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“You won’t bulk up.” How many times have we heard this? For those of us who are convinced we can bulk up with certain exercises, but hear countless times that it’s not possible, well the later are wrong. We can. And I am one of them.

Despite having lower testosterone than men and regardless of watching what we eat, women with certain genetic makeups – especially those with small body frames – can build muscle easily and quickly, particularly in their thighs and buttock where fast twitch muscle is also often found. The muscle build up is often accomplished with resistance training, which is ANY form of exercise that causes a muscle to contract AGAINST an external resistance, creating a burn and a pump then a build in muscle. Not only is this with accomplished weights, but with popular cardio equipment including the treadmill, elliptical, and bicycle.

So what is a girl to do if that is the look she isn’t going for? What if she just wants to be tone and not overly muscular? Train for leanness and endurance.

We all know weight-training tones your muscles and can build muscle size. Increasing the weights used and the speed of reps can result in building muscle. So for muscles responding quickly to resistance, do the opposite. Perform more repetitions (15) with lighter weights completed within 90 seconds. Rest time should only be between 15 to 30 seconds for a cardio burn.

You may continue with your indoor cardio – running on a treadmill, pumping on an elliptical, and spinning a bike – but lower your tension on the equipment and limit your time to no more than 30 minutes a day.

If you can run outside versus on a treadmill, then do so. A treadmill forces your run through it’s push and pull resistance while a run outside is powered by 100% of you. You can also increase your cardio to longer than 30 minutes with the mechanical resistance now gone and up your days to five week since the movement of outdoor running will only make you leaner with amount of calories burned.

Also, incorporate exercises into your daily routine that helps to elongate your muscles, such as stretching, yoga, Pilates, swimming, walking, hiking, skating, and cross-country skiing. Sign up for a recreational soccer or basketball league. Join a running club. Play tennis, racquetball, or pickleball. Walk the course when playing golf.

Undoubtedly, you will need to do trial and error with your muscle-strengthening exercises before determining which workouts work best for you and your personal genetic makeup. Once discovered, set your limits and stick within those boundaries. Your goal is within reach.

Be Fit. Be Strong. Be Well.