Exercise The Truth About ‘Toning Up’

The Truth About 'Toning Up'

I bet you can easily picture a ‘toned’ body. I also bet that you couldn’t tell me how to get ‘toned’. That’s not your fault, your confusion is intentional. Confusion allows companies to profit from products that do not work. Luckily for you, we’re here to explain the art of toning up in simple, actionable steps.

What do people think it means to ‘tone up’? 

Most people assume that a toned appearance is the result of weight loss.

It isn’t.

They desperately try to reduce the number on the scale, assuming they will prefer their body after. Sometimes, they lose weight. But what’s left is a softer version of what they started with. There’s no shape, no frame, just soft skin that hangs off their body.

So what does it mean to ‘tone up’? 

Toning up is the result of two processes…

1. Fat loss

2. Muscle gain

Fat loss occurs when you consume less energy than your body uses. Muscle gain occurs when you stimulate your muscles by lifting weights, whilst consuming a high protein diet. The muscle is key here. It forms the firm, perky, shapely and smooth appearance of a ‘toned’ body.

So, how do I lose fat and build muscle at the same time? 

It’s a little tricky because losing significant fat requires a calorie deficit, whilst building significant muscle requires a calorie surplus. But it’s still possible.

You should be eating in either:

1. a small deficit (200-300 kcals less than your body needs)

2. at maintenance (the same number of calories your body needs)

WHILST… lifting weights.

That will allow your body to lose a small amount of fat whilst building a small amount of muscle. Also known as… toning. Ta da!

'Toning Up'

How should I lift weights? 

There is a weird misconception that you should be lifting small weights for high reps to tone. This is an incredibly slow and inefficient way to build muscle, limiting the amount of toning that can occur. Instead, you should be lifting moderate to heavy weights for 6-20 reps per set, close to failure, using basic exercises.

(Failure is defined as not being able to perform another rep with good technique.)

..And consuming a high protein diet.

This is how models, actors and fitness influencers achieve their toned physiques. It’s not some magical supplement, fancy exercise, class, or diet. It’s lifting weights progressively, whilst only consuming the energy their body needs (or slightly less) and sufficient protein. That is the magic.

Happy toning,

Hannah, GymJam Uni

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