Exercises To Tone: Can you tone your body?

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Exercises To Tone: Can you tone your body?

Exercises to tone your body, exercises to tone your body, exercises to tone….exercises to…exer…you’ve probably heard this over and over. There are apparently exercises that will help you “tone” a particular body part, or make sure you stay lean. The easiest way to achieve this is to do high reps, as high reps “carve” the muscle and bring it out as if you are sculpting a Greek statue at a local arts academy. If only this was the case…I mean, think about it this way. If you could honestly make changes to the way your muscles look by doing a particular exercise, or by doing a certain amount of repetitions for an exercise, wouldn’t you think we’d have a ton more people walking around looking aesthetic? Exercises to tone your body do not exist, and neither does the actual concept of “toning”.

It’s understandable this may come as a shock, and perhaps even be revolting to some, but it’s the truth. The problem is the fact that this myth has been so deeply rooted in popular fitness culture that it’s hard to let it go, and it’s hard to think otherwise. However, I’m here to show you how the toning concept doesn’t even exist, let alone particular exercises that tone your body or methods to train. This is real life, not a sculpture class.

To begin, when people wish to tone their body or a muscle group, what they essentially want to achieve is something called aesthetics. They want the muscles to pop out by being lean, and they want it to look good and pleasing to the eye. Most often, this toning misconception is applied to the abs, where people believe that exercises can make you lose belly fat, and since this concept is specific to the overall article you’re reading about here, I suggest you read it. Just as you are unable to use exercises to remove fat from your waist, you cannot use exercises or repetitions to “tone”. The factors as to why that is not possible, are exactly the same. So let’s get to them, with a specific understanding in this article as it is applied to toning.

Exercises to tone do not exist because the reason the muscle does not look aesthetic (the way you want it, and the way you try to get it to look by toning) is because of high body fat. If we have someone who is at 10% body fat, and someone who is at 16% body fat, they will look radically different even if they have the same muscle mass, because of how much body fat covers that muscle. When you are attempting to tone, what you are attempting to do is spot-reduce fat in order to uncover the muscle. Not only can you not spot reduce fat, but you cannot do an exercise and hope that it transforms how visible your muscle is. All of these problems are created by body fat, so the only way you can fix these reasons and achieve what you want (aesthetics), is through burning that fat away while allowing that muscle to remain. As the body fat drops, and the muscle remains, you will be able to achieve what you originally wished to achieve through the concept of toning (which you wouldn’t succeed in if you had kept at it).

In review, let’s go over the common misconception.


Specific exercises, or high repetitions, allow you to remove away the fat that is covering the muscle (tone).


How much your muscle shows is body fat specific, and the only way you can achieve the end result is to drop enough body fat. For that, you need to be able to figure out your maintenance calories per day.

Just today at the gym I was doing a few sets of a bicep exercise with a friend I ran into, and we got on the topic of how many reps we do. I told him that I vary it up for various reasons, and he told me that he keeps his reps high in order to stay lean. Since his reps are high, he’s able to grow his muscle without any accompanying fat. Needless to say, even among people who are rather fitness oriented, the myth pursues. Like I said, its the biggest myth to let go because of its popularity. If you like to train with higher repetitions, that’s fine as long as you reach muscle fatigue (tax your muscles enough to grow), but it has nothing to do with how you wind up looking overall. All of that is related to your body fat levels compared to your lean body mass levels, nothing else. If you want to look more aesthetic, drop some fat, which means work on what you do in the kitchen by following that article about maintenance calories. As long as you work hard in the gym, and stick to a proper diet, you’ll achieve what you desire. However, the way you exercise is not going to affect your results (unless you are under-performing at the gym, then of course…but that’s a given).

Certain exercises can only help you burn more calories (squats vs. bicep curls, as an example, you should see the difference is obvious in calories burned based on the sheer amount of physical activity involved in the former), but there are no exercises to tone your body. How fat drops and from where is up to your body to decide, if you’re doing everything else correctly (diet and hard workouts). Similarly, high reps or low reps don’t matter as long as you are reaching muscle fatigue and taxing your muscles enough to grow (or maintain themselves the way they are as you shift to dropping fat to uncover them). Good Luck!

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