Monday, January 24, 2011

Get Toned

Women often say something like this when talking about their fitness goals:

"I don't want to get big, I just want to get toned."

I want to discuss the goal to "get toned" and how you can go about it.

First and foremost, we need to clarify something:  muscle tone is actually a medical term.  It refers to the constant state of tension of the muscles in a healthy/normal individual.  You already have normal muscle tone unless you have some type of medical condition (such as a nueromuscular disease).  A muscle does not get more "toned" through training--it gets bigger, stronger, or (normally) a combination of the two.

Having said all this, I understand what trainees mean when they talk about "toning" as their goal:  they are referring to looking leaner and "firmer" without being overly muscular.

So how do you do this?  First and foremost, I'd recommend the same basic weight training exercises that men do.  Let me explain a few more things before you panic with visions of the she-hulk.

Generally speaking, women just don't get that big from weight training.  One reason has to do with muscle fibers.  Women tend to have a higher ration of slow-twitch (endurance) fibers, which have less potential for getting bigger.  Secondly (more importantly), women just don't have the hormonal make-up to get as big as their male counterparts.  Men, for example, have 15x the amount of testosterone women have. 

Let me show you a picture.  Here's a shot from the Truth About Abs E-book--a woman doing barbell squats: 
See any huge muscles or veins?  Nope--she's a natural (steroid-free) female trainee who is training hard enough to see real results.

Next I would recommend some form of cardiovascular training.  There's quite a debate on the use of steady-state (treadmills, etc) cardio versus interval training.  The program I'm going to recommend tends to prescribe interval training.

Last (but definitely not least), you have to get your diet in order.  The "toned" look comes from having relatively low body fat levels, which requires a calorie deficit.  You'll need to have a balance of lean protein, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats.  There's simply no "magic bullet" or diet pill you can take to change the basic calorie-in vs calorie-out equation.

Let's summarize:

The "toned" look comes from low body fat and well-developed muscles.  It can be achieved through the correct combination of diet and training.

I would recommend Mike Geary's Truth About Abs if you are looking for a practical guide to achieving this look.  This has been my #1-selling product so far on this blog.  You can read my review of this product here:

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