Muscle toning is something many of us head into the gym to achieve. We all want better definition on those abs, pecs, lats and biceps, but how should you go about doing so? Read on to discover 10 great tips to help you manage those targets.
1. Set Realistic Muscle Toning Goals
Model-like washboard abs and a defined six-pack is going to take a lot of commitment and hard work in terms of both regular training and your diet. You just won’t get there with two or three sessions a week and an average diet. Whereas a healthy body fat level with moderate muscle definition is a lot easier to achieve with regular exercise and some simple dietary changes. You need to decide on what you can realistically commit to as part of a sustainable routine and stick to it.
2. Muscle Toning Isn’t Just About Weights
Including high intensity interval training (HIIT) is a great addition to help muscle toning, and especially good if you’re trying to fat burn too. A 30 second sprint, followed by two minutes steady pace on any cardio kit is a simple start. Play around with your high-to-low intensity ratios to keep things varied and interesting, just make sure that ‘high’ is actually as high as you can manage in order to be most effective.
3. Keep Things Gradual
It’s important you begin your programme at lower intensities and using lighter weights, master the technique and gradually build up to taking on tougher challenges. Don’t do too much, too soon, or you’ll end up injuring yourself and being out of action, rather than toning those muscles
4. Don’t Focus Only on Toning Specific Areas
Bigger multi-joint ‘compound’ exercises recruit and engage more muscles, burn more calories, have a greater hormonal stimulus and give more effective strengthening and toning results than if you just focus on working smaller areas .
5. Challenge Yourself
Once you’re comfortable with weight training exercise techniques, build up to a weight that challenges you. If you only ever lift weights that you find really easy, your toning results will reflect that effort. As you move through your set, it should get more and more difficult, with the last couple of reps a real challenge to complete.
6. Do you Need to Focus on Toning, or Burning fat?
If your aim is for more visible muscle toning or definition then you may need to focus on reducing your body fat as part of your training. Your body fat is stored between your muscle and skin, so the greater amount of this, the more it will hide your muscle tone or definition. If you need to burn a bit of fat, as well as muscle toning, then make sure you’re burning more calories than you’re consuming.
7. Get Enough Protein in Your Diet to help Muscle Toning
Protein’s essential for repairing, regenerating and building muscle. If you’re exercising regularly, your protein requirements increase and if you include regular weights training, your requirements increase even further. If you’re regularly active and trying to tone up, aim for 1.2-1.7g of protein per Kg of bodyweight a day, if you’re trying to build muscle mass 1.8-2.4g per Kg will help you further.
8. Stick at it
Muscle toning doesn’t come about overnight or after a couple of sessions in the gym. Different people will see results at different times, but don’t expect any real differences in the first few weeks. Keep going, keep pushing and keep gradually progressing.
9. I’ll Bulk up if I Lift Weights Won’t I?
No, you’re almost certain not to. Bulking up like a body builder is hard work and we mean really hard work. Lifting very heavy weights regularly as part of demanding, structured plan most days of the week is a very difficult thing to master and it’s even more difficult for women as they don’t have the same level of hormones as men to build muscle mass. However, lifting weights as part of a regular training routine will create stronger, toned muscles, boost your metabolism, as well as burning calories and fat.
10. Enjoy Yourself!
Enjoying yourself is a key part of staying motivated on your muscle toning journey. The way to do this is to find the ways you like to train to get your results. Heavy free weights, resistance machines, body weight exercises, interval training, personal training, exercise classes and many more methods can all play a part in helping your muscle toning efforts, so mix it up and have fun!