Muscle Toning: Getting That Chiseled Look


Men generally like to build muscle, while women prefer to “tone” their muscles. Toning involves making the muscles firmer and more defined – not necessarily bulkier. But the two strategies are really very much the same.

What is toning?
Toning has become a catchall term for “muscle conditioning.” It means having defined muscles that are firm to the touch. Improving your muscular endurance or strength will help to tone your muscles. If you are overweight, you will need to slim down, too.

There are two components to toning:

1.Building muscle
2.Losing any surrounding fat
Muscles can be trained individually with machines, free weights, or calisthenics (exercises like jumping jacks) at a health club or at home. If you are new to toning, you can work with an instructor to make sure you use the correct form, alignment, and technique.

Spot training will not work, though, if you are trying to lose fat that is hiding your muscles. Belly fat isn’t converted into muscle when you do sit-ups, for instance. Sit-ups done correctly will build your abs, but you may have to lose weight overall to make your new abs stand out.

Who should consider toning?
Toning or strength training should be part of any exercise program. People begin to lose muscle mass fairly rapidly as they age if they don’t use and condition muscles regularly. If you haven’t been exercising or are overweight, though, check with your doctor before you start.

A toning workout can help you build up strength. Your routine may include daily walks, stretching, floor work, and some low-weight resistance exercises. Repetitive-motion exercises can also put you on the right track to get those muscles moving. Resistance training should be part of your workout, too. You don’t have to be a weight trainer to know that we all rely on our muscles for daily activities.

I’m ready! Where do I start?
Before you join a gym or buy costly equipment, you may want to start with a few toning exercises 3 times a week for 1 month. Start slowly by walking regularly to build up your strength and endurance. Then, increase your activity when you feel ready.

If you decide that toning is right for you, consider joining a class. Group activities are fun because you can socialize while you exercise. You’ll get to work with weights and other tools during your class, such as stretch bands.

If you take care of your muscles today, you likely will not only look and feel better, but it may help you to live independently for a longer time.

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