Six-pack abs and buns of steel are just some of the expressions used to describe the end result of muscle toning exercises. It is undeniable that having a slim and toned physique is desirable, and there are many ways to get there (just as there are many tricks designed to make you think you can get there without the work).
The Facts about Muscle Toning
Toning is something of an inaccurate expression, as you cannot really tone your muscles. The expression is understood as getting leaner and adding definition to your muscles. Your muscles cannot be lengthened, without surgery that is, but you can make them bigger, thus making your muscles more visible. The end result of this is a toned look. The way you get a toned body is by lifting weights and this strengthens and increases your muscles.
Toning exercises are great, but they will not remove the fat around the muscle. This is why muscle toning exercises should entail a combination of weight lifting, diet and cardio exercise. As long as there is no fat in the way of your muscles being seen, you will have a toned physique.
Weight Lifting and Stretching
The first is weight lifting. The idea is to use low weights with a high number of reps. This will gradually increase the size of the muscle, while building strength. High weight with few reps builds bulk, and this is not what you want for a toned look. An important step in weight lifting is stretching before and after working out. This will help to protect the muscles and the stretch reflex action from being overworked (and damaging the muscle).
The stretch reflex is the action by which the muscle stretches in reaction to the contraction of another part of the muscle. This is a natural design which helps to protect the muscle from damage due to overstretching. If pushed too hard, especially in a cold state, this action can be damaged causing tearing or rupturing of the muscle. This is why it is important to warm up with very light dynamic stretching before a work out session.
Reps, Reps, Reps
The key to muscle toning exercises lies within the reps. Using low weights and a high number of reps, the muscles are slowly stretched and contracted, giving a leaner look and feel. Working all the muscles evenly helps to bring about a smooth and chiseled look to the body. Using too much weight will lead to overly bulky muscles and a bodybuilder look instead of a toned look.
Beware of The Shortcuts
If you have ever watched late night infomercials, you’ve seen the ads for the devices that do all the work for you. These are bunk and should be avoided at all costs. Do not use these things, as they are useless and could cause damage. Also, any advice on how to get toned really fast probably ignores safety, and there is nothing more important than protecting yourself during workouts.
Take the time to do weight lifting correctly, use proper and well trusted equipment, and it’s best to do this with someone else. Weight lifting deserves to be done right, even if it means taking a bit longer.