On an almost daily basis, I hear some iteration of the word "toning" in reference to how someone (usually a woman) wants her muscles to appear. And believe me - I used to be of that club of those wanting "toned" muscles. That club reads the fitness magazines that promise the latest diet or exercise that will do it all for you in just a few days or weeks. That club may also adhere to a low-fat/low-calorie diet on a regular basis as well. That club might spend hours on the treadmill every day...
Toning the muscles usually refers to achieving muscle definition and shape. And to get that toned look, we are usually told to do lots of high repetitions of single muscle-group exercises (i.e. bicep curls, tricep extensions) or hop on that piece of cardio equipment for hours on end every day.
However, how often do those things actually get to the desired results - a "toned" appearance? Unfortunately, not too often.
But - there is still hope for that toned appearance, and it comes from lifting weight, relatively heavy weight (relative to your age, exercise history, etc), using multi-muscle exercises and fueling your body with enough fuel to grow and strengthen muscles throughout the entire body. When we focus on strength and power over endless amounts of high reps at a low weight and miles of cardio, we start to see real results. We start to see that muscle come through. We achieve what we wanted in the first place.
"I'll get bulky!" most people say to me when I mention the idea of lifting (relatively) heavier weight. Trust me - you must be really trying with concerted efforts to become "bulky." And besides, what's wrong with being a little "bulky" if that bulk comes from strong muscles? Isn't that what we want in the first place? Muscle definition and shape and strength? Not willow thin arms and legs?
Either way, take a lessen from my mistakes. Don't be afraid of the weight room. That's where changes happen, and we become the best and most confident versions of ourselves. It's where we own where we are and work towards what we want to achieve.
Feeling lost and unsure of where to start? Turn to a personal trainer in your area, even if it's just for a session or two. They'll show you the ropes, and guide away from that dreadful myth of toning! And if you're in Lincoln, come find me :)