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Verve magazine article Nov13: What does “toning up” actually mean?

I often hear: “I don’t want to build muscle I just want to tone up”.

Dictionary: tone up

(adverb) to make or become more vigorous, healthy, etc. exercise tones up the muscles

Interesting that the dictionary says to “become more vigorous”.  Clients often tell me: “I don’t want to bulk-up, I just want to tone-up.” I even remember myself saying this years ago – but do we really know what we mean?

So what is toning?

For woman toning up is what naturally happens to our bodies when we incorporate a muscle building or resistance session into our fitness regime.  Toning can only happen if we build the muscle first as this new muscles will start using the excess fat as fuel (because muscles burn more calories) and the layer of fat will slowly disappear from our bodies.  This will then bring the defined muscle to the surface giving us a toned physique.

Some woman have more muscle tone than others and every one will build toned muscle to what their bodies are naturally programmed for given the right exercise. So next time you think “I want to tone up for summer”, I hope you’ll remember that you are actually saying “I want less body fat and more lean muscle underneath” – and that you don’t get that by swinging light weights around for hours. We have to effectively condition our muscles through resistance training.

For men exactly the same applies – you’ll just build bigger muscles because of your testosterone levels which allows you to stimulate more muscle growth than woman.

So, toning up can only happen if we build up muscle below our “layer of fat”.  The toning-up bit happens as the end result of muscle building up and fat burning down.  Toned arms and abs appear when the excess layer of fat has started to disappear and the muscle definition comes to surface.

All-in-all, Men bulk-up when muscle training and Woman tone-up – so start working those muscles vigorously (remember the definition) 🙂

See you next time – Melissa

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