Tom, the personal trainer who founded Waite Training in Leeds has many tips to help you get started on working for your fitness goals.
Hitting the gym is one way to get into better shape and shed unwanted pounds and body fat. You may be doing what you think is right currently but not seeing the results you desire and aren't as in good shape as you'd like to be.
You may assume that you need to tone your muscles to have your dream body and love how you look. This article aims to shed some light on the fitness goal "toning" and how you might want to focus your attention on other things to achieve your desired lean look.
What is Toning?
You may have an idea of what you mean when you use the word toning. However, the reality is that "toning" doesn't truly mean what you believe it means. In fact, saying that you want to get and be toned may be distracting and keeping you away from reaching your fitness goals.
The truth is that "toning" doesn't exist and shouldn't be on your radar. Muscles don't get hard or soft; instead, they either shrink or grow in size. This also means that muscles themselves don't tone or firm up.
If I asked you to explain what exactly you mean by getting toned, you might use the words "lean", "sexy curves" or "firm skin. However, a great personal trainer will immediately think of two things: muscle gain and fat loss.
See, if you'd like to look toned, one of two or both things will have to happen for you to achieve that: add on lean muscle and lose body fat. We'll focus on these two fitness goals below.
Most clients that come to me will need to add some lean muscle mass even if their primary goal isn't building a better physique. More muscle means more strength, better chances of ageing gracefully and staying independent.
But if you'd like to sculpt a lean physique, you want to put on some mass, so when you lose excess body fat, they will show and make you look "toned" if you wish to use the term. Some women are nervous about doing so because they don't want to bulk up. In reality, building huge muscles is pretty challenging, especially for women. It requires years of commitment to a strict diet where you're in a calorie surplus and also that you hit the gym come rain or shine. Without going into more technical details here, it's super hard for women to become big.
The good news is that building just enough muscle so that you achieve a "toned" look is more manageable and very possible with the right approach. When you're in a muscle-building phase, you'll have to focus on eating the right amount of lean protein, consuming excess calories compared to how many your body uses and a structured resistance training routine.
You can stimulate small muscle growth by lifting weights a few times per week. The key to success is to work at an intensity that will prompt your body to adapt and build more muscle to cope better with the demand you put it through during your sessions. If you don't have much experience in progressive overload, you might want to consider hiring a personal trainer or online coach to help you with that.
Another piece of the puzzle that you can't forget about is fat loss. If you want to achieve a lean look where your muscles show, you must lose any excess body fat.
There is a straightforward way to do it, but it's not always easy. It's called a calorie deficit. The simple equation is to burn more energy or calories during your everyday activities than what you're taking in through what you eat.
You can achieve that by keeping your activity levels the same as they are now and decreasing your daily calorie intake. It will work to an extent, and then you might plateau. In an extreme case, if you set your daily food intake too low, you might find yourself less energetic, lethargic and lose your enthusiasm for training or the whole goal itself.
Another solution is to increase your activity levels, thus burning more calories while decreasing your food intake slightly. As long as you stay reasonable with the calorie deficit, you'll be able to lose weight while staying more active.
Now, while calories do count, your energy levels and recovery will become crucial when it comes to progress. You want to make sure you get the most out of your food. That means cutting back on empty calories and adding wholesome, nutrient-dense foods like vitamins, minerals, complex carbohydrates, lean protein, and healthy fats.
You might want to consider a good mix of strength workouts and cardio exercises in terms of training. Strength training is vital here, so you don't lose too much of your muscle mass. Adding in both long and steady and high-intensity cardio training will boost your daily calorie burn and help you lose body fat faster. The key here lies in the ratios. An expert fitness professional can set you a programme that's just right for your unique needs.
There is a reason you hear bodybuilders going through leaning and muscle building phases in their competition prep. While the extent they focus on each of these phases may not be sensible or realistic for you, understanding that achieving a "toned" body happens through building lean muscle and losing body fat will help you become more efficient in your training and with your diet. It will also help you focus on the most crucial elements: strength training and nutrition.
If you feel you'd like to discuss your physique goals with no strings attached, feel free to get in touch for a commitment-free chat.