Wednesday, May 5, 2010

"Muscle toning" workouts

Many people, especially women desire a fit, lean, toned body. There seems to be some controversy in the fitness community about how to achieve this look. Many people seem to believe that there is a different means by which you “tone” muscles as opposed to getting the big, muscular look. That’s actually not true, both looks require some form of resistance training, usually free-weight training. In order to get that definition, muscle needs to be built. Many trainees work out with weights that are too light due to their fear of getting “bulky”. There are so many other factors that weigh in to getting large muscles. One is genetics. There are few, but not many people with a genetic propensity toward gaining muscle quickly. Most of these individuals are men, since muscle growth is largely dependent on the hormone testosterone. Women naturally have very little of this hormone, so this is one reason why it is highly unlikely that most women need to worry about excess muscle growth. Another factor is nutrition. You need to be in a major caloric surplus to put on massive amounts of muscle. These top bodybuilding competitors that scare most of us with their huge shredded muscles consume thousands of extra calories a day to support that muscle growth. That is another reason most women need not fear getting too muscular, most women don’t eat a surplus of calories each day. If anything, many women are in a chronic deficit due to trying to “watch their figure”. You simply cannot build muscle without the building blocks (amino acids and carbohydrates) available. The last factor is the use of anabolic steroids. Unfortunately, a vast majority of athletes that appear “too muscular” to fit in with the mainstream are using these substances. So if you don’t have superior genetics, eat mass quantities of protein and carbohydrates or take ergogenic aids (anabolic steroids) you can train as hard and as often as needed without fear.

The principles involved in getting the toned, tight look are threefold. The increase in muscle size from training is what gives that nice, shapely look to all of the body parts. The second factor is cardiovascular activity to burn off that layer of fat that is blanketing the muscle. Lastly, and most important is nutrition. The most well planned out and rigorous workout program will be unsuccessful if the trainee’s diet is not intact. A proper amount of nutrients to support the workouts, and the right foods. 100 calories of French fries is not equal to 100 calories of oatmeal.

The take home message is that there is only one way to a nice, aesthetically pleasing, toned physique. It is with a good, balanced training and cardio program coupled with a clean, healthy diet.