In the words of one of my old university professors, if you want to tone your muscles more, then you have to stick a fork into your cerebellum. Toning doesn’t exist in the way you mean, you build muscle, and you lose fat, and you get more defined. More tone in the muscle will result in a disease we know as cerebral palsy, where you have little control over your muscle, and there are spontaneous bouts of extra tone in the muscle. None the less, I know what you mean when you me you want a more toned look about yourself, I just don’t like to hear it everyday, and I may attempt to actually stick a fork in your cerebellum. But I digress…
Women who want to look more ‘toned’ are usually, actually, probably going about it the wrong way. Let me guess, you don’t want to get too big, you don’t want to grow muscles, you just want to be toned. Hmm… I sense a little contradiction here. Firstly, you wont get too big. I have been trying for years to get too big, lift insane amounts of weights, and wait, what do I look like…toned! Secondly, you are not going to get toned doing what the majority of women do in the gym. High amounts of repetitions with ridiculously light weights. No, actually, you will barely get the blood flowing through your body. If you want toning exercises for women, then listen up, and try what I am about to tell you. I promise you, you will be toned.
Firstly, please lift more weight. I mean, just go and lift more weight. Put away the one kilogram dumbbells, and lift something that’s hard. If you can still move it comfortable and look into the mirror whilst adjusting your tank top, then you probably need to go a little heavier. You lift heavy weights, you stress your muscle more, you stress your muscle more, you get more adaptations, more adaptations means more muscle growth, more muscle growth, means more definition. You ain’t gonna get huge lifting 3 times a week heavily, unless you start to take some steroids, you will get bigger muscles, but you will love it.
Secondly, do compound exercises. This means doing exercises that involve more than one joint at a time. I’m thinking, pushups, bench press, squats, deadlifts, leg press…as opposed to bicep curls, tricep pushdowns, leg extension etc etc. Why? You can lift more weight like this, get a better stimulus on the body, get more ‘toned’ much faster, see better results, and stop wasting your time getting every single muscle.
Thirdly, do a full body workout three times a week. Don’t waste your time with splits, isolating exercises and going to the gym everyday. Three times a week of lifting heavy weights will get you toned. I know you don’t believe me, but head to the gym for at least 4 weeks, do what I tell you, move some heavy weights. Not only will you get the attention of half the guys in the room, but you will actually get those slim thighs you want, those shoulders and biceps that you can be proud to show off in your new dress. Lift more weight!!!
Fourthly, get your diet right. Do the simple things first, cut out the crap. Sodas (or fizzy drinks if you come from the land down under), chips, sweets, fried food…get rid of it 90% of the time. Try to only eat processed white carbohydrates after you workout, see is pasta healthy for more info on carbs, add more protein to your plate at each meal, and you will be achieving your toned look in no time. Remember, definition of the muscle does not change, your muscles get a bit bigger so they are actually visible, and you drop some body fat so you can actually see them too.It’s really not rocket science…but not easy to achieve without the right information.
So what do I actually recommend that you do in the gym? Like I said, a full body workout three times a week is perfect. I would start with something like this (variations are fine, I just want you to hit your whole body in a basic manner when you are starting)… 3 sets of everything, 8-10 reps, to start:
- Bench Press
- One Arm Row
- Lat Pull Down/ Chin ups (If you can then you are better than 99.7% of women!)
- Swiss Ball Hamstring Curls (More Reps)
- Prone Hold Complex
These exercises will hit all of your body, stress you quite a lot, get all your muscles working and strong, help you achieved the toned look, and you will be in and out of the gym in about one hour. Obviously I want you to lift heavy, the last rep should be tough, ideally 8-10 reps is too high, but it’s a good place to start to get some general conditioning, for about 4 weeks, before you lower it to around 5 reps, ensure you do 4-5 sets once you lower your rep range.
Now you know how to achieve the toned look, and I can put my fork away.