Our personal trainers are asked on a daily basis how best to tone up in a healthy and sustainable way. That’s why we have created this informative guide offering our top tips on the best ways to tone up and some key exercises to get you there.
How do I Tone Up?
Put simply, toning up requires two basic steps: developing your muscles as well as losing body fat so you can see your newly strengthened muscles. First things first, it’s very important to differentiate between losing weight and toning up. Losing weight refers to simply losing body fat whereas toning up means you lose body fat whilst also gaining muscle at the same time. If you are toning up, the numbers on the scale may not dramatically alter depending upon how much body fat you have to lose. Toning up looks different for everyone, some people just want to lose their muffin top or a specific body area whereas other people view toning up as having a bulging 6-pack. These differing levels of being toned depend on how much time and effort you are willing to dedicate towards being lean as diet and exercise modifications also have to be considered.
Reduce Calories to Lower Body Fat
Toning up requires lowering your body fat percentage meaning you must restrict your calorie intake so you are in a calorie deficit (you burn more calories than you consume). When you are in a calorie deficit, your body starts to metabolize fat and shrink fat cells to make up the energy deficit. In order to find out your daily calorie target intake you can use an online calculator, this is based on your age, gender and daily expenditure. Most people tend to subtract between 500 and 1000 calories a day in order to create a calorific deficit. This means you’ll be eating between 3,500 and 7,000 calories fewer per week so you’ll lose 1 to 2 pounds of fat. Remember to be realistic with your calorie intake so that you are eating at least 1,400 calories a day or you risk slowing down your metabolism by not eating enough.
Eat to Fuel Your Muscles
If you are going to be living and training in a calorific deficit you need to be smart with your food by eating foods that are going to keep you fuller for longer. You should plan your diet around a source of healthy carbohydrates, lean protein and healthy fats along with a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. Lean protein is very important as it is a rich source of amino acids which your body needs to build muscle tissue as you gain weight. Opting for a mixture of wholegrains including fruit and veg at your meals along with nuts, beans, dairy and getting healthy fats from avocado, fish and olive oil instead of processed foods.
Best Exercises to Tone Up
In order to try and simultaneously build muscle and lose fat, it is important to incorporate both strength training and cardio into your training programme.
Train to Tone
Resistance training is one of the best ways to tone up. Strength training not only builds muscle which boosts your metabolism but it is also helps to keep tension in your muscle fibres so you look leaner. Try and incorporate a good balance of compound exercises (squats, deadlifts and chest press) and isolation exercises (lunges, bicep curls, shoulder press) into your strength training sessions in order to really target the main muscle groups (lower body, upper body and core). For more about workout splits and what is the best one for you, read our informative blog post explaining them in a little more detail. Similarly, train for strength rather than reps; this means pushing your muscles harder by working in the 6-8 rep range rather than exhaustion at 10-15 reps. For more information about strength training and its benefits, read our recent blog post.
Don’t forget about cardio training when trying to tone up. Cardio training helps to increase your calorie burn to fat loss. This could be doing 20 minutes of HIIT training or going for a 40 minute LISS workout. By adding one of these workouts into your training routine, you can burn roughly an extra 1300 calories a week which roughly correlates to one third of a pound extra lost each week.
Be Realistic with Goal Setting
Be realistic with your timeframe. Getting toned doesn’t happen overnight and there is no specific exercise or diet that is going to get you healthy and toned quickly. The trick is to be consistent with your diet and training. Therefore, make lifestyle and dietary changes that are sustainable in your daily life too.
As everybody is different, each person has a different idea of what ‘being toned’ would look like for them. For some, simply achieving a healthy body fat level is their goal. This means they can make simple changes to their diet and lifestyle whilst still being able to enjoy social time with friends and family. However, others view getting a lean 6-pack as being ‘toned’. However, this requires a lot more time, effort and dedication as you may have to give up social time to go to the gym or you may even struggle to go to social gatherings where food is involved due to the strictness of your diet. Ultimately, it is about finding the right balance between having a happy and healthy social life whilst also working to achieve your goals.
Now you have some of the basic ways to tone up you can now try and implement them into your fitness routine and daily life. If you would like some more personalised information come and talk to one of our friendly and experienced personal trainers at Beckwith Health Club who will be more than happy to help.