To the tune of ‘I want to break free’ by Queen – “I want to be toned. I want to be toned. I want to tone this body I’m so sick of all the wobbly bits. Oh I want to be toned. Dear trainer, you know I want to be toned!”
Hands up everyone who has ever said, “I want to tone up” Ok,now keep those hands up if you actually understand what that really means…
So what really is being ‘toned’ and what does it take to achieve this?
When people say they want to have that toned look, they often mean they want a lean body with muscle definition.
For a lean body you need to lose fat, so you need to be in a calorie deficit.
For definition you need to gain muscle, so you need a calorie surplus.
These statements are the complete opposites; surely it’s not possible to do both these things at the same time? Well, you can. But you’d better be prepared for some serious dedication to the cause as what you are asking for is probably one of the hardest challenges you could set yourself.
We’ve already established you need to be in a calorie deficit to lose weight, so we now need to find a source for the extra calories required to build muscle. This is where fat stores come in; these calories that your body decided (against your will, obviously!) saved for a rainy day makes the perfect fuel to build muscle.
Resistance training creates a stimulus for growth, signals are sent to your brain to let it know your muscles are not only still needed but need to be bigger and stronger too. This means your body needs to find fuel from somewhere for the growth of these muscles but it’s not getting it from the calories you consume so it starts to look elsewhere, i.e. your fat stores! You need to make sure you’re strict on your average calorie consumption, hitting you macros and also consistent with your training plan.
Most importantly, hit those protein targets. A reduction in your carbohydrates and fats will help with the overall calorie reduction, but make sure your protein doesn’t take the hit; this is what helps get those extra gains! Getting in sessions of resistance training for hypertrophy (muscle growth) along with those of higher intensity will give you a good mix of training that keeps your body on its toes (no pun intended!). Muscles get repaired and strengthened and those wobbly bits finally make themselves useful as an excellent source of fuel. Now, I mentioned consistency, this part is super important. You need to stick to the reduced calories and training routine to make sure your body keeps making withdrawals from those fat stores. Only once you have reached your desired level of ‘toned’ can you then start to look at how to eat and train for maintenance, or even more muscle growth. But let’s just focus on getting our body to eat up those muffin tops first! Mmmm…muffins…