What does it actually mean to "tone up"? Simply put, toning represents an increase in muscle tissue and decrease in body fat to the point that you can clearly see the definition of the muscle. Basically, the idea of "firming up" your muscles is a myth. Fat doesn’t turn to muscle, and muscle doesn’t turn into fat.
So, how do you "tone up?" Resistance training is key, because stress needs to be put onto your muscles in order for them to change and grow. The idea of lifting light because you don't want to get bulky is a myth. If you opt for little to no resistance, you probably won't put your muscles through the stress they need. Therefore, they have no reason to adapt and grow.
I recommend training with resistance in sets of 8-12 repetitions. Strength training is key, and you can use it to your advantage. Aim to fatigue every set, but keep your rest periods very short (around 30 seconds) in order to keep your heart rate elevated. As the workout progresses, you will become more fatigued, so don’t worry if you can’t complete as many repetitions as you did during your first set. Eventually your body will adapt to the stress; you will have more muscular endurance, and you will become stronger.
The more muscle you have, the more calories you will burn at rest — another reason why you should be focused on strength training. For every pound of muscle you have, your body utilizes six calories to sustain itself. Every pound of fat only utilizes two calories.
Don't worry, ladies. There is no way you will "look like a man" if you do strength training. We do not produce enough testosterone to build muscle like they do. So, lift heavy, aim to build muscles, and include strength training on a daily basis. Choose HIIT cardio and circuit training over prolonged cardio, as prolonged cardio only burns muscle, thus sabotaging the results.
Here's a brief guide to incorporating circuit training and HIIT cardio into your workouts:
Circuit training: Circuit training is a method of physical conditioning in which one moves from one exercise to another, usually in a series of different stations or pieces of equipment.
Example: Three sets of 8-10 reps each.
- Chest press
- Bent over barbell rows
- Dumbbell Shoulder press
- Barbell curls
- Triceps extensions
- Back squats
- Stability ball crunch
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT): HIIT is characterized by high intensity short intervals with periods of low intensity intervals of active recovery.
- Jump rope for 20 seconds, rest for 10 seconds. Repeat 8 times.
- Sprint for 20 seconds, walk for 10 seconds. Repeat 8 times.
These two styles of training can help you build muscle and burn fat in combination with a healthy diet. Now that we have discussed one of the biggest myths in fitness, don't be afraid to add more resistance to your workouts — because the only thing that will happen is that you look and feel better.