The first question I always ask when someone tells me they want to get toned is – “What do you mean by toned?” Most people know what they want to look like but can’t but it into anatomical terms, or they are a little bit out on what it involves. So, here’s a basic guide.
Muscles can get bigger or smaller. The amount of fat covering them can get more or less. So, if you want to get “toned” you need to either:
A, Reduce the amount of fat covering your existing physique and musculature.
B, Increase the size of your muscles.
C, Reduce the amount of fat covering your existing physique and musculature AND increase the size of your muscles.
Most people tend to want to do C, but not to extremes. In fact a common worry is “I don’t want to get too big”. However, unless you’ve set it as a goal and are eating like a horse (which will be counterproductive to your body fat reduction goal) and are lifting heavy weights at least 4-6 times a week, most people will struggle to get this big.
So, to reduce your body fat and increase your muscle size.
1, Lift heavy weights 3-4 times a week minimum.
2, Eat a diet that’s rich in protein and healthy fats, low in sugar with a good serving of complex carbs after training. Try to stay within 300-500 calories of your TDEE (Total daily energy expenditure).
3, Do plenty of “cardio”. This does not mean run yourself into the ground with ever increasing mileage! This means a variety of moderate to very intense exercise that gets you out of breath. Such as running, biking, circuits, metcons, Crossfit, sprints, HIIT, rowing, spinning, skipping, kettlebells and bodyweight exercises.
4, Make exercise a part of your life. Treat it as a long-term lifestyle choice, not a 12 week sprint to get a six pack. Get your hour of power every day.
That’s pretty much it. How fast you get “toned” will depend on factors such as:
– Your somatotype (someone who was a skinny kid but has put on weight through lifestyle will find it easier than someone who was an overweight child and has always struggled with their weight – the body will always try to revert to type…hence some people have to try harder than others, remember Oprah’s struggles?)
– Your lifestyle. What you do outside of training will have a huge effect on your body. Someone who stands up for a job (not that says stands up, not walks or digs a hole in the ground – simply stands up!) will burn around 300 extra calories a day. That’s 6000 calories per month. It takes an expenditure of 3000 calories to lose 1lb of fat. So the difference could be 12lb a year between someone who stands vs someone who sits for a living.
– Your training frequency. How often you train.
– Your training intensity. How hard you train.
– Your level of discipline. How often you skip training or have a cheat meal / drink alcohol.
So, what are you waiting for…go get toned!