Do you bulk up easily? Why we respond differently to strength training programs | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

Consistently incorporating resistance training in your weekly workout routine can help you achieve a stronger and leaner body.  Individuals can respond differently to exercise. Some exercisers can see slow progress in building muscles no matter how hard and consistent they exercise. Others can develop quickly to improve on some challenging exercises like a push-up in a shorter amount of time. It is because there are major factors that can affect the results of your strength training program. 


Men have significantly higher levels of testosterone (a hormone that is responsible for increased muscle mass) than women. This explains why females will always have a harder and longer time building muscles when lifting weights. Studies show that a consistent exerciser can only gain one to two pounds of muscle per month despite the serious weight training routine. Lifting weights regularly can’t make women bulk up easily unless the overall program (exercise and nutrition) is specific for powerlifting or bodybuilding. Still, the rate of progress also depends on one’s genetic makeup.


Without a regular strength training routine, the weaker you become as you get older. After age 30, you can start losing three to five percent of muscle mass for every decade of your life.  Age-related muscle loss or sarcopenia can be prevented and managed by regular resistance training.  As you age, strength training becomes more important for maintaining and improving muscular strength and endurance that can make you perform daily functional movements like household chores and recreational activities safely and effectively. Keep in mind that every pound of muscle approximately burns six calories per day. Having a sedentary lifestyle and dieting without exercise will result in long-term weight gain due to loss of muscle mass. 

Regardless of age, you can still start or resume a weight training program and achieve amazing results. It’s never too late to do squats and push-ups. If you want to get the most out of your fitness routine while preventing injuries, then get the help of a fitness professional that can respond well to your current fitness level, goals, and needs.

Fitness goals 

If your goal is to lose body fat while gaining more muscle mass, you should combine cardio workouts with intense strength training on separate days to have enough time for your muscles to repair, recover, and build. Lift heavier weights that you can only correctly perform in full range for a maximum of 12 repetitions or less, eat the right quality and amount  (with enough protein), and get seven to eight hours of sleep. 

If you want to lose weight (by losing fat) while maintaining your muscle mass, balance your workouts by engaging in regular aerobic exercises on most days of the week or at least 150 minutes per week. Every two to three times, you can go for and light to moderate resistance training exercises. (I’ve discussed in one of my articles simple ways of doing resistance training at home).

Aside from the calorie burn that you can achieve from actual cardio and strength training, you will also achieve extra calorie burn after a workout session. Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC)  starts one hour after the workout and lasts for up to 72 hours.

High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workouts combining cardio and strength with recovery periods effectively burn calories during and after the session, even performed in just a shorter period as compared.

Body type and genetic makeup

Your genetic makeup plays a huge role in your body type and when it comes to your muscle-building response to a strength training program. If you have more fast-twitch than slow-twitch (for long endurance activities like marathon running) muscle fibers in your body, then you are more efficient in doing weight lifting and sprints. However, both fast-twitch and slow-twitch fibers can improve with constant training.

Two years ago, I took a personalized health and epigenetic course with my husband, Armand. The program approach incorporates anthropometry (measurements and proportions of the human body) to identify one’s health and body type and match the needs with nutrition and exercise type and timing. Since then, I’ve been practicing the approach with my eating and exercise and achieved significant improvements in health, energy level, body composition, and overall lifestyle. Most of my existing clients started the program precisely a year ago and have achieved balance in exercise and nutrition.

The program considers the body types or somatotypes (ectomorph, mesomorph, and endomorph -popularized by William Sheldon in the 1940s). Among the three body types, mesomorphs (has naturally more testosterone in the body) and endomorphs can respond more effectively to a well-designed weight training program. My body type is a combination of mesomorph and ectomorph. My muscles can still respond well to weight training, but not as efficiently as someone with a meso-endo body type. An ectomorph trying to gain more muscle mass should work extra hard in strength training and nutrition to achieve significant strength improvements.



Email the author at or follow her on Instagram @mitchfelipemendoza


Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.