‘Toning’ Is a Myth!

Myth: Women should either not do resistance training, or go for higher reps of a lighter weight so they tone instead of building bulky muscles.

Fact: Both men and women should vary light/heavy weight exercises and rep ranges to maximize muscle strength, mass and endurance. Because the average woman lacks the level of testosterone that men have, she is unlikely to achieve an overly muscular body in a typical resistance-training program.

Often we hear women say, “I don’t want to get muscular, I just want to get toned.” But what does “toned” mean? Medically, healthy muscle is already tight … or toned … in an involuntary state of partial contraction. We suspect that the desire to be “toned” refers to wanting a firm body with muscular, or shapely, definition.

Infomercials and entertainment programs that showcase celebrity trainers often promote “high-rep, low-weight toning” workouts. Here’s the problem with that: You can’t change the “tone” of your muscles. You can get greater definition when there is an increase in muscle tissue and a decrease in body fat. But when you perform unnecessarily high reps with little resistance, it produces no stress on the muscles. They don’t grow in size or strength. Size is important because muscle is metabolically active, and the more muscle you have, the more efficient your body is at using fat as a fuel source. Having more muscle mass means you burn more calories in everything you do, even sleeping.

But there’s an even bigger problem associated with the “high-rep, low-weight toning” approach: It totally overlooks the balanced training elements found in any legitimate personal training program: resistance training + cardiovascular exercise + supportive nutrition.

Here’s a short course on the balanced approach: We recommend that our clients devote the majority of their workouts with us to working hard with weights (Yes, the weights will feel heavy and it will be hard!), with the additional goal of exercising aerobically three to six times per week on their own. Eat smaller, balanced meals consisting of lean protein, starchy carbohydrates, and fibrous carbohydrates five to six times a day. Avoid all processed foods.

Forget the “toning” myth. Set your goals based on facts. Now is the time to get serious about planning a workout regimen that safely and effectively reshapes your body and your lifestyle. Want to know more? Call us or shoot us an e-mail.

Rich and Ryan Gilman
Rich and Ryan Gilman operate Gilman Brothers Personal Training at Faith Community Center. The Gilmans earned their personal training certifications through the National Exercise and Sports Trainers Association in 2004 and Bachelor of Science degrees in Recreational Sports Management from Indiana University in 2005.