Lean, muscled women typically have a low percentage of body fat and strong, lean muscles. If you are lucky enough to have this kind of body type, you should focus your fitness routine on maintaining your trim figure by doing cardio and toning and strengthening your muscles with resistance training. A regular exercise routine along with a balanced, healthful diet will help you maintain your lean physique while you get stronger.
Cardio Tempo Training
Cardio, or aerobic, exercise works your heart and lungs and helps you burn calories so you can stay lean and fit. Swimming, running and biking are all excellent forms of cardio. You may also do cardio on a machine at the gym, for example, a stationary bike, elliptical machine or stair climber. Begin with a five- minute warm up such as a brisk walk or jog, and then gradually increase your pace to a steady but challenging intensity, sustaining your workout for at least another 25 minutes. Cool down with a walk or slow jog and finish with stretches. Try to get your cardio workout in two to three times a week to maintain that lean, muscled look.
Cardio Interval Training
Vary your cardio tempo training with interval training, which means you alternate short bursts of speed with a slower, sustained pace. Varying your speed in this way can help you burn more calories and keep your body fat percentage low. The number of intervals you do will depend on your level of fitness. Try to finish four to eight intervals at a time with equal lengths of rest for a total of 30 minutes. As with tempo training, warm up with a slow jog and cool down at the end of your workout.
Supplement your cardio workouts with strength training or resistance workouts to build your lean muscle into strongly defined muscle mass. On the days you are not practicing cardio, get into the gym to use free weights or machines. You can also gain strength simply by using your body's resistance to do lunges, wall sits and squats for your lower body, push-ups for your upper body and sit-ups and Pilates exercises for toning your core muscles. Not only will you build more lean muscle by strength training, but you will also increase your body's resting metabolism, which helps you burn calories even when you are not working out.
In addition to your regular cardio and strength training exercises, maintaining a lean figure means watching what you eat. Get enough calories and nutrients you need by eating a balanced diet every day. Include fruits, vegetables, dairy products, grains and protein. Cut back on sugary and fatty snacks and drink water instead of sugary drinks as much as possible.
Joelle Dedalus began writing professionally for websites such as PugetSoundMagazine.com in 2009. She received her B.A. in English education at Iowa State University and is currently a M.F.A. candidate in creative nonfiction writing at Emerson College in Boston, where she is developing a manuscript on literary travel. Her areas of expertise include travel and literature, the outdoors and the arts.