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  • Emily

How to get "toned"

"I don't want to get bulky, I just want to get toned". Ah, the elusive "tone". We know it when we see it but have no idea how to get ourselves there - or even if our body is capable of that sort of slim yet muscular appearance. Many of my clients tell me that they're looking to tone their bodies in one or more areas. So, here are the major tenants of toning.

1. You need to build muscle if it's not already there

This might seem obvious, but hear me out. Muscle tone requires muscles of a certain size. And in order to build muscle, you are essentially making the muscle bigger. Don't worry, making it bigger does not mean bulky. When you damage a muscle through stress (working out) it will repair itself and will be bigger than it was before.

Let's say you want to tone your arms. You would need to stress those upper body muscles (biceps, triceps, shoulders, chest, etc.) and then rest those muscles so that they can repair stronger and larger than before. The rest is critical! During rest is when the muscle growth happens.

So, step one to toning is having muscle. There are many ways to build muscle including weight lifting, resistance training, bodyweight exercises, and weight machines.

2. You may need to lose weight

It's possible that you have muscle but also have a disproportionate amount of fat. That's okay. With a few lifestyle changes and healthier habits, you can work to lose weight and naturally expose some of the muscle that's underneath. Here are a few basics without getting overly complicated:

- Increase vegetable intake

- Drink lots of water

- Avoid sugary beverages (and alcohol!)

- Eat lean proteins (make sure you have a relatively high amount of protein in your diet (about 20%), especially if you are strength training)

- Eat whole grains

If you're able to make those changes and lose a little bit of weight you may notice more muscle tone because the fat that was hiding the muscle is now gone.

**If your goal is not weight loss but you do want to get stronger, continue with training your muscles for strength. "Toned" is not the end all be all of fitness or of wellness.**

3. Reduce consumption of things that cause bloating

When your body is bloated you won't see muscle tone as easily. So, stay away from foods and beverages that cause you to feel or look bloated. This list varies from person to person but here are a few common culprits:

- Dairy (milk, cheese etc.)

- Beans

- Alcohol

- Lentils

- Fake sugars (artificial sweeteners)

- Carbonated beverages

It doesn't mean that you have to avoid these foods forever but limit the quantity if you are looking to prime your toned appearance.

4. Drink water

Drink water! 'nuff said

5. Rest and recover

Rest is just as important as work when it comes to building muscle and getting "toned". Make sure you are allowing at least 36 hours between working the same muscle groups (note that the time of recovery is different for different people).

Also, the key to getting toned is not doing loads of cardio. In fact, too much cardio can prevent you from getting the necessary muscle building you need. Keep your cardio to a max of 45 minutes per session and aim for no more than 3-4 days of cardio (again, this is different for everyone).

6. Be patient

Body transformation doesn't happen overnight. And your body is great today and will be great tomorrow. Stay positive on whatever health journey you are on and be patient when trying to reach your goals. Hard things take time.

As with many health-related goals, becoming more toned requires consistency. You don't have to be perfect but you may have to make certain sacrifices to get to your goal.

Questions? Send me a message!

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