I don’t like to pick holes in the words that people use to express themselves, but whenever I hear of see the words ‘toning exercises’ or ‘I just want to tone up’ I die a little bit on the inside.

Bad jokes aside; I would really like to address this ‘tone up’ / ‘toning’ mentality and I hope that this message is shared far and wide for all women to see.

Before I go any further; I have a favour to ask.  If you read to the end and you like what you read, please share this message with your friend’s, family and foes.  Though it seems like a small and insignificant action, your share could change another woman’s life, or at least make them think twice about what they wish for.

What is toning anyway?

The actual definition of the word ‘tone’ is; ‘to give greater strength or firmness to’.  Put simply, ‘toning’ is the process of adding strength and firmness to our muscles.

So when a woman says she wants to ‘tone up’, what she’s actually saying is that she wants stronger and firmer muscles.

How can we tone up our muscles with toning exercises?

Shut the front door because all is about to be revealed…

‘Toning’ exercises aren’t real.  Yep, you read that correctly; ‘toning’ exercises aren’t real.  'Tone up' isn't really a thing.  You can build a muscle giving it a firm appearance, but it doesn't 'tone up', it is built.  

If we focus on the end result; there is no difference between a ‘toning’ exercise and a muscle building exercise. 

It is the terminology that women cling to here, because for some reason we have been sold the idea that ‘muscle building’ isn’t very ‘ladylike’, whereas ‘toning’ is.  Well I’m sure none of us felt very ladylike when we sprouted our first upper lip hair, but life went on.

The worst part of it all

What’s worse than a society that clings to meaningless words?  One that sells women an array of ‘toning exercises’ (aka; exercises that aren’t real), so that they can work hard performing moves that don’t achieve what they think they want.

‘Toning exercises’ don’t work.  They work in the fact that they burn some calories, but they don’t actually ‘tone up’ anything.

If you want to ‘tone up’ you need to listen up.  (Technically you’re not listening you’re reading, but I like that sentence so I’m not changing it).  

How to actually tone up (build muscle)

It doesn’t really matter what words you use to describe the process or result.  The only thing that matters is that you get the results that you really want.

In order to ‘tone up’ you need to apply some resistance to your muscles.  I mean real resistance, not those little 3lb pink dumbbells.  This is necessary because it is the resistance that makes the muscle firmer, leaner, stronger and bigger.

Let’s talk about ‘bigger’ for a second because I feel this is what puts women in team ‘tone up’ rather than team muscle build.

Lifting weights won’t make you ‘bulky’

Understand that as a woman you do not have the testosterone levels to ‘get big’.  The lifting technique used to vastly increase muscle size, is far more complex than lifting a set of dumbbells heavy enough that you make funny faces.

Thinking it is that easy is an insult, to women and men, who have built a physique beyond what you personally desire.

The physical results of words like; ‘toning’, ‘muscle building’ and ‘bulky’ are in the eye of the beholder.  What I mean by that is; you and I could have very different physical images in mind when we use these terms. 

That is why we need to cut through the terminology and lead you towards what you actually want.

Words are words, we use them to communicate but we understand only from our own level of perception.  Let’s not nit-pick because the more time we spend doing that, the less time we spend doing far more important things, like building muscle.

What 'tone up' really means

I’m not putting words into mouths here, but I am boldly going to say that unless you mean;

‘Burn calories without altering your body composition’

When you use the term;

‘Tone up’

What you actually want is lean muscle growth. 

To get that, you’re going to need to lift some weights.

You can’t expect lean muscle to appear where there is none, equally you can’t expect lean muscle to grow if you’re not working it hard enough.

To be clear; in order to achieve a firmer and leaner physical appearance, you need to put your muscles to work.  There is no other way to achieve this. 

Case closed. 

Go lift some heavy weights...