What is The Best Type of Exercise Based on Your Muscle Type

I’m excited to take you through your journey of a healthy lifestyle that includes exercise as a key component.

If you followed along in the 3 Part series, I wrote a while back I talked specifically about how a plan and routine are so important to your healthy lifestyle and even walked you through step by step of how to make an exercise plan and routine. This process originally set up your exercise plan, with ANY and ALL activities that you enjoy doing, that require you to elevate your heart rate, and instructed you to dedicate a number of days per week for 30 minutes to doing the activity. The initial point was to understand that energy burned is made up of many things, and does not mean spending countless hours in the gym, on the treadmill, bike, lifting weights, etc., it can be fun and included social activities that you enjoy! And if you enjoy it, you are more likely to stick with it!

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You will find that as I cover more details around exercise I will share more prescriptive routines and more prescriptive types of activities. The point of this is to dial in on how to make the most of the time you set aside for physical activity. Remembering that “abs are made in the kitchen” will be important to routinely reflect on as we go through this. 

This post we will talk about:

  • Are you doing the right exercises for your goals and muscle type?
  • 3 Types of Exercise: Cardio, Active Rest, Weight Lifting (workouts for each)

Just because you did 30 minutes on the treadmill DOES NOT mean that you get to “reward yourself” with a cookie…

I’ll turn my head while you drink that extra glass of wine (hey, momma’s gotta cope am I right?”). 

…But seriously, you are not a pet, you do not need a treat for doing something good – and if you do, set goals and reward yourself with something that doesn’t have a calorie count!

Because this blog touches so many at such different levels of fitness, I’m going to share try and keep this as basic as possible. This doesn’t mean that the information/post isn’t relevant to you, it will be, the ideals imbedded will be extremely beneficial. Especially if you are someone starting “new” to all of this and as the “newness” and excitement of your vigorous workout plan begins to fade, and you are looking for another activity to involve yourself in.

Another reason I start slow and build up your strength and endurance, is so that your body stays healthy. Adding extreme physical activity to your daily routine can set you back, not only from the initial soreness, but also because your body is working so hard to repair itself from the breakdown of muscle tissue, that you may become sick. This can be a HUGE set back, especially if you are making drastic changes quickly – which I DO NOT recommend because then it really makes it hard to make it a lifestyle transformation. Once you build your base strength, you can begin to take on more challenging activities.

Are you doing the right exercises for your goals and muscle type?

Many of us don’t have the time to spend hours in the gym (oh how I miss college days) with busy work schedules and responsibilities outside of the daily grind, or just trying to spend some time relaxing.

We all do know that some sort of structured exercise is needed for the results we want (have more energy, feel stronger, live healthier lives, create a more toned overall look). To achieve this, there are three things I base my exercise routine around: cardio, weight lifting and active rest days. By rotating these three key types of exercise helps me not only to maximize my time, but gives me the results I desire – a lean toned body.

I’m not going to dive deep into the science stuff, but if you are interested in understanding more about your muscle type I strongly encourage you to check out this short article to learn more about Fast-twitch vs. slow-twitch muscle fiber types and training tips.

Depending on your personal goals and your muscle make-up you can build a solid, strong foundation. And even if you don’t understand or go into learning more about your muscle make-up, these types of exercise are generally great for all types of people to use and see great results for a healthy lifestyle.

OK, enough with that tangent, let’s talk exercise.

3 Types of Exercise: Cardio, Active Rest, Weight Lifting


For cardio, I typically do about 20 – 30 minutes of running/walking/interval training. By the way, this is one of my favorite Treadmill workouts.

When I don’t get on the treadmill, I head outside for a 2 mile run. Depending on your fitness level you may feel like walking is all you need at this time, or you may feel like running much further than my little two miles. This is a really good indicator of your muscle type by the way – those of you that can run much further may have more slow twitch muscles than those of you who do not. Did you read that in the article I shared?

Cardio is important to not only build stamina but also plays a big role in burning “immediate” fat.

I do a lot of interval training, increasing and decreasing your heart rate while exercising, when I do cardio as well. This can be achieved in many ways. Here is a simple example:

  • Walking on a treadmill at a 3.0 speed and every 2 minutes increasing the incline or speed for 1 minute and the decreasing back to the 3.0 speed for 2, etc. for a total of 20 – 30 minutes or if you are going on a walk or run outside, the hills act as intervals. If you are just on a flat surface you would have to increase and decrease your speed to consider it interval training

Weight Lifting for Lean Strong Muscles

There are so many different types of strength building workouts out there. I focus on using 2 particular ones that have similarities among them.

  • Circuit Training
  • High-Intensity Interval Training

I find that because I’m a fast twitch muscle type, these work great for me! I also like them because they are all typically workouts that I can fit into approximately that 30-minute time-frame.

No matter what you choose to do for building muscle, muscle is important in burning calories long after you complete a workout. Not just for having a toned body.

Circuit Training

A series of different exercises that you complete one after another for a certain amount of time or number of repetitions and rest in between each determined number of series.

High – Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) 

This combines short bursts of intense exercise with periods of rest or lower-intensity exercise. Many times this will combine a mix of aerobic (think things like short bursts of running, jump roping, jumping jacks) and resistance training (think things like lifting weights). This type of exercise is extremely beneficial for those who have a short period of time, like 30 minutes, to exercise and get the most benefits out of the time. It includes active rest that simply put allows one group of muscles to rest while you exercise others.

2 Lean Muscle 30 Minute Workouts

Tone your Arms in 7 Days workout by ivillage.com

This is one of my favorite arm circuits and I am so excited to share it with you!

If you have arms that just aren’t very shapely and want to tone them up, then this is the workout for you. Do this for a minimum of 2 times per week for the next 3 weeks. You should aim to complete 10 repetitions for each exercise and do them one right after another, only resting for 30 seconds in between 3 sets (number of times through the circuit).

Take a picture of your arms now because if you stick with this, you are going to want to have the before and after photo!!!

Full Body Toning Workout

Here is another more HIIT weights workout that I like to rotate into my routine that is a little more advanced. I do the entire workout straight through 3 times and rest for about 30 seconds in between each set.

  • 10 chest press to pullover
  • 10 alternating jumping lunges
  • 10 bicep curls
  • 10 shoulder press and squat
  • 10 upright rows
  • 20 crunches
  • 20 bicycle crunches

When deciding what weight to use for exercise, use a weight that you can complete each of the exercises with not compromising form even on the last repetition. I use 5lbs in each hand for the Tone Your Arms in 7 Days workout. If you do not have weights, you can use soup cans, bottles of water, or if you are unsure of what weight to use, go through the exercises without weight the first few times.

Active Rest

The last type of exercise I rotate into my weekly routine is active rest.

Active rest is a lighter or easier workout where you are still moving but not at the intensity you typically do on other days. This is important for your body to recover from your higher intensity days and for the muscles to repair.

On my active rest days, I typically do yoga or go for a walk or hike with my family. I like to have an active rest day after a weight day and before my running day. This gives my muscles time to heal for a good run. 

I’ve been doing this yoga flow for a really long time and always feel amazing after it. Yoga 42 min. full class Hatha Yoga Flow 3 

Making changes in your own exercise routine

Go back and look at your current routine and consider what exercises you like to do, want to change and want to add into your routine.

I encourage you to think about the results you desire and correlate exercises you have seen and felt the results you want from. Also consider your muscle type and what may be appropriate based on your muscles.

Doing things, you enjoy and seeing the results will keep you coming back for more.

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