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Toning Exercises: Tone Up Your Body For More Muscle Definition

Updated on May 1, 2013
Doing side planks.
Doing side planks. | Source

Tone Up

You have muscle and you have fat covering the muscle. When people talk about toning up they are usually trying to make their muscles more visible. They want to look strong and healthy without getting bigger. You can build muscle, lose muscle or maintain the muscle you have. You can not tone muscle. To make the muscle more visible you can build more muscle, lose fat, or do both.

Toning your body means getting rid of the fat that is hiding your muscles and if necessary making the muscle big enough to be noticed. The muscles become more defined. To show off my ab muscles I need to get rid of the extra fat and make sure there is something to see. Some skinny people don't have enough muscle to look toned. Increasing the size of their muscles would make them look firmer. Some heavy people have lots of muscle but the hard muscle is covered by soft loose fat.

Woman doing push-ups.
Woman doing push-ups. | Source
Man doing pull ups.
Man doing pull ups. | Source

Lose Fat

Getting rid of fat is a big part of toning up. The fat is covering the firm body you want to show off. Dieting can help get rid of the fat but diets can cause you to lose muscle. Food provides you with energy. You need it. If you want to lose fat without losing muscle then you need to eat lots of food but you don't need junk food. Reduce the amount of empty calories you consume by eating less junk and drinking fewer high calorie junk drinks like pop. Become more active so you burn more calories. Do activities that use up a lot of energy.

Building muscle helps with fat loss. If you have very little muscle it is harder to get rid of fat and keep it off. I would do a lot of intense cardio and weightlifting to lose fat fairly quickly. To burn more calories I would try to increase the intensity and duration of my workouts as my strength and endurance improved. If you want to lose more fat without gaining muscle then exercise more often but don't try to improve. Take fewer days off from exercise and spend less time sitting around.

Curling a heavy dumbbell.
Curling a heavy dumbbell. | Source
Doing push-ups with a heavy backpack.
Doing push-ups with a heavy backpack. | Source

Build Muscle

You can build muscle by lifting light weights or by lifting heavy weights. You could bike fast or bike slow. The workout just needs to be challenging. Do an exercise or workout routine long enough to experience muscle fatigue and you will build muscle. If I do 30 push ups in a row I experience muscle fatigue. If I do 10 push ups while wearing a heavy backpack I experience muscle fatigue. I feel like I reached my limit and my muscles need a break. When I want to build muscle I focus on exceeding my current limits. I try to keep improving. Once your muscles are the size you want them then stop increasing the difficulty of the workout.

Building muscle to tone your body is the same as building muscle to bulk up or slim down. You are building lean muscle because muscle is lean.

I start an exercise routine and keep increasing the difficulty until I am satisfied with the results. After I stop increasing the difficulty I stop building muscle. It is true that strength training can give you bigger muscles than endurance training. However in either case you just need to stop increasing the difficulty of the exercise to stop gaining muscle. If your body adapts to your routine and you don't change the routine then you don't continue to build more muscle. When building muscle you should experience some muscle pain and discomfort as well as increased strength or endurance after your muscles have had time to recover.

Maintain Your Body

Once you have enough muscle you should switch from gaining muscle to maintaining the muscle you have. One way is to keep the same routine. Another option is to change your routine without doing more or less than you were doing before. If you notice your muscles are getting bigger then reduce the intensity or duration of the exercise. If you notice your muscles are getting smaller then increase the intensity or duration of the exercise.

To keep the fat off burn the calories you consume. Consume fewer calories or burn more if you gain more fat. If you start to become too skinny then burn fewer calories or consume more. Keep paying close attention to your body. Muscle is hard, fat is soft and loose. Gaining or losing fat can make your muscles look bigger or smaller. You can check your body for fat by seeing how much you can grab and feeling how firm your body is.

Dumbbells.
Dumbbells. | Source
Bodyweight exercise.
Bodyweight exercise. | Source

Exercises

I tried using light weights to lose weight and I tried heavy weights for fat loss to see what approach worked better. Lifting light weights and doing a lot of repetitions is not a very efficient way to lose weight or build muscle. It does not work nearly as well as lifting heavy weights. Heavy weights are much better for building muscle and they are much better for getting rid of fat. Intense exercises can bring quicker results.

While you are exercising try putting some effort into it. It would be very difficult, if not impossible, for me to tone up my body by lifting light weights, walking or doing other easy exercises. I like doing short intense excises where the focus is on strength or speed and long difficult exercises where the focus is on endurance.

Push-ups, planks, pull ups, dumbbell curls, jumping rope, bicycling, running, shadow boxing, hiking, rollerskating, yoga, and lots of other exercises are good for toning your body. They can all help with fat loss and muscle building. Don't exercise to tone your muscles. Exercise to tone your body. If you need more muscle work at becoming better at the exercises. If you need to burn more calories then focus on using up a lot of energy.

For toning my favorite exercises are long distance biking, push-ups, pull ups and chin ups. I can quickly tone up my body within a few weeks by exercising and avoiding junk food. Toning should not take very long. You could firm up your body so you look better within two or three weeks. If you want to lose a lot of fat or gain a lot of muscle than you should not be worried about making your muscles more visible yet.

If you want to do more than tone then exercise to get a lean muscular body, gain muscle and bulk up or start a fat loss workout routine.

Interval Circuit Training

Circuit training is when you quickly go from one exercise to the next. You do different exercises to workout different muscles. The idea is to for the exercises to be intense. After completing all exercises you can go through the circuit again. Interval training is when you switch from high intensity to low intensity. You work out hard, reduce the intensity for a short break, then increase the intensity again.

With interval circuit training you can do more. Changing the muscles you workout allows you to last longer and so does changing the intensity. Intense workouts are efficient. You make good use of your time. However they can tire you out and cause muscle fatigue very quickly. Lowering the intensity gives you a chance to recover without stopping.

Starting an interval circuit routine is a good way to lose fat while building muscle or maintaining the muscle you have. It is a very effective and efficient way to improve your body. Choose a workout routine that will give you the results you want. You could lift weights, do body weight exercises, balance exercises, or cardio. Briefly reduce the intensity when it helps you continue to workout.

A good routine for toning could be barbell curls, push-ups, jumping rope, shadow boxing, planks and running. Workout hard spending around 2 minutes doing each one. Temporarily reduce the intensity when you need to by changing the speed, amount of weight you are lifting or the power. Do the circuit as many times as you can. I said it could be a good routine. It is not a good routine for everybody.

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