What I know about Fitness...
First, if you are a woman, you need to set aside your fears of getting too muscular and “bulking up” and start lifting weights. The bottom line is that most women — unless they have unusual genetics that cause them to put on gobs of muscle or are on anabolic steroids — will never build the kind of “freaky” muscle mass you see in professional female bodybuilders.
Most women, no matter how heavy they lifted or how frequently they performed resistance training, Most women just don’t have the hormonal environment for that kind of mass (most of the time Men don't either....) In fact, Some women pack on more muscle then men do.... But that is very few... So forget about bulking up!!!!
Stop worrying about ”bulking up” !!!! it’s probably keeping you from reaching your fitness goals and it’s inhibiting your ability to build that muscle definition and shape that you are likely looking for.
If you are currently performing 60 minutes or more of cardio a day and NOT dedicating at least three days a week to weight training, it’s going to keep you from getting a ”toned body.” You cannot run or stair-step your way to muscle (unless your are using some major resistance on the stair stepper or elliptical, and even then, your gains will be modest.)
If you are performing long-duration cardio on a daily basis along with your weight training, you are going to have difficulties adding much muscle. In fact, it may actually cause you to lose muscle, which can lead to the “fat skinny” syndrome, where you have low scale weight, but higher body-fat-to-lean-muscle ratios. This is not going to give you a tight, “toned” look.
There are exceptions, of course. For instance, if you are already carrying a large amount of muscle on your frame, you may be able to afford some muscle loss as part of an effort to strip off additional body fat with more cardio. But in general — especially among women — most people put too much emphasis on long duration cardio. Yes, it’s good for your heart, helps you burn calories and makes you feel good, but it needs to be kept in check. Besides, I would rather take a beating then get on the treadmill..Not unless Im upset then I love it! lol..It helps...
One approach that many people find effective is to limit their cardio to no more than 30 minutes, but increase the intensity by either adding resistance, speed, or in the case of a treadmill — incline — to work out harder, but for shorter periods of time.
This is known as High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and there is some research that indicates it may be more effective at burning fat — especially abdominal fat — while preserving lean tissue than solid-state long duration or distance cardio. Interval training has you literally alternating between high-intensity bursts of 1-2 minutes, followed by a recovery period of 2-3 minutes, and then another burst of higher intensity. You can accomplish a similar effect during running by increasing your speed to a sprint for a short period, or running 100 yard dashes at a local track or field.
If you aren’t including 45-60 minutes of weight or resistance training at least three times a week in your workout schedule, it’s time to change that. To get “toned” you need muscle — and the only way you will add muscle is by weight training.
Building muscle mass and size requires constantly challenging your muscles with increasing levels of resistance — this is also known as “progression” in weight training jargon. This applies to both men and women.