Raise a hand if you’ve ever heard someone say, “I just want to tone up”. Go ahead and keep that hand up if you’ve ever heard the additional words, “but I don’t want to get bulky”! It’s not uncommon to hear, as many people, especially women, tend to want a lean and toned body as opposed to a “bulky” one.
What Exactly Is Toning Up?
It’s actually a very vague term. Simply put, it means a lean and defined look; a strong, yet still feminine figure; less body fat but not enough muscle to “look like a man”. So really, when women say they want to “tone up”, what they mean is that they want all of the above. It’s not hard to get there, it’s just knowing how.
For starters, you must have a lower body fat percentage to show any signs of definition. But definition means that you’ll need some muscle for that, so yes, you will have to lift. And no, you will not get bulky. I promise! Unless you’re taking anabolic steroids, you won’t look like a man. Genetically, it is impossible for women.
The Key To Being “Toned”
Losing fat and building muscle are the two key ingredients for being “toned” (read: having a good physique).
Your diet needs to be in check if you want to lose fat, meaning you shouldn’t be eating more food than you’re expending on a daily or weekly basis. The calories you consume should ideally come mostly from real food sources first and foremost, and should consist of a good balance of protein, fats, and carbohydrates. Try tracking what you eat for a week and see what happens to your weight. If you see a slight decrease in weight (about half to one pound) you’re headed in the right direction. Any more than that and you might be pushing it too much. If you don’t notice a change or gained some weight, you may want to reevaluate what you are doing and see what modifications you can make.
Building muscle is a whole different game. Think of your body as a car. If you put gas in it regularly, it will get you to where you need to be. If you neglect putting any fuel in the tank, you’ll eventually run out and the car will stop. The same idea applies to your body. Putting in good quality foods will help you to build muscle. Shooting for around 150-250 extra calories than you need a day is a great place to start. Yes, you will gain weight, but if you properly lift throughout the week, you’ll be on track to building the physique that you want.
In the end, toning up just equates to building a solid foundation of muscle while being lean enough to see it. Don’t worry about gaining too much muscle and getting “bulky” – it just won’t happen to a female. Now go get to the gym and go lift something heavy!