How to get ‘toned’ muscles

by | Feb 16, 2020 | Fitness, Motivation

❌ All of the cardio
❌cutting out calories/carbs

✅ lift heavy (progressive overload)
✅eat some food because gains

As a personal trainer I hear the phrase ‘I don’t want to build any muscle, I just want to tone up a little bit’ on more often than not, a daily basis.

This phrase gets on my very last nerve.

Why? Because over time the media have used this phrase to falsely advertise to women (and sometimes men) that cardio, fat burning supplements and those unnecessary little buy me off your tv ab cruncher machines will get them ‘toned’.


So when someone gets this idea of a ‘toned’ physique in their head, they don’t actually know that all of those methods above are wrong. They don’t want to go and get in the weights section and lift anything heavy…because they don’t want to get ‘manly’ or ‘too big’. They don’t want to go home and have some sweet potato delicious orange mash on their plate…because it will make them fat 🙄.

My last nerve…it’s getting angry.

So let’s talk about toning. What actually is it?


Muscle. Muscle is the word I see there.

It is physically impossible to look ‘toned’ without having some muscle beneath your skin. Fact.

If you are gonna ask your PT to get you a ‘toned’ finished physique, what you should actually be asking for is ‘a bloody hard transformation, a load of graft and a structured nutrition plan’.
You should also know that you have chosen one of the hardest transformations in the book and you should be willing to work your butt off to get there.
You should also know that you will not be standing on a treadmill for 60 mins a day and going home to have a green tea capsule.

So how do we get that ‘toned’ look?

1. Build yourself some muscles by weight lifting/resistance training.

2. Eat your calories and carbs for energy to lift some heavy weight.

3. Get your protein intake up to fuel and grow those muscles. Protein is the building block and your most important macronutrient.

4. Hang onto (preserve) that muscle by carrying on with your weight lifting/resistance training but add in a little bit of cardio to help shed a little bit of further body fat.

5. Further along the line, reduce either your fat or carb intake (not your protein), (and slowly at that), to help with further fat loss. This is known as a caloric deficit….you won’t lose body fat unless you are burning more calories than you consume. Another little fact.

And that is how you will get ‘toned’ 🦄.

For a whole year I’ve chased being ‘toned’ when all I was really doing was a bit of cardio, very few/light weights here and there, and eating what I wanted. Inevitably I gained weight and looked softer. Purely because I wasn’t preserving muscle by weight training, I wasn’t burning off more than I ate, and what I did choose to eat wasn’t the correct fuel for my body.
It’s granted that all of the above was because of ill health but the point I’m trying to make is that you can’t get the ‘toned’ look without putting in the work that is required and having the correct knowledge.

After my first lot of treatment I am now 6 weeks into our 8 week bootcamp. I’ve kept to the fundamentals of the plan, gotten in the exercise that my body will physically allow me to do and I’ve sucked it up when I’ve wanted to give in. My body is physically drained after a workout and I suffer for several days after….but it’s not about excuses, it’s about doing what you have to to get where you want to be. I also haven’t missed one single meal because I know that my body needs it for fuel. Nutrition is always first and foremost, you won’t get ‘toned’ if you don’t eat. You also won’t get ‘toned’ if you overeat.

Have I been 100% on point the whole time. Honestly no. But I’ve been 98%. Life as I always say sometimes gets in the way. But for the next 2 weeks it will be crunch time. I will crack down, stick to the weight training that I can do and then add in a little more cardio to burn extra calories. I haven’t actually dropped a single ounce of weight on the scales…but my body does look different. Smaller. Leaner. Tighter. Not manly by any means.
Do you know why? ‘Food for fuel and toned muscles’ 😝.

I’ve also not used any green tea or ketone capsules, and I haven’t bought an ab cruncher off of QVC.

Being toned doesn’t mean in any way, shape or form that you will look manly. You absolutely 100% need to rely on muscle to get that toned, defined physique. Don’t believe the media, don’t believe Instagram or the magazines….the magazines will sell you green tea capsules on one page to look like Kim K and then print a recipe for cake on the next. Go figure.

Just work hard and apply the points listed above. That is literally all it takes.

Happy Sunday guys ❤.