Just a quick post today on how to tone your muscles. Please understand that muscle toning is actually a myth. Toning muscles is really about gaining shape and definition, not necessarily about bulking up.
You have three options to optimize your muscle tone:
- Burn off the fat covering your existing muscles,
- Increase the size of your existing muscles, or
- A combination of 1 and 2.
In my humble opinion, option three will be your best bet as it will improve your overall health and strength and make you look fantastic.
Let’s get started.
The Real Secret
So the real secret of toning muscles is to burn fat and build more muscle. The building muscle part is easy. Just start lifting weights (I’ll get into some details in a minute).
But if you ignore some type of cardio and your eating habits, lifting weights will not give you the results you are desiring.
Let’s be honest. We all want to look good with our shirts off, right guys? or in a bathing suit, right girls?
We can lift weights all day long, but if those muscles are covered with a layer of fat, then we still won’t look much better with fewer clothes on. That is the truth.
Also, please remember that spot fat reduction is not possible. You will lose fat all over your body in proportions that are out of our control.
That being said, specific muscles can be targeted for growth using specific exercises, but if you are going for an overall healthy and toned body you need to focus on compound exercises ans avoid any machines at the gym that target certain muscles.
I posted an article on compound exercises here.
Burning Fat – Exercise
There are only two ways to lose weight. The first is to consume fewer calories. Since you are trying to build more muscle, this is not an option. The second is to exercise more. therefore, the process of burning fat is two-fold. First is exercise; second is eating habits.
Exercise is critical if you want to burn fat. Lifting weights will begin the process of burning fat, but there must also be some type of cardio added to your lifestyle. you can run, cycle, take the dog for a fast walk or run, swim, or any other type of cardio that you enjoy. Cardio burns more calories, and if you are consuming calories properly, your body will use your stored fat for energy.
Let me also mention here that if you cannot stomach the aforementioned types of cardio for whatever reason (desire, dislike, or injury), then try some HIIT workouts. HIIT is short for high intensity interval training. Here are a couple of videos to explain the concept of HIIT (remember, I’m not an expert, I just want to help!)
Burning Fat – Eating Habits
The second component of fat burning is calorie intake. What we eat is critically important to fat loss. I have written many articles about the Keto Lifestyle and how effective it is in losing weight, and more particularly, losing fat.
In a nutshell, when we consume more calories through healthy fats (and fewer calories through carbohydrates and protein) we become fat burners and our bodies will use our fat stores for energy. That is the simple version. Check out the other articles at ketoandexercise.com for more details.
I will also mention here that if you are trying to build muscle, you will need to consume more protein. Not a lot more, but probably more than you are consuming now. I try for 0,5 grams of protein per day per pound of body weight. Having protein available will allow your muscles to heal and repair, growing bigger in the process.
Speaking of healing and recovering, you must not neglect sleep. When at rest, the body has the opportunity to repair muscles and balance hormones. Please endeavour to get between seven and eight hours of sleep each night to aid in the muscle building process.
At this point you should realize that if you eat properly and exercise regularly, you will be able to meet your goal of showing off your muscles.
I will list here a few exercises that you can try, along with some links to show the techniques and benefits.
Dumbbell Squat – will target quads, hamstrings, glutes, and all your lower back muscles
Deadlifts – will target glutes, hamstrings, upper neck, middle neck, inner back, and lower back
Calf Raises – will target (no surprise) calf muscles
Leg Curls – these work calves as well as hamstrings
Weighted Lunges – will target glutes, hamstrings, quads, calf muscles, and lower back muscles
Dumbbell Bench Press – will target pecs, deltoids, triceps, biceps, and back muscles (even quads a little)
Overhead Press – will target upper chest, traps, shoulders, biceps, and triceps
Bent Over Row – will target upper back, outer shoulders, forearms, biceps, spinal erectors, hamstrings, and glutes
Tricep Pushdowns – will target (no surprise) triceps
Lateral Raises – will target shoulders, top part of arms and back
Pull-Ups – will target shoulders, triceps, biceps, and core muscles
Just a little note that if you squeeze the living daylights out of whatever bar you are holding whenever you are performing any exercise, you will be activating even more muscles. Try it. What have you got to lose!
Just a word of caution. We are all different. Before you start any exercise program or change your eating habits, take a personal assessment of yourself and then set some realistic goals. This may even involve a visit to your doctor for some advice.
So there you have it. A definitive guide to toning your muscles: eat properly, exercise; lift weights; feel better.
Thanks for listening. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below.
See you in the next post.
Have a great day!