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How to get toned

“I would like to lose weight and get toned” – probably one of the most common fitness goals among women. I hear it all the time, so I thought I would write a quick explainer on how to get there.

First of all, what is being toned?

When you see people who are toned, you are looking at someone with considerable lean mass (muscle tissue) and a relatively low body fat percentage.

Developing lean mass

Developing lean mass is a result of resistance training and I am not talking about 1-2kg dumbbells here. When starting a resistance training plan you want to progressively overload your muscles. As a beginner it is quite common to put on lean mass fairly quickly. Most women I speak to who’s goal it is to get toned are immediately scared of weight training because there is an inherent fear of becoming “bulky”. If you wanted to become seriously “bulky” it would take years of consistent hypotrophy training and tailored nutrition. So don’t worry, you won’t get there by accident, getting “bulky” is actually very difficult to achieve.

Body Fat Percentage

The second component of looking toned is your body fat percentage. I don’t want to give a figure here because we are all unique in where we store fat and at what body fat percentage someone looks toned. But you can get your personal body fat percentage taken by a qualified personal trainer or at your GP. Below is a rough visual guide on body fat percentages, but again I would take these with pinch of salt.

Source: https://www.builtlean.com/body-fat-percentage-men-women/

Bulk or Cut – which one to do first

The next question might be, which goal should you pursue first in the quest to getting a toned physique, building muscle or trimming fat? And the answer is it depends. If you are seriously overweight your main focus should be to reduce your overall body fat percentage to improve your health. If your current BFP does not put you in any risk categories, you can focus on building muscle first before you go into a cut. For the latter it is quite common that you will see a body composition change (without being in a caloric deficit); you might be able to build muscle and lose fat at the same time.

Your Action Plan to a toned body

Stop worrying about becoming bulky if you start lifting weights. Get yourself a coach who can write you a good resistance training program. Tailor your nutrition, eat enough protein and hit your calorie target. Give yourself time and don’t expect overnight miracles. The bigger the change, the longer it will take. There is no shortcut that leads to longterm success. Start enjoying the process.

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