There’s actually no such thing as “getting toned.”
It’s interesting because one of the most common questions I get from women (and men) revolve around how to get toned – to have Michelle Obama’s arms, or have the stomach and legs of the fitness model they saw on an instagram picture.
But here’s the thing.
It’s a total myth.
So if it’s a myth, how do you actually get toned then? Follow these two steps…
The Toning Myth
How To Actually Get Toned: 2 Steps
When women typically see a fitness model like this, they tend to think:
“Okay, that’s kinda the toned look I want: the arms, stomach, etc. How do I get it?”
It’s actually impossible to tone a muscle, so there’s no actual process you can use to make a muscle longer, leaner, etc. You can really only do two things to your body:
You can increase muscle.
Or you can decrease fat (technically, the fat cells).
Guys tend to say the same thing though: they want that 300, gladiator, six pack look with a lean body that looks muscular and fit.
But when we say “toned” we don’t actually realize there isn’t a workout or plan that “gets you toned.” It flat out doesn’t exist.
What we really mean is this: we want more muscle and less body fat.
That’s ACTUALLY what toning is.
So a toned person is almost always a person that lifts weights, does bodyweight exercise, or some kind of calisthenics in addition to their healthy eaten plan.
The Toning Process 101
Here’s the thing that scares some people: you will almost always need to add weights or some kind of resistance training if you are looking to get that toned look.
Have you ever seen someone that runs a lot, who uses that as their main form of exercise?
They tend to look really thin. Shapeless. Sometimes emaciated depending on what they eat.
Toning gives you that muscular tone that you want – and weights are one of the best ways to do that.
Yes, even as a woman.
Yes, even if you’re a woman over 40, 50 or 60.
In fact, it’s especially important for women that are middle aged to lift weights because it improves bone density and also helps offset osteoporosis.
If you’re a woman, I highly recommend staying in the 6-15 rep range on your workouts.
And if you’re a man, stick in the 6-12 rep range during your weight workouts.
From there you need to gradually work on increasing the weights, the repetitions, or both.
So, quick recap.
Two super simple steps for toning:
1. Get more muscle (even if you’re a woman)
2. Lose more body fat
We talked about getting more muscle, and I’ve got hundreds of articles here on losing weight – like this series on losing your next 5-10 pounds.
“But I don’t want to look all muscle-y!”
Now as soon as I suggest that women need to start lifting weights, I hear “I don’t want to look all manly like those women on the fitness covers! That’s gross.”
And here’s the good news:
- You will not get huge, so relax. Not only do female bodybuilders eat horrendous amounts of calories and food (like male bodybuilders do), women don’t even possess the same amounts of hormones that allow men to naturally be more muscular. You won’t get massive.
- You won’t turn into a gorilla. Just a reminder: you will naturally start getting those lines you want, the Michelle Obama Arms, the nice stomach lines, the fit legs and butt… rather than turning into a hulking gorilla with weird posture. Remember that toning is as simple as muscle mass and body fat.
Following me here? There’s nothing to worry about.
All of us have muscle (and abs!) underneath the layer of body fat we have. All women have those arms and thighs they want – it’s just a matter of uncovering them, or sculpting them like a Michelangelo work of art. We start with the block of granite, and have to chisel away the model underneath.
Women over 40
It bears repeating since moms and middle/older aged women tend to be so afraid of weights that women over 40 should especially be doing weights or some kind of resistance – something harder than yoga and walking.
The more muscle mass you have, the higher your resting metabolic rate – which is great news for staying lean and healthy.
Also, more muscle mass and less body fat will help lower estrogen levels, which is a great thing and will help with things like PCOS.
Your Tiny Habit For Today
If it’s beach season and you’re looked to get toned up a bit, remember to keep it simple.
Focus on these two things:
1. Build more muscle (man or woman).
2. Lose some body fat percentage.
3. Focus on the repetition schemes I gave above.
What things have you tried to get “toned” that haven’t worked? Share below.
Image of fitness model: © Glenn Francis, www.PacificProDigital.com