When someone says they want “toned muscles,” their goal is to achieve lean arms and legs with shape and definition. What they don’t want is the bulk of a bodybuilder’s muscles. This is a common fitness goal among many women and men, but unfortunately, most people go about it all wrong. Let’s clear up the myth of surrounding the question of “how to get toned?” and explain how to truly achieve a firm, muscular body without the excess bulk.
The Myths of a Toned Body Debunked
The Truth Behind Toned Muscles
Myth 1: Toning your muscles is necessary to get rid of the “jiggle.”
There’s actually no such thing as “toning.” This is merely a gimmicky fitness term that took root a few decades ago and continues to circulate in gyms and online forums to this day. People don’t harden or soften their muscles with their lifestyle choices – they build, maintain, and lose muscle or they gain, maintain, and lose fat (which is soft and squishy).
Muscles either grow or shrink. So when people say “tone,” what they’re trying to say is “increased muscle density and decreased body fat without bulk.”
Myth 2: Getting toned arms and toned legs requires high repetitions with very little resistance.
Just because you don’t want to get bulky doesn’t mean you should avoid lifting relatively heavy weights. Your muscles must exert effort to change and adapt. Merely going through the motions with five-pound weights won’t do the trick. Even after 30 reps, the muscle simply isn’t stressed enough to grow. Increase the resistance and build more muscle.
Myth 3: Resistance training is all you need to get toned legs and arms.
Resistance training is not enough to produce the muscles you want, especially if you opt for high reps and low resistance. For your body to appear firmer and muscular, you must also lose subcutaneous body fat, which is the fat tissue located just below the skin. Until you do this, the fat acts like a bulky winter sweater, concealing the muscle definition underneath. You can lose the subcutaneous fat by eating fewer calories than you burn.
How to Build Muscle for a “Toned” Look
Train with the Proper Resistance, Reps, and Rest Periods
If you want to bulk up, select weights that push you to your absolute limit between eight and 10 repetitions. This is the technique bodybuilders use. For that “toned” look, go a little lighter and aim for 12 to 15 reps. Train hard, but stop a few repetitions short of total muscle fatigue. If you can get to 18, 20, or even 30 reps before your muscles burn, the resistance isn’t high enough.
After each set, take a short break to let your muscles recover briefly. However, to keep your heart rate up, rest for no longer than 30 seconds.
Know How to Respond to Each Set
Expect your second set to be harder than the first. Don’t worry if you can’t perform as many reps the further you get in your workout. This is understandable because short rest periods prevent your muscles from recovering fully.
After several weeks of strength training, your endurance level will increase, allowing you to lift more weight in less time. However, if you’re unable to complete at least eight to 12 reps per set, decrease the poundage slightly.
Consider Circuit Training
This technique makes your workouts shorter and more effective while keeping your heart rate up. Circuit training is when you go from one type of exercise to the next, targeting different muscle groups back-to-back. This way, they each have time to recover before you return for the next set.
For the best results, refrain from resting between sets. Only stop for a 30-second breather after you complete the full circuit. This requires focus and discipline, but you’ll burn more fat and build more muscle to create the lean look you’re after.
Combine Movements to Burn More Calories in Less Time
If you can manage it, perform two exercises at once to target multiple muscle groups simultaneously. For example, you might combine bicep curls and lunges, shoulder presses and squats, or lateral raises and leg extensions. Create circuits that rotate between three different upper- and lower-body workouts to finish your routine in half the time.
Complete Each Rep More Slowly
Sure, you want to save time by taking fewer breaks and combining upper- and lower-body movements, but consider that explosive training is what bulks up a muscle. To help it grow long and lean, take two to four seconds to lift and lower your weights. This really lets you “feel” the motion and works the muscle deeply at every possible contraction position.
Watch What You Eat
You will never achieve a shapely physique if you’re carrying around excess body fat. In other words, you can’t out-train an unhealthy diet. So what’s the best food to eat if you want rock-hard arms, legs, and abs? While it’s slightly different for everyone, the general guideline is to achieve a 40/30/30 diet. This refers to 40 percent complex carbs and vegetables, 30 percent lean protein, and 30 percent healthy fats.
It’s all about striking a balance. If you reduce your carbohydrate intake in one meal, bump up the fats slightly to compensate with a long-lasting energy source that will fuel your day. And if you have a high-carb meal, skip the fats.
You can also bolster your nutritional intake with supplements designed for pre- and post-workout meals. These help you get more out of your exercise routines and see better results from your efforts.
Watch this real-deal workout for building your chest, shoulder, and triceps muscles from Evertrain:
The great thing about uncovering these muscle toning myths is you can finally achieve the body you’ve always wanted in far less time. Your workouts can include circuits of eight to 12 reps each instead of laborious 40-rep bicep curls and leg lifts. You should begin noticing results faster, even with shorter workouts, allowing you to see for yourself that “toning” is, after all, just a myth.
Did uncovering the truth behind the myth of “toned” muscles help you better focus on your fitness goals? Let us know what you think in the comments section below!