This is a great question I received from a reader.
Without delving too much into the science of training and nutrition, here is the quick summary.
1. Toning up is all about reducing your extra layer of body fat to reveal the toned muscle underneath. Think of a sculptor chiseling away at a marble block to reveal a beautiful statue underneath.
2. You need to use a combination of diet, weight training (super important) and cardio to get this result. It can be done without cardio but I like to include both types of exercise for overall health.
3. The typical approach to toning up is to do tonnes of cardio and diet, with weights being done if people have a spare 30 minutes. The optimal approach would be to optimise your weight training over cardio.
I would aim for a minimum of two full body weight training sessions per week but would prefer 3 to get better results.
4. In order to lose fat and keep your muscle it is imperative to eat less calories than your body needs and to keep your protein intake high. I don't mean astronomical levels of protein. For our clients we like to use 1-2 palm sized portions of protein per meal. This is great because you are all different sizes and this can be individualized to the size of your own hand.
Protein is essential to keep muscle protein synthesis happening which is the natural rebuilding process of your lean muscle tissue in your body.
In fact, some people have actually gained a little bit of muscle while being eating 1000 less calories per day and the main reason they could do this was because they did weights 3-4 times per week and upped their protein intake.
We need the calorie deficit because we want to lose the excess body fat. Also, by eating less you will not be able to add size to your body, you will keep your lean muscle, make it harder and firmer because you are constantly doing weights and you will look smaller and fitter and more toned.
5. So, here is how a weekly schedule could look like.
That's too much for me John, I can only train three times per week.
Cool, simply knock off the cardio, keep the weights, eat in a calorie deficit and keep your protein high. Add in 5,000-10,000 steps per day to increase your energy output and reduce stress and you will still get great results.
What If I can only train twice per week?
You can do it, but the results will take a hell of a lot longer to get and you will have to progressively train harder in those two sessions.
1. Eat in a calorie deficit and keep your protein intake higher than normal (eat 1-2 palm sizes of protein at every meal).
2. Prioritise weight training over cardio and aim for at least 2-3 sessions per week.
3. Constantly aim to progress your training so that you are lifting more or moving faster every month.
Does this make sense?
If you are stuck for programs, here is a great example of a weight training program for fat loss and muscle toning.
Let me know if you have any questions about toning up without getting big muscles.
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