and engage in strength training, they develop larger and bulkier muscles. Meanwhile, women have low testosterone, and thus they can engage in weight training and exercise without developing a bulky appearance.
Also, different women have different forms and body types, and therefore, the result of weight training may vary in each one. Some may gain more muscle faster than others using simple weight and strength training, while some may take more strenuous activities to develop leaner and larger bodies.
Weight and strength training alone won’t cut it. Women who want to develop a leaner and healthier-looking body should also eat the right diet and live a healthier lifestyle.
How To Get Lean Without Getting Bulky?
A leaner body takes time to develop. You need to eat the right kind of food and adopt a healthier lifestyle together with strength training to achieve a leaner and healthier figure. It’s also about getting to know your body and understanding your fitness goals: start right and clear skies towards your goal!
Know Your Body Type
Women are not created equal. Walk along the street, and you’ll find women in different shapes and forms. Some young adults are chubbier, while some thinner. Some older adults are heavier, while others are more slender. The reason for these differences is the concept of somatotypes or body types.
There are three general body types: ectomorphs, endomorphs, and mesomorphs. Some people fall into one category, while some belong to a combination of two or three body types. Learning about your body type can help you reach your goals and plan your daily fitness regimen.
People with long and lean bodies with very little body fat and muscle are called ectomorphs. These people may find it hard to gain weight and muscle. People who belong to this category are usually basketball players and fashion models.
Some women may envy female ectomorphs with supermodel features with their lovely and fit frames. However, most that have this type of body desire to have softer and leaner curves. Women ectomorphs have small and delicate bone structures, flat chest, small shoulders, and lean muscles. They find it hard to gain weight because of their active metabolism.
People who easily gain weight and those with a lot of fat and muscle are called endomorphs. The most common example of this body type is a football player. A football player is heavier and stronger but not overweight. Due to their physiology, sluggish metabolism, endomorphs are more sensitive to eating high-calorie foods than other body types. Women endomorphs have more fat along the buttocks, hips, and thighs. The body shape used to describe female endomorphs is the “pear shape.”
The third body type is the mesomorph. Mesomorphs have large muscles and bone structures. They are athletic and have bodies similar to bodybuilders. Mesomorphs can gain weight easily, but they can easily lose it as well. They have a hard body with defined muscles and are also stronger.
A mesomorph will respond better to weight training, and they can see muscle gains fast, even for beginners. But as they gain fat easier than other types, they must always be aware of their calorie intake.
|Ectomorphs||little body fat and muscle, does not gain weight easily|
|Endomorphs||high body fat and muscle, gains weight easily|
|Mesomorphs||can lose and gain weight, fat, and muscle easily|
Combination Body Types
It is also common for men and women to have combination body types. A woman may come with pear-shaped thighs and hips but with thin and frail upper bodies. Some are called endo-ectomorphs that have higher fat along the midsection but have smaller and thinner lower extremities. Meanwhile, some people who are pure mesomorphs may gain weight like endomorphs.
But no matter what body type you have, you can grow a leaner and more muscular body with combination exercise, weight training, diet, and lifestyle changes. Use the different body types as a guide, and you’ll achieve your leaner, healthier and stronger body in no time.
Build Lean Muscles
Engage in 2 to 3 strength-building routines a week
Strength training helps create a better and more resilient body. You can engage in various strength training routines, including lifting weights, engaging in power yoga, using HIIT, or performing bodyweight exercises.
You can build muscles even without heading to the gym or using weights. All you need is to use your bodyweight. Also, using lighter weights with more repetitions is more effective in building muscles than using heavy weights with only a few repetitions. Simply perform exercise routines until your muscles are too tired or need a break.
If you can do more reps, then perform them. You will eventually be able to take more repetitions as you become stronger. Remember this rule when you lift weights, HIIT, or perform different bodyweight exercises.
Perform Isotonic and Isometric Exercises
Performing more repetitions until you feel fatigued is one way to gain a leaner and stronger body. Engaging in routines in a yoga class where you remain stationary gives you the same benefits when you walk as long as you repeat movements until fatigue. Yoga poses and other similar activities (planking, glute bridges, boat poses, and wall sit) are isometric.
Meanwhile, muscle contraction can also build strength and power, which is what isotonic exercise offers. Some of the most common examples of isotonic exercises are squats, crunches, push-ups, and donkey kicks.
A fitness regimen that combines isometric and isotonic exercises can work wonders with your body. Beginners and those with painful or aching joints may start with isometric exercises before proceeding with isotonic exercises. But if you want to try both, perform three sets.
High-intensity interval training will get your heart pumping giving you a fantastic cardio training experience. HIIT exercises will stimulate your heart to deliver more blood and oxygen to the different organs and tissues. When done properly and safely, HIIT will yield good results in the quickest time. Some of the exercises included in regular HIIT circuits are burpees, mountain climbers, and side-plank movements.
Modify Routines as Needed
As you go along, you will notice how your body responds to your doing’s fitness regimen. Alter your routines depending on where your body is at present. For example, beginners may use a bench or wall to perform push-ups; those who want to improve their routines can go faster or use a bench for a more challenging workout.
Choose The Right Kind of Training
Don’t be overwhelmed with tons of strength and muscle-building programs to get lean. Instead, focus on specific strength training routines for your body type. Consider the following routines.
Ectomorphs training routines
Because ectomorphs find it hard to gain weight and grow muscles because of their fat metabolism, workout routines should be shorter and more intense. A special focus on the large muscle groups is important.
Ectomorphs should engage in full-body strength and muscle routines. Maximum intensity workouts that target the upper and lower body is best. Ectomorphs should use supplements to support their routines; eating at night is encouraged to avoid muscle catabolism.
Endomorphs training routines
Endomorphs gain weight easily, but most of the weight gained is fat and not muscle. Therefore, cardio training is recommended, plus taking a high protein diet. Supplements may not be needed for this body type. Endomorphs could use workouts that target fat loss, cardio routines, and ripped muscle workouts.
Mesomorph training routines
Mesomorphs gain muscle fast but will also gain fat faster than ectomorphs. This is why a combination of cardio training and weight training is needed. Workouts that focus on hypertrophy of the upper and lower extremities are best. Routines that focus on mass muscle building split workouts, and a good meal plan (lower-calorie diet) is essential.
A combination body type will get the best results with combination cardio and strength/muscle training. It’s best to talk to a workout coach or a professional trainer to determine what type of routine works for your body type.
Avoid pulling or carrying too much weight to prevent injuries. Don’t rely on routines that include starving or avoiding certain foods. Remember that your body needs all the different food groups and nutrients to stay healthy and grow a leaner and healthier body.
Adjust Your Diet
Diet is a crucial part of getting a lean and healthy body. Women should commit to a healthier diet to get the best results.
Starving or concentrating on one food group is not a good way to grow lean and strong. The body needs a combination of high-protein foods and fats and carbohydrates as energy sources. Some foods should also be avoided; this will be discussed later.
Best Food for a Leaner Body
Eat more of the following foods to get a toned and leaner body
- Eggs – contains top-quality protein and B vitamins.
- Chicken breast – contains protein, B vitamins, especially niacin and B6
- Salmon – has high protein content and omega -3 fatty acids.
- Tuna – with high protein, vitamin A, B vitamins, and omega-3 fatty acids
- Lean Beef – with top quality protein, minerals, B vitamins, and creatine
- Soybeans – contains protein, unsaturated fats, minerals, and vitamins
- Shrimp – is pure protein and zero carbs. With leucine for muscle growth
- Turkey breast – excellent protein source, niacin, and carbohydrates
- Beans – high protein, B vitamins, iron, phosphorus, magnesium, and fiber content
- Cottage cheese – high protein, amino acid leucine, and fats
- Protein powders – whey and casein are the most popular.
- Chickpeas – high carbohydrates and protein content
- Tofu – good protein, fat, and carbohydrates source
- Buckwheat – high protein, carbohydrates, and fiber
- Milk – high fat, carbohydrates, and protein content
- Almonds – rich in protein, vitamin E, phosphorous, and magnesium
- Brown rice – rich in carbohydrates, low protein
What to Avoid When Trying to Get Toned
Avoid the following if you want to grow a leaner and healthier body.
- Potato chips and French fries – high-calorie foods
- Sugary beverages – high calories, high sugar food
- Candy bars – high calories, low nutrient content
- White bread – high sugar, gluten
- Commercial fruit juices –highly processed drinks, high sugar, no fiber
Calorie counting is standard to build leaner and stronger muscles. Consuming enough calories to fuel your daily metabolic needs and additional calories to refine muscles BUT not too much to add weight, is crucial.
Women usually need 1,600 to 2,400 calories daily. The number may depend on a person’s age, metabolism, height, weight, activity levels, and more. Consuming an extra 250 to 500 calories a day can help build muscle.
Finally, portion control is necessary, so you’ll have a daily balance of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats in your daily diet. Portion control, especially when it comes to consuming protein, is important. Experts say that consuming around 1.6 to 1.8 grams of protein/kilogram of body weight is needed daily. Consume high-quality protein, which includes fish, poultry, eggs, red meat, and hemp seeds.
Burn Body Fat
Women should engage in activities that will help them burn fat and develop or maintain leaner and stronger muscles. Your body should have less fat, more pronounced muscles by exercising and eating the correct diet. Consider the following techniques to burn body fat effectively:
Use Aerobics and Weights
Tame your muscles by engaging in strength training. You may use weights, which is the most common form of strength training, or perform aerobics exercises. It can be any activity that requires resistance; you will eventually build leaner and stronger muscles.
According to experts, 10+ weeks of resistance training will enhance calories burned while at rest and reduce fat.
Avoid Bad Fats and Carbohydrates
Increase intake of good fats to avoid weight gain as this will make you feel fuller longer. Avoid foods high in trans-fat as these can boost body fat and belly or midsection fat.
Focus on a high protein diet instead. Choose high-quality protein sources to enhance muscle mass and boost metabolism. Some of the best examples are legumes, seafood, meats, eggs, and dairy.
Improve Bad Sleeping Habits
Having a good sleeping habit can enhance fat burning and avoid weight gain. People who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to gain more weight as poor sleep affects hormones related to appetite and hunger.
Eat More Fiber
Choose soluble fiber as these will make you feel fuller for a longer time. Increasing intake of foods high in fiber can also protect from fat development and weight gain.
Engage in HIIT
Perform fitness routines that involve quick bursts of activity and faster recovery to elevate your heart rate. HIIT can boost fat burning and help promote your ideal weight. Also, HIIT can burn higher calories faster compared to engaging in cardio exercises.
Try Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting is moving through periods of fasting and eating. Experts say that this kind of fasting can promote weight loss and maintain muscle form and mass when partnered with strength or resistance training routines.
Choose the Right Kind of Cardio
Cardio exercises can boost heart rate and help you burn more calories. To create a leaner, healthier, and stronger body, select the right kind of cardio routine. You can also mix routines or use multiple cardio activities if you want.
Using an Elliptical Machine
An elliptical machine is a gym and home exercise equipment that can help you form lean and stronger muscles. Elliptical trainers depict natural movements when climbing, walking, or running without causing a lot of pressure on the knees and hips joints. Apart from this, your upper arm also gets a workout.
Elliptical machines have varying speeds and levels plus, some machines can even monitor your heart rate, number of steps, and other vitals. Using an elliptical machine daily and increasing resistance can help provide good cardio training.
Running at a Moderate Phase
Running on a treadmill or running outdoors in a moderate phase can also be a good cardio exercise. Everyone can run no matter how old or what physical condition. Also, running helps you burn calories, enhance your strength and form.
You don’t have to go out to perform cardio routines. You can use the stairs to work out; just climb up and down and gradually increase your pace and speed. Perform this routine until fatigue and progressively improve your stats daily.
Another easy way to do cardio is to jump rope. You can easily add resistance by doing more repetitions daily or walking or running while jumping rope.
Swimming is both a cardio and leisure activity. You can perform laps around your pool, increase the number of laps as you go along.
Take your bike and get some fresh air as you perform cardio training. You can plot your trips and ride on difficult and higher terrains to increase resistance.
High-intensity training is also one of the best cardio activities. Increase repetitions until your muscles feel fatigued; doing so will help you develop leaner and stronger muscles fast.
Listen to Your Body
As you push your body to the limits with strength and resistance training, you should also learn to listen to what your body is saying. Do you find routines getting easier and easier day after day? Then you can perform more repetitions or add weights to make workouts more challenging. For instance, if stair climbing is easy despite multiple repetitions, you can climb up and down with weights. Increase the weights to increase resistance as you go along. But if you feel tired, take a rest.
Always remember that challenging your body will lead to amazing results. This is what successful trainers, athletes, and professionals do to develop a leaner, stronger, and healthier body.
- Check yourself in the mirror. Find out if you’re getting results from your training.
- Do you easily feel tired after a few repetitions, or can you go for more?
- Check your weight, measurements, and vital stats (heart rate, BP, and pulse) before and after exercise or workout.
- Do you feel any type of pain when performing your routines? If so, discontinue your workout routines. Rest and try performing your routines another day.
Don’t Forget to Assess and Adjust
As you listen to what your body is saying, you should also assess and adjust your routines accordingly. Find out which type of workout, diet, and schedule works for you. Also, check your body for symmetrical results.
Perform Workout Routines One at a Time
To find out which routine works for you, perform them one at a time. One of the most common mistakes is taking too much too soon and not waiting for the results. Workout routines such as weight training and resistance training routines will first tire you and then test you. Only after completing weeks of training will you be able to get the results you need. Also, follow workout steps closely and avoid improvising. You’ll get better results if you follow the system. When you finally find the routine that works, stick with it.
Make a Record of Your Daily Food Intake
Like writing events in your diary, make a record of your daily intake, especially the number of calories. This will determine what type of food works and if you need to increase or decrease your calorie intake.
Make a Record of Your Cardio and Workout Performance
Make a record of cardio and workout routines as well. You can use fitness apps like Nike+, Google Fit, MyFitnessPal, Fitness, MapMyFitness, or BodySpace. These handy apps are compatible with Android and iOS devices.
Consult a Professional If You Need Help With Exercise and Diet
If you need help with selecting or adjusting your fitness regimen, don’t hesitate to ask for help from a professional. You can also ask help from a dietician for the right kind of food to help you slim down and develop a leaner figure.
The secret to getting lean without getting bulky is self-discipline. You should use routines that will help you trim your body, enhance strength and promote health. Along with the right workout routine, you need to support your muscles with the correct diet that includes top proteins, healthy fats, and carbohydrates.
Finally, switching to a healthy lifestyle that includes early and adequate sleep and engaging in active sports is necessary. Monitor which activity works best for you; adjust your routines and diet to get the best results.