When I consult with women, along with being healthy and fit overall, the very most common desire is “to get toned.” Several calls each month start with, “What should I do if my goal is to get toned?”
First of all, everything I recommend to my clients is what I, myself am doing. Our top priority must be to improve our overall health. When you focus solely on physique-related goals, like, “I just want to tone my arms,” your fitness pursuits will be short-lived with minimal results. But if we put our overall health at the top of our mindset and lifestyle, implement a clean and nutrient-dense way of eating into our lives, AND implement a comprehensive fitness regimen that involves improving strength and athleticism, we will reach our goals and enjoy the process of getting there.
So, let’s go back to the “how to get toned” question…Well, you can’t tone bone.
After years and years of working with women and helping them reach their fitness and physique goals, I have a pretty good feel for what women mean by “toned.” We mean, “shapely, lean, firm, and fit.” So, in order for this shape to happen, a few things have to be in place: proper nutrition, strength/resistance exercise to build lean muscle, and shedding any excess fat layers to “see” your tone/muscle. Muscle = Tone, and Tone = Strength Training. You must build some muscle to achieve muscle tone. Your body needs adequate nutrition in order to not only build the muscle endurance and strength but also to shed fat layers. When you give your body what it needs, you can continually “unveil” the muscles that you are working so hard to make!
Strength training has so many different forms. Your resistance/challenge can come from body weights, free weights, bands, barbells, cable weight machines, etc. Even OCR-style buckets of rocks, tires, and sand bags! Variety is best! You have to keep it exciting. At the top of the priority list should be our core muscles’ strength and endurance so that we can delve into any type of strength training that we find interesting–from yoga to power lifting.
The question that typically follows “How do I get toned?” is this: “Will lifting weights make me bulky or ‘man-ish’!?!” NO! Plain and simple. No, it will not. You are a woman. And there is nothing we can do in the weight room that genetically changes you! Your female body is not capable of growing muscle mass to a size that is not natural looking without unnatural actions. Women have different hormones from men, and many other factors come into play here as well.
Strength training has many benefits for men and women alike. When you train with strength and resistance, you improve your overall health and physique.
Benefits of Strength Training:
Prevent heart disease and diabetes
Increase your bone density to prevent osteoporosis
Speed up your metabolism to turn your body into a fat burning machine
Improve your balance and prevent injury
Increase your energy levels, improve your mood, and feel empowered
Improve overall body proportion and structure
And yes, GET TONED!!!!!