The Truth About Getting Toned

I just want to lose some weight and be toned, but I don’t want to lift weights and get bulky and manly.

This is probably the number one most common reaction when I tell people how to lose weight and look good. Unfortunately, this statement is also 100% counterintuitive.

The Truth About Toned

Let’s look at the word “toned.” When we think of that word, we often definition and firmness in the look of a woman’s body. And why wouldn’t we? Every diet and workout for women ever known to mankind promises to make you look toned, and their marketing material showcases a very attractive, and well… “toned” looking woman. And so we equate that look with being toned. Case in point:

What you might not realize, however, is that women who are toned have actually lifted weights (and I don’t mean the 1 or 2 pound dumbbells) in order to achieve that look.

What?! Lifting weights, but Christie, I can’t do that, I would get kinda manly looking and that’s not the look I’m going for.

Let me rephrase it like this.

If the meaning of toned is a defined, firm body, then factually speaking, there must be muscle underneath that actually creates the toned look. Without our muscles, we are simply skeletons. Muscle is what creates definition. Muscle growth and fat loss together create definition and firmness on a woman’s body.

Do you see what I’m saying? Scientifically, the only way to achieve that toned body that we all strive for is to build muscle and lose fat. The only way to build muscle in any part of our bodies is to lift weights progressively heavier or/and with progressively increasing reps. When you challenge the muscle with a heavier weight or more reps, tiny tears occur in our muscle fibers. When these teeny tiny tears repair themselves (and we help them repair by eating correctly and feeding our muscles, not starving ourselves), the muscle builds itself back just a fraction larger.

This also means that if you have been lifting those two pound dumbbells every week after your cardio at the gym, you won’t be getting toned anytime soon.

I’d also like to take this time to point out, that women simply do not have enough testosterone in their bodies to “get bulky like a man” unless they try very, very hard and train specifically for that look over many years, or take steroids. In addition, muscle is the only thing that will create curves on a woman’s body (besides plastic surgery), and last time I checked, curves weren’t manly.

So if lifting progressively weights is the answer to getting toned, you may be thinking to yourself, why have I never heard of this before? 

The sad truth of the matter is that the fitness and weight loss industries profit off of your lack of knowledge. People will spend infinite money on the latest fad diets, workouts, or trainers, all in the hope of losing weight and getting toned. And when they don’t lose weight or get toned, they get frustrated and give up. And then they’ll come back again and spend more money. This may sound familiar, because I think all of us have experienced this before - I know I did.

Now that you know the facts, you may be wondering how to go about actually getting toned and building that muscle. I wish I had a simple, one-liner answer for you - but unfortunately that does not exist. Getting "toned" requires a combination of habits and factors that work together, but at the most basic level it's this: feed your body the correct nutrition to build muscle and lose fat, lift progressively heavier weights, get good sleep and drink a lot of water.

I understand that this can all be a bit confusing, so if you have a question or comment please leave it below, I'd love to know what you think!

Christie ChiouComment