Toning and Losing Body Fat
Weight-training advice for women revolves around what I call the "three dirty words:” toning, shaping , and sculpting". "Toning" as it is used in books and magazines catering to women, and as women themselves use it, means "making your muscles look better without making them bigger." In anatomy and physiology there is a concept referred to as residual muscle contraction or tonus, but this refers to the continuous and partial contraction of a muscle to help stabilize posture and balance. “Tonus” has nothing to do with the outward appearance of your body, or whether you have tight glutes and washboard abs. You can be out of shape and struggle to climb a flight of stairs and still have muscle tonus.
Fitness writers and trainers started to use the word “toned” to describe being muscular, without actually saying the word “muscular.” This allowed them to avoid getting into long, involved and uncomfortable discussions with their clients about why they should stop obsessing about becoming too “bulky. The idea behind being “toned” is that there are specific types of workouts -- usually involving lots of repetitions with light weights and hours of cardio -- that will help you achieve this.
But that's not a realistic or healthy way to look at your muscles. If the weights are unchallenging, your muscles won't grow. If your muscles don't grow, they won't look any better than they do now, even if you lose the layer of fat that sits on top of them.
The Seven Keys to Getting a “Toned Body” and Losing Fat
1. The first key to body toning is to understand that there is no “body toning.” Looking lean and trim with muscle shape and definition requires two things: muscle mass and low body fat.
2. Secondly, to get shape and definition, you need to add more muscle. Don’t fear muscles.
3.To add more muscle, you need to lift weights. To add muscle you need to train with progressively more weight or resistance
4. When you lift weights, you need to lift heavier and use lower rep ranges (10-12 reps per set.). Stop thinking high reps will make you look “toned.”
5. In order to bring out muscle definition, you must also strip off body fat. Adding muscle will help with this because it burns calories at rest, and performing moderate or high-intensity cardio will help in losing fat. Moderate your cardio - 60 minutes of cardio a day 5 days a week is overkill.
6. Remember that nutrition is a key part of being “toned” and losing fat.
7. Finally, it is key to understand the FACT that women typically will not become bulky and muscular from lifting weights, unless they are using anabolic steroids or have unique genetics. Rule of thumb: when you pinch a fold of skin on any part of your body and it is more than one inch in thickness, you need to lose fat. In all likelihood, the bulkiness you fear is from fat, not from muscle.