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"I Just Want To Be Toned..."


“I just want to be toned”.

We’ve all heard it before. At the gym, from friends, on TV, and you might have even said it yourself at some point.

Within countless gyms people hear it every day. The word “toned” is misused and misunderstood.  Why?

The media can lead the general public to be under the impression that you can get “toned” by performing a certain rep scheme, a certain routine, or certain exercises. How many times have you heard “full body toning routine” or “toning exercises for women” (as if women need to exercise differently than men)?

The problem with these gym workouts, programs, articles, and the people selling them is that not only are they claiming that certain exercises will tone muscles, but that you can spot reduce fat in specific areas as well. This spot reduction myth is another one that needs to go. The idea that by exercising a specific body part, the fat in that area will be used and reduced simply isn’t true. It’s impossible – regardless of what that article in your magazine or advert for the latest fad fitness product told you.

What Does Being Toned Mean?

When people refer to being toned, all they mean is that they want a low enough body fat percentage to see the shape and definition of the muscles. It’s that simple. And let's be clear, muscles DO NOT go from soft to hard, or hard to soft. They either shrink or grow. They CANNOT tone, sculpt, or any other adjective you may have heard. There is no other way about it. When it comes to changing our body composition, we can really only do two things. We can either gain or lose fat, and gain or lose muscle. So, if you want that “toned” appearance, you’re going to have to shed the layer of fat that is covering up your muscles.

You can certainly attain this toned look through training and diet. The biggest myth comes from health and weight loss companies who claim that certain types of exercises will get you toned, or that you can tone a specific area by training it directly. For example, most people are misled in to thinking that doing crunches will reduce their stomach fat and make their abs show. Crunches can sure grow your rectus abdominis (stomach) muscle, but it won’t decrease the layer of fat that’s covering it.

Something to be mindful of is that the definition of a toned appearance is completely subjective. What one person may find toned and attractive, another may find too muscular, or maybe not quite lean enough. So, if your goal is to “get toned” or some other variation of toning, please ensure you are as specific as possible.

Bulk The Hulk

What seems to come with this concept of toning muscles, is the idea that lifting any significant amount of weight will turn you in to the hulk overnight. If you lift anything heavy, you’ll become “bulky”. If it were that easy, every guy in the gym would be huge, which also isn’t true. Whether your goal is to reduce fat, gain muscle, or both, you’ll need to stress the muscles with relatively heavy weight. Your muscles need this stress for them to grow and show (or even to simply maintain the muscle mass you have). Simply going through the motions with little to no weight won’t produce the results you want.

To recap; you cannot tone, or sculpt a muscle, and you cannot spot reduce fat to tone a certain area of your body. What you can do, however, is stress your body with high enough intensity exercise for it to adapt to, while controlling the calories being consumed, which will result in getting that toned appearance. 

Need a little help? Speak to our team about personal training sessions to ensure your fitness goals are realistic, achievable and practical. Or book yourself onto a Fitness Orientation to kickstart that new fitness quest. 


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