First let’s define what being toned really means. By knowing the definition, it will help you change your exercise plan to work on getting the look you desire. Being toned is when your body fat percentage is low enough so that your muscle definition shows through.
So with that said, you most likely don’t look more toned because you are still carrying too much body fat or at least too much in the areas where you want muscle to show. With that out of the way, let’s see what you can change to get that toned look.
Reduce Your Body Fat Percentage
If you are carrying too much body fat, then your first goal should be to reduce it down by burning more calories than you are eating. Generally speaking you have to consume somewhere between 14 and 18 calories per pound of weight just to maintain or stay at the same weight.
So it would make sense that to lose weight, you have to burn more calories than you eat. How many calories? Start with a 500-calorie deficit per day.
Over the course of a week, that 500-calorie deficit adds up to 3,500 calories or a 1-pound weight loss. Monitor your weight/body fat percentage and adjust as necessary.
Increase the Size of Your Strength Training Workouts
Once you have your body fat percentage down to 21-24% for women or 14-17% for men, you can start building muscle if losing body fat alone did not get you the toned look you want. To build muscle, you have to lift weights. If you are woman, don’t worry – you won’t bulk up; your hormone make-up won’t let you.
The only way to build muscle is to lift moderately heavy weights until you can’t lift another one – called muscle failure. Strive to work the same muscle groups every other day 3 times per week.
Challenge Your Muscles
However, don’t get into a routine of lifting the same amount of weight the same number of times. In order to build muscle over time, you have to challenge your muscles. To do that you have to lift more weight or lift the same weight more times during your next routine than you did your last routine – called progressive overload. Otherwise, your muscles will only develop to the point of where they can satisfy the load placed upon them and no more.
Eat More Calories
To build muscle and get that more toned look, your muscles have to have enough to “eat”. In other words you have to consume more calories than your body needs. But wait, won’t the extra calories get stored as fat? Not if you are doing the progressive overload correctly.
We know how many calories you have to consume just to maintain. To build muscle, eat from 250 to 500 more calories than you need. Watch your weight and your body fat percentage. If you are doing things right, you should gain from 0.5 to 1 pound per week of muscle, but not any additional body fat. If you are gaining less or more, add in or cut out more calories, respectively.
Once you get the muscle toning you want, then eat the number of calories you require to maintain it and stay with your strength training program to keep your current muscle mass.