‘Toning’ is a term you may have heard before. If you were asked to define it explicitly, it’s likely you’d struggle. How do you tone your muscles? What does it look like? How do you know what toning is? Can you tone muscle that isn’t there? Should you build muscle first, and then tone it? What would that look like?

These questions should hopefully seem quite silly. That’s because toning is a term which plagues the modern health industry, but it isn’t real. It’s ethereal, ephemeral, and used by marketers to sell products which aren’t altogether efficient. We’d here to debunk the toning myth. You needn’t search websites like Aretheyonsteroids.com to find out how athletes achieved the body you want exclusively. Odds are that being inspired by your own progress alone is more than enough.

This article should help you achieve the correct perspective, and with that, the correct results.

Calories In / Calories Out

You cannot truly tone muscle, or fat into muscles. They are two separate entities. This means that in order to reveal the muscle is there (or as you build it,) you need to reduce the fat. This means adhering to the standard calories in / calories out model. If you’re able to do this, you’ll find that your weight will shed more in three weeks than three months spent ‘toning.’ Simply find your caloric maintenance, as in the calories needed for you to sustain yourself generally (found through an online calculator,) and then reduce that number by 500, or as much as you’re comfortable with. You can do this as you continue to train as well, as this amount of reduction in calories will not make you deficient in energy or nutrients.

As you lose weight this way, while eating high protein to facilitate weight loss and keep muscle, you’ll find that your muscle naturally reveals itself. The ‘toned’ figure you are looking for is nothing more than strength and a lack of fat. Still, never be afraid of fat. In the right quantities, it can work wonders for you.


There are many ‘fat burning’ supplements out there, those that promise a toned physique on the very label. This is nothing but marketing, and while these supplements can work to a limited degree, they are often less effective than you’d like to believe. If you’re looking for a great physique, the only supplements you need are fish oil, vitamin D and a standard multivitamin. If you’d like, you may also take a fiber supplement. That’s it.

The only reason many supplements are so popular are because it seems like they’ll facilitate progress even more quickly. However, the things you eat and the amount or intensity you train at will have more impact on this figure than anything else. If you’re unable to see this, you’ll be condemned to a long period of simply making no progress in the least. But you’re smarter than that.

Focus on your diet and weight lifting/cardio first, and then worry about the more advanced supplement as you begin to hit your standard limits. This will all depend on your goals. If you’re not interested in building heavy muscle, then you may never need to touch a complex supplement in your lifetime.

Free Weights vs. Gym Machines

In order to ‘tone up,’ many people or even personal trainers will recommend you take a circuit on the gym machines. These machines do not truly help you. Often they isolate select muscle groups, and work them in isolation from the rest of their connectors. For example, try the leg curl machine, intended to grow your quads. There is no other movement you can possibly achieve outside of this machine which will replicate you working your quads in isolation. The leg is evolved to work as one complex unit, including the connecting joints, the hamstrings, the groin, the calves, the glutes among many others.

If you’re hoping to make some real progress in muscle development (and yes, you’ll need a small amount of muscle and low bodyfat percentage to stay ‘toned’) – you’ll need to work out using free weights. Dumbbells, barbells and other free equipment will not only train your entire body in a proportional way, but it will train balance, coordination and full flexibility. Over and above training on machines, this method will actually achieve results. We’d recommend beginner programs such as Stronglifts to educate yourself and get started building your strength base. For some sexy fitness lifestyle clothes, try one of our favorites Girls Who Lift.

With these tips, you’ll find that your toned figure is not only a myth, but a much better figure awaits.

Feature photo: Courtesy of Girls Who Lift

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