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What does “Toned” really mean?

Whenever I am working with a new female client, in particular, I often hear them say “I just want to get toned”. Where the definition of toned is often the same between client and trainer, the path to getting there can to be filled with misconceptions and misleading for a new client. As a seasoned trainer, I am learning to spend much more time explaining the benefits and purpose of each type of training program. Hopefully this post will give you a better understanding of how to get the results you REALLY want!

 The Misconceptions of Training for Muscle Definition

Muscle Definition is a necessity to being “Toned”. In fact, it is the definition. Yet, for some reason, I receive the most kick-back from clients when it comes time to pump iron. The fear is that they are lifting too much weight and will start to look bulky. Most clients looking to tone, do lots of cardio and endurance to get to the body they are looking for, and become frustrated when they lose more weight, but still don’t feel anymore toned. This downward spiral is because it is muscle we are missing.

What does “Toned” look like?

For most of us, toned shows muscle definition around the front and back of arms, and a flat stomach. There is a defined jaw line,  no folds around the bra strap area, and no love handles over our jeans. You will look and feel goooooood!! Toned means tightening up the body you are in now, looking like you are fit and strong… but not too strong… (Am I right?)

This disconnect between the want of being toned, and the work it takes to get there is where the problem lies. Some feel that the weights they are lifting make them feel like they are training to be a body builder. They are absolutely right! You want to build your body to look a certain way (toned), so you must build it. But not all body builders look alike. You can train for massive muscles, or just to lean out.

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Tips For Getting Toned

1. Healthy Eating Habits

First off, if you think lifting weights is going to make you look bulky, reinvestigate your food. Most people are currently eating to support weight gain. That is what will make you bulky, not the lifting. Hands down, your eating habits are going to have a direct effect on your progress. Plus, your nutrition is probably the #1 dictator of how much fat you store in your visceral (stomach) area. Storing fat in your stomach doesn’t feel or look good, and you are building layers of fat around your vital organs. Myfitnesspal.com is a FREE and easy website and phone app that can help you getting started balancing your food.

2. Build Muscle

Building muscle means that you will need to be lifting a challenging weight. By challenging, I mean something you can do 8-10 reps of, but probably not more. This type of exercise should optimally happen 3 times a week, for at least 6 weeks.  If you want to see muscle definition, you firt have to have muscle to show the defintion of. This will not make you “bulky” (promise), but during this phase, you probably won’t see a dramatic weight loss either. Be patient! It is all a part of the plan.

3. Build Endurance

Once you have muscles to show, you will need to get rid of the layers of fat on top so you can see them. Now is the time to burn calories and shed the top ;ayers of fat. This is a great time to do low weight, high rep resistance training. This phase takes the muscles that you have spent the last 6 weeks building, and uses it to burn more fat, faster. The more muscle you have, the more fat you will burn over muscle tissue. Repeat this sequence of muscle gain and endurance phase until the desired result is achieved (and then after that to maintain it).

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