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The Truth About Toning

Are You Being Misled?

Posted by ohawkey - July 18th, 2015

You may have noticed TV ads and magazines selling exercise equipment of workout routines like to use the word “toning.” They’re usually a workout to tone up the arms, tone the stomach, or tone/firm up the legs.

What Exactly Is Toning?
There isn’t an exact definition for toning. Toning generally means creating more definition in the muscles. A toning workout usually has high repetition exercises done with very light weights. It is targeted towards people who want to get in shape, but are afraid of getting too bulky from lifting heavy weights.

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Can You Actually Tone Your Muscles?
No. Muscles can either get bigger or smaller. Doing endless repetitions with light weight is not going to produce any good results. You need to actually build some muscle and have low body fat to see the “tone” in your muscles. For a natural athlete, lifting heavy weights will not instantly turn you into a massive bodybuilder. It takes years of hard work to build that much muscle, so put down those pink dumbbells and lift heavy. Don’t fall for any more of these toning workout programs.

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Brolle81  Edit  Delete  Close

Yeah sadly it was. Not sure what type of person that they focused on. I sure as hell wouldn't touch it...


I file "toning" with "wanting to get big without getting strong" - useless sentiments both. 

Or, to quote this sage:

“Everybody wants to be a bodybuilder, but nobody wants to lift no heavy-ass weights.”

 Ronnie Coleman

ohawkey  Edit  Delete  Close

can't avoid those heavy ass weights


Another myth put to rest! Thanks!


Somebody had to say it!


Bravo to this article!


One body part I want to tone and tighten for life: stomach!


I just have to post this picture :P

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Scott_Herman  Edit  Delete  Close

hahaha this pretty much sums it up @whisper!  Great article @ohawkey


I think we all agree that throwing around with 1 lbs pink dumb bells will get you no where and surely also not 'tone' anything. To straighten a flappy or not tone area you need to fill it with actual muscle, and loose some fat. Yet I kinda have an own opinion on that too. And i am certain i have heard that before from others too: I think there are a bit differences in how muscles look. (but we are talking actual muscles here and not the skinny arms of someone who does some aerobics with tiny weights) I believe the biggest difference actually comes from the "type" of resistance and weight training. In my personal opinion the muscles of everybody who is practicing sports / gymnastics/ Athletics are much more compact and dense, and often look crazy defined even at still higher bodyfat levels, than the 10-3 % some others have to go down to, in order to look really defined. I think it comes from the extreme long time under tension most of those exercises require, the muscles get stretched into absolute lenght, and have to hold their load often for long periods.Thusly the same goes for every bodybuilder who trains in a way where they keep their muscles under long tensions plus full range of motion. Opposed to the typical half swung, half-range reps some people do - They are often having more round and somewhat sloppy looking muscle definition. In general i would sum it up as : you look like what you train like. :)

ohawkey  Edit  Delete  Close

yeah.. those guys that do the constant tension half reps do look puffier


Robert - The other distinction is tone muscles are somewhat tense even at rest.  While losing body fat is the only way to increase muscle definition, weight bearing exercise on a regular basis improves a muscle's resting tension.  A tone indivdual's muscles have more shape and tension at rest regardless of body fat levels than an untrained individual.


this is very good to know, one of my of friend would use 5lbs weights says wants to get toned, but i always thought like you said, if you lose your body fat then you would see the big muscles underneath, awesome article Robert!

ohawkey  Edit  Delete  Close

Haha I hope your friend isn't doing anymore toning workouts @fox84