How to NOT Get Bulky

Written By


Expert Reviewed By

Dr. Lauryn Lax, OTD, MS

Dr. Lauryn, OTD, MS is a doctor of occupational therapy, clinical nutritionists and functional medicine expert with 25 years of clinical and personal experience in healing from complex chronic health issues and helping others do the same.

4F6668Ba325657D36Ae8F9B313230014 1 | How To Not Get Bulky

For Workout Wednesday, I had the opportunity to check out Efficient Exercise here in Austin—a small local gym with BIG results.


Efficient Exercise is known for its “efficient” 30-minute workouts where a wide array of clients—from the 50-year-old attorney (and desk jockey), the 20-something tri-athlete, the 40-year old soccer mom, or “I wana get a hot body” fitness enthusiast—show up to get the job done, then get back to living their life.

The gym’s methodology is built on a foundation of customization. No two BODY’s are alike, so therefore everyone’s level of intensity, style of workout and threshold will be different too.

Their personal-training style workouts incorporate a variety of training modalities, such as—weight lifting, powerlifting, CrossFit, HIIT, anaerobic, agility, mobility, functional, bodyweight, and the “super-slow” method on their signature ARX technology (a machine that provides a resistance stimulus based upon your body’s capabilities and strengths).

One similarity though? Some sort of strength training.


Strength training does a body good.

Nothing crazy necessary.  But if you’re not incorporating strength into your fitness routine, you don’t know what you’re missing girl.

“BUT weight training will make me bulky!” you say.

#saidmostwomen (again).

We talked about it yesterday—all the things that you do that “make you bulky”—but for today’s post, I sat down with Efficient Exercise co-founder, Keith Norris, to learn his secrets as a trainer for “not getting bulky.”

Thrive: It’s the cry of many ladies: “How do I NOT get bulky if I lift weights?!” What do you say?

Keith: The first thing I tell them is if you wake up one day and find yourself totally blown up, out of accord, I tell them I’ll give them back double their money. It’s not going to happen. Simply put, if you’re a woman, you just don’t have the hormonal support, especially in regard to testosterone, to get bulky. Many women correlate strength training with the ‘pictures’ of a sport associated with weights—like Bodybuilding or CrossFit women; Women who are athletes, training for that sport in mind; and eating accordingly (or doing something else) to get that muscle mass to be that way. They are the 1% of the population, born with the right genetics, to be doing that sport. There’s no way the average woman has the ability  to look that way just lifting as a part  of her routine.

Thrive: How many days per week should a woman lift?

Keith: At least 2 days per week of a 30-minute targeted session—with some intensity in the training for your own body—is enough to see results. But if a person really enjoys training, they can do it most days with 1-2 rest days in there to allow the body to recover. Listen to your body. The main thing I tell people is to build a foundation of fitness, and then outside of the gym, do things you love—not that are about achieving a certain body, but actually enjoying the movement, be it swimming, running, biking, CrossFit, bootcamp, spin. Do things you love and move.  I call this the “wave and weave” method.  Waving intensities and, to keep things fresh, weaving modalities.

Thrive: How can a woman get the body they want?

Keith: The main thing NOT to do is to look at another woman and simply just try to copy her. You  see a yoga girl for instance and think: “She does yoga, so if I do yoga, I’ll look like her.” Or, “She does spin, so I’ll do spin and look like her.” The two don’t tie together like that. Your training needs to be customized to you—and that’s where having a trainer can help on the gym front. And of course nutrition is 80% of results anyways. Nothing crazy. Simple, simple. Cut out the sugar and refined grains. Eat real foods. Drink water. Oh and stress. If you are stressing—even stressing out about what to eat or the perfect workout—is not doing your body any good. It’s throwing off that cortisol balance and we all know what that does (weight gain, plateaus, poor digestion, etc.).

Thrive: What’s the best post-workout meal options?

Keith: Keep it simple. As long as 80% of your diet cuts out those added sugars and refined grains…and the bulk of it is based on real foods, then that really takes care of it. For the average person who is working out and moving most days per week, but not training for a sport, eat real food. After a workout, I like to tell folks to go check out Picnik down the street and get something easily digestable, like their Butter Bones Broth (bone broth + a little bit of grass-fed butter) and get back to their work or their day.

The Bottom Line Tips to NOT Get Bulky?

  • Hit the Iron. Lift weights at least 2-3 days per week (and make it a challenging session)
  • Short & Sweet. No need to spend unnecessary amounts of time in the gym (30-60 minutes does a body good)
  • Do Things You Love. Outside the gym, incorporate movement that you genuinely enjoy in your daily life (don’t force yourself to do anything just because you “should” or because it’s the “answer” to a hot body)
  • Cut the Sugar & Refined Grains. Base your diet on proteins, healthy fats (coconut oil, avocados, nuts, seeds, ghee, butter, coconut, animal fats) and real-food carbs (veggies, fruits and some real starches—like potatoes, sweet potatoes, squashes).
  • Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff (and it’s all small stuff). Stop stressing out so much (especially about your body). Actively seek ways to reduce stress.

If you hate the idea of “getting bulky” or you think you’re the exception, I invite you to head on over to Efficient Exercise in Austin and put Keith (or his team phenomenal trainers) to the test.

(You should also try one of Keith’s sample workouts below!)

Keith’s Efficient Workouts

Both of these fall under my High Intensity Interval Resistance Training (HIIRT) methodology.  Each workout is to be completed in 30 minutes, so the rest interval between sets / exercises is short.  Each set should be taken to failure, or very near that point.  Load is adjusted accordingly.  Repetition count is a guideline only.  For instance, if a set calls for 15 reps, and you can only eek out 12 at a given load (or due to general fatigue), don’t sweat it.  As in diet, the 80/20 rule applies here as well.:


Keith-Workout-2And, whether you are in Austin or not, I invite you to join my online Bikini Mindset Program.

If you’re looking for “the secret” to getting the body you want with a mindset that is TWICE as stunning, the Bikini Mindset Program was made especially for you.

It is my signature  30-day program aimed at empowering you to get where you want to be…

Over the course of 30-days you will get:

  • A Daily Workout
  • Nutrition Tips
  • Daily Mission E-mails full of inspiration 
  • Thrive Projects for kicking butt and taking names in your own life
  • Inclusion in Thrive’s Exclusive Bikini Mindset Program (BMP) Facebook Group
  • A body you feel confident in—and a sustainable mindset to go with it

Bikini programs are a DIME A DOZEN out there…the thing is, most of them only sell you:

  • Diet plans that keep you wanting more and craving more
  • Cardio bunny routines you feel enslaved to do every day in your basement or home living room, in front of your TV
  • Counting calories, fat grams, weighing and measuring your food
  • Sizing yourself up and down in the mirror
  • Weighing yourself every week (or every day) for progress
  • Yearning for MORE (the ‘ultimate body’ is never attained, so they can keep selling you more)
  • Wondering WHY things aren’t working for YOU!

The things missing? 

  • A strengthened mindset
  • And, sustainability (how to keep up with a healthy lifestyle and still feel good in your own skin–without going crazy!)

Get the thriving, healthy body you want (with a MINDSET that is twice as stunning).

Take advantage of the special discount to join Thrive’s Bikini Mindset Program (BMP). 

Use the code letsdothis to save $5 off the $30 program today.

Your offer expires in 3 days.

I guarantee you you will be singing a different tune (and feeling amazing in your own skin) at the end of 30 days.

Try it.


Get a taste of what Thrive is all about with the Free 7-Day Thrive in Life Kickstart Guide when you join Thrive’s inner circle.

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