'Toning up' doesn't mean 'bulking up'

FIT Staff
Jan 30, 2014

Toning is a term typically used to describe workout protocols to improve the shape and appearance of a body part or muscles.

It is usually requested with the accompanying statement “I don’t want to get all big and bulky.”

The request is most likely to be from a female.

This notion of getting big and bulky from training still holds on in the public’s general consciousness.

It might be reinforced by some cross fit females and athletes that have impressive muscle development.

These people have a training plan and nutritional programs that are strict, difficult and hard to achieve for most typical people.

Your average person starting out with weight training will not achieve this, especially with the “toning” protocol of light weights and high repetitions.

That is muscle endurance training, making the muscle more resistant to fatigue. The desired results of toning are accomplished by diet and strength training.

Diet is the key component to any physique training goal. Lower body fat will cause more definition.

This is most easily illustrated in the classic rock star body type.

They do not work out, go on tour, and engage in unhealthy activities yet have chiseled bodies due to low body fat.

With reduced body fat, muscle appearance will be enhanced by exercises that increase strength.

Increasing strength will make the muscle appear more firm and dense. Your strength increase will also lead to improved performance in daily activities, increased bone density and increased metabolism. 

Exercises that engage the whole body work the best.

They can be followed up with isolation exercises if desired. An example would be:

Push up- 3 sets of 10 reps

Chin up- 4 sets of 5-10 reps

Squats- 3 sets of 8-10 reps

Stiff leg dead lifts- 4 sets of 6-8 reps

Shoulder Press- 3 sets of 8-10 reps

Bicep Curls- 3 sets of 15 reps

Triceps Push downs- 3 sets of 8-10

Planks- 4 sets of 20 second holds

Sticking with a comprehensive plan allows for your goals to be met with added benefits.