When it comes to fitness goals, this is one that’s always at the top of the list.
Tons of people want to look toned. They want to tone their arms, legs, butt, everything. This is understandable considering every time you see a celebrity on a fitness magazine there is some article with a toning routine along with some new diet.
Unfortunately, even though there are good intentions behind the idea of getting toned, these magazines and certain supplement companies have turned this term into a word that makes some real trainers cringe.
Let’s first define the term toned. What the hell does it even mean?
Webster’s dictionary defines toned as “having the muscles firm, and the skin taut.”
Ok, now that we have a clearly defined goal, how do we get there?
Step 1: Build Muscle Definition
The first part of the definition talks about muscles being firm. Having a base of muscle is essential when trying to get a toned look. The muscles give your arms, legs, butt, etc. that shape that many are after.
If muscle is the focus, the first thing you need to do is forget every single “toning workout” you have ever been exposed to. Light weights and tons of reps aren’t going to get you what you want.
Contrary to popular belief, heavy weights will get you a much more toned look than light weights. The common fear is that the heavy weights will cause you to look bulky.
I’m happy to tell you that if you are reading an article on how to tone up, you almost definitely will never have the problem of getting bulky. There are teenage boys with insanely high levels of testosterone that support muscle building that can’t get bulky no matter how hard they try. If you are the average person, you have no reason to fear getting to that point.
So when finding workouts to gain the prerequisite muscle for toning, you should try to find one that includes heavy lifting in the 5-15 rep range for multiple exercises. You should also be using weight that is about 2 reps shy of failure. So if you are going for an exercise that requires 15 reps, you should be using a weight that you can barely get 17 if you were to push it to true failure. This method is hard and requires you doing more weight most weeks.
If you are short on equipment or do not have access to a gym you can also use the same principles for banded or bodyweight workouts. The reps may have to be a little higher or lower depending on what you have at your disposal. Just follow the 2 reps shy of failure rule for any exercise and more times than not it will work for building muscle.
Fair warning, these workouts will not be easy, but they will get you on the way to the body you want.
Some people will achieve the look they want solely from focusing on this first part. When you train properly and eat nutritious foods that fuel your workouts that may be all you need to look amazing.
However, maybe you want to take it a step further and get leaner. This is where you focus on part 2.
Step 2: Burn Fat
Once you have put on a decent amount of muscle after a few months this is what you should do next.
This second part we want to focus on is the “taut” skin. This basically means that the skin is not sagging and at the same time it isn’t plump with fat. To achieve this, you would have to have a low enough body fat to get your skin to be taut.
This could require you to be in a calorie deficit which is pretty much eating just enough calories where you lose a pound or 2 a week. If you want to read more about this be sure to check out the article here .
Once you are in this calorie deficit, you will stick to it for weeks or months until you lose enough weight to get to the level of definition you want. More times than not, it will take a little longer than you think.
So this where I do cardio right?
Cardio is a great add on to a workout program. But if your program is a cake, the cardio should be the sprinkles.
It is great to have a couple 10-20 minute sessions once or twice a week to start. Then if you get to a point where your calories are so low you don’t want to take any more away, you can add in some more cardio to continue losing weight without reducing calories. Most people will never get to the point of needing this much cardio. It is usually reserved for many months into a diet, and even then probably won’t be necessary.
The bulk of your training should be resistance training. The type of training mentioned above where you lift heavy weights that hit every part of the body so that you build muscle and keep it throughout the entire process. If you lift light weights for high reps and stick to cardio once you focus on losing fat, you will lose muscle that you worked your butt off to gain.
Can I just target the fat on my arms and butt?
I really wish the answer was yes. It would save so much time and energy, but unfortunately this isn’t the case.
You cannot spot reduce fat.
I repeat, you cannot spot reduce fat.
There are tons of products and programs that promise that you can. However, these are honestly garbage. They are just preying on people who don’t understand how the human body works.
Don’t fall for the hype. You can get the body you want without special supplements or equipment. It just won’t come as fast as most people think or as fast as these companies promise.
If you put in the work and embrace the process, you will have that toned strong body you can be proud of.
Just follow the two simple steps.
Start by building muscle for a few months
Then focus on losing fat
I know there was a lot of information in this article. It might leave some of you a little confused or unsure of where to start.
That’s why I have a free month long program for you to get the process started. No guesswork required on your end. You just do the work and see the results.
If you would be interested in a free month long toning program just reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org