I’ve been reading all over the place how women should lift heavy because it is merely a myth that women will get bulky from lifting weights. Well, this is true for some women, but is not true for everyone. Some women will get bulky if they just take this advice to heart without taking anything else into consideration. The key is understanding what strength training does to the body, and utilizing it to tone areas of your body. You can’t spot reduce fat, but you can spot increase and tone muscle.
Keep in mind that the number one factor for fat gain or fat loss is your diet. Exercise can be used to accelerate fat loss and to tone muscles and give you shape, but is not effective alone for shedding fat. Diet ALWAYS wins.
Below lists how to tone your body without getting bulky:
1. Start with your body type
Do you put muscle on easily? Do you gain weight easily? Or do you have a hard time gaining weight? These are the questions you should ask yourself first. One exercise does not fit all, and you need to tailor your workouts to your specific goals.
For women who put muscle on super easy, heavy weights are going to make those muscles exponentially larger -which can make you look bulky if you aren’t losing fat. For women who are of a thinner build and have a harder time gaining weight, they will likely need to lift heavier to gain more muscle.
2. Lift heavy where you are the smallest
This is for the same reason above. If you continue to work a muscle over and over again, it gets stronger, and larger! Use this to your advantage to balance out your body. For example, if you have very strong legs and small arms and back, then you’ll want to do exercises that help to build up your top half to balance your bottom half.
3. Do HIIT (high intensity interval training)
This is hands-down, the best workout to shed fat specifically while maintaining lean body mass. This exercise is both muscle toning and muscle preserving, whereas steady-state cardio is muscle wasting. This is a type of cardio exercise that burns a ton of calories during the exercise, as well as after. It works your muscles hard, but with your own body weight.
4. Use body weight exercises to tone larger muscles
Body weight exercises are great for strengthening and lengthening all muscles, but it should definitely be the type of exercise you want to tone areas you don’t necessarily want to get bigger. Building muscle with body weight exercises helps to define and tone trouble areas, without adding massive growth.
Yoga, pilates, and barre are all great classes that target the small, underworked muscles that will help to tone and define trouble spots.
Remember that all exercises are good for you in one way or another. Use the above as a guide, and also remember diet is number one when it comes to weight – so make sure your diet is in check first!