There are many recreational lifters who aren’t necessarily looking to get jacked like a competitive bodybuilder. If you ask them what their main goal is, they would often give you the answer that they simply want to get ‘toned’. This is an abstract word for many and it needs some clearing up.
‘Toned’ comes from the Latin word ‘tonus’ or the similarly sounding Greek word ‘tonos’, which literally means tension. This draws the logical conclusion that building muscle, increasing muscle definition and toning are similar goals.
Generally speaking, a concept such as ‘muscle toning’ doesn’t exist. What many people have in mind when they are talking about toning their muscles is burning enough fat so that the separation between their muscles becomes evident making their muscles by hard and heavy training. Considering that muscle size can fluctuate depending on the stress they are exposed to over longer periods of time, the muscles themselves cannot ‘tone up’, that’s not how they work.
What ‘ getting toned up’ really means is building a body with an increased overall musculature in combination with a low body fat percentage. In order to achieve that, you will need to start lifting weights exposing your muscle fibers to mechanical stress that will stimulate them to grow and become stronger so that they can endure the ever increasing load.
This will also enable you to spend a higher amount of calories by increasing the metabolic rate. Taking this into consideration, it is worth mentioning that the exercises that stimulate multiple muscle groups at the same time or stimulate muscle groups that are larger in size, like the back or leg muscles, will burn more calories than exercises targeting isolated muscles.
However, if you don’t pay attention to your dietary habits, no matter how hard or consistently you train, you will not get the body you want. Let that sink in for a while. You need to fulfill two criteria in order to ‘tone up’ successfully:
1. Build muscle.
2. Lose fat.
And there’s no way around it. You either do it, or you don’t. If you are serious about this, you’d better start working on it as soon as possible. There’s no need to follow some professional bodybuilder’s training or diet plan, but you will have to make a customized training and nutrition program as per your needs to get that toned look you are after.
In order to clear up the confusion regarding toning, we must first bust the two most common myths regarding the often misunderstood concept of toning:
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