Ok, seriously, can we all drop the word "tone" when we reference fitness goals. TONE DOES NOT EXIST. IT IS NOT REAL. This "tone"concept that most women set as a goal (which isn't really a goal because a goal needs to be measurable- rant in a different blog post) is a combination of gaining muscle mass and reducing excess body fat. It's that simple and that complicated.
This mainstream, bullshit view about "muscle tone" does not reflect any concept of reality or how to achieve it. You ALL have seen the magazine covers with a women lifting a 3lb pink dumbbell with the headline "tone your muscles now". Sorry, but lifting a dumbbell that weighs less than your purse for 3 sets of 100 will not achieve the look you're going for- unless of course, that look is flabby and leaves you with little to no results.
Ok, science time: Muscles are fixed at all ends by tendons and bone. Ok, that's simple. Muscles do not magically assume different shapes- obvious right, this isn't Hogwarts. Sets of 2-3 reps do NOT product the shape of a triangle while 10-12 reps product the shape of a sphere. Muscles aren't Picasao, they aren't artistic.
Honestly, if I had a dollar for every woman who told me they wanted to "tone", I could fly out on my personal jet and train you all in person.
Back to science- muscles do change shape by GROWING in response to exercise. That's part 1 of the equation in achieving what most people want when they reference muscle tone: LARGER MUSCLES. Ladies, YES- when you talk about getting "toned" you really are saying two things- I want to lose fat and I want BIGGER MUSCLES.
Don't lose your sports bras- women simply do not possess the hormonal profile needed to mass up under heavy weight (that EWWW i don't want to be bulky and look like a man mentality). WOMEN DO NOT POSSESS ENOUGH TESTOSTERONE. So, point blank, if you are a woman and you are lifting heavy and gaining dirty size or dirty mass then you are either eating shit, taking steroids, or both. Dirty size and dirty mass are different than a clean bulk.
We like easy. Easy is good. But easy doesn't get you results.
The second half of "toning": body fat is all that really determines how well your muscles can be seen. And the VISUAL of a lean, sculpted, muscular body is what most women want when they say that stupid word. The truth is- diet is the dominant factor controlling your body fat. Abs are made in the kitchen- not on an Abmat. Lifting heavy won't make you gain size, but everything anything and everything in sight surely will.
1. Stop calling it muscle tone. You want bigger muscles and less body fat covering them.
2. Eat to meet your goals
3. Pick up a barbell. NOW LIFT