It’s the primary fitness goal of 99.9% of females new to total body conditioning, but that’s not to say it isn’t desired by males either, or that it’s not a fantastic goal. What’s funny about getting toned is that it means something different to everyone, but in this article we’ll explore how almost everyone can achieve what toned means to them!
What Is Toned
The word tone, in English, means to strengthen or give firmness to. By definition, toning is more of an intrinsic property, meaning it isn’t necessarily observable. What most people mean when they say they want to get toned, however, is they want that strength or firmness to be extrinsically noticeable. So while anyone becoming stronger is technically toning, most would say if that new tone isn’t visible to the naked eye then you haven’t toned at all.
How To Tone
Strengthening your muscles is going to make them more firm, so by definition if we strengthen our muscles they will get firmer and that will produce smooth, curvy, attractive muscular shape. But I don’t want to get bulky! We know, we know. Tone comes first. No one magically wakes up bulky. Building muscle is a much longer process than losing weight, so you will have plenty of time to identify when you have reached the point of building enough muscle.
So how do you strengthen your muscles? Well your body is built to adapt to what you expose it to on a regular basis. If you run regularly, you’ll get better at running. If you lift heavy things regularly, your body will get better at lifting heavy things. If you stay sedentary regularly, your body will get really good at not moving! See how that works? You can’t expect your body to get good at something if you don’t put in the effort to get better at it. Running a marathon starts with training to run 1 mile first. Competing in powerlifting starts by slowly adapting the body to overcome more and more resistance. Becoming a good public speaker takes hours upon hours of public speaking practice. The point is, if you’re going to accomplish something, you’ve got to put in the work.
Ready to put in the work? Great! Let’s go! Start by either taking a trip to your local health club, or by looking up some workouts you can do from home that are meant to expose the body to resistance that it will have to overcome. Pushups, squats, lifting heavy things around the house…whatever it takes, make it a habit to do this until you’re tired and struggle to continue. By reaching a point of failure, your body will realize you intend to push beyond its current abilities and will begin the process of adaptation. Doing this regularly will produce noticeable performance enhancements in just a matter of weeks. Within a few months, those results you’ve been feeling inside will likely start to become noticeable from the outside. The longer you keep this up, the more you will improve and the better you will look and feel!
How To LOOK Toned
This may seem obvious, but if you know you’ve got some muscle that you want to show off, you’re going to have to get rid of the soft, lumpy adipose tissue covering it up. Our bodies prefer storing our fat around our organs to protect and insulate them, but when we continue consuming more calories than we burn our bodies find other places to store that energy as fat. Those fat deposits start as grams, then ounces, and eventually turn into pounds. These get stored as close to the center of the body as possible at first to keep the weight centered (if it went straight to our calves and forearms it’d be quite hard to use our limbs) but if it continues adding up it eventually spills over into our face, hands, feet, and everything in between.
The more stored fat we accumulate, the more we cover up our muscles. To prevent this, we need to consume either fewer calories than we burn, or the same amount. If you have fat you need to lose, you’re going to have to consume fewer calories than your body burns on a daily basis so that your body will tap into those fat stores to make up the deficit. One pound of fat is equivalent to 3,500 calories, so if you stayed in a 500 calorie deficit every day you’d burn 1lb of body fat per week.
Staying in a caloric deficit can be pretty challenging. Our bodies don’t like losing their energy stores. Those are there to protect us from starvation. Losing them is going to take determination, consistency and a strict diet plan. If you know you have a serious challenge ahead of you and you’re not sure if you can handle it, talk to your doctor, nutritionist, personal trainer or someone who can guide and support you through that challenge. It doesn’t have to be hard, and a health or fitness professional can show you how to make the journey smoother and more successful.
Getting toned and looking toned may or may not be the same thing to you, but this article should have explained the 2 key basics of how to produce muscle tone: build/maintain muscle, and keep body fat from covering it up. Having visible muscle definition is a physical indication of good health, athleticism, youth, and even fertility. On the other hand, when our bodies are bogged down with excessive adipose tissue, it’s not only a sign of poor physical capability, but of disease. If you need help building muscle tone, or revealing it, please talk to a medical or fitness professional and find one or two friends or family members who can support or even join you in the journey. There is strength in numbers!