Thursday, September 3, 2009

What does "Toning" Really Mean?

By Jillian Michaels

All of us want to "tone" our muscles to achieve a cut, fit look. But what exactly is "toning"? Let me clarify a little: The word "toning" has nothing to do with the size of a particular muscle; it refers rather to making a muscle lean by burning intramuscular fat, and conditioning the muscle for better performance.

You can't actually build muscle mass unless you're eating more calories than you're burning, but you can tone a muscle to make it leaner. To tone your muscles, you should weight-train four days a week, working each muscle group twice a week. After you work a particular muscle group, you should give it two days of rest before you focus on it again.

Here's a sample toning program that works each muscle group without overdoing it:

Monday: Work the chest, shoulders, triceps, quads, upper abs, obliques.
Tuesday: Work the back, biceps, hamstrings, glutes, lower abs.
Wednesday: Rest.
Thursday: Work the chest, shoulders, triceps, quads, upper abs, obliques.
Friday: Work the back, biceps, hamstrings, glutes, lower abs.
Saturday: Rest.
Sunday: Do a cardio-only workout.

Remember: Exercise is the architect, but recovery is the builder. You have to give your body adequate recovery time to heal itself and grow stronger. If you work out too often without resting, you'll just break your muscles down.

Afraid of Bulk?

Women always tell me that they feel hesitant about toning exercises that require weights because they're afraid of building bulky muscles. Hear me out, ladies: It's extremely difficult for women to gain muscle mass simply by doing toning exercises — we don't have the testosterone that guys do that lets them build mass. Using weights to tone your muscles will make you look trim and terrific, not big and bulky.


  1. Toning vs. muscle building is different as Jillian points out. I wish more women would understand this & not be afraid of weights because they are so important to bone health, weight maintenance & more.

    Now, when I was younger, I was one of the minority of women that could actually get big with weights BUT I learned how to use them to my advantage. Even if you are like me, it is not destiny to be a big ole muscular woman. There are so many ways to do resistance training without getting big. Plus food is HUGE in this process!

    Thx Cher.

  2. I think it's so cute how you *heart* Jillian. I've fallen off of weights (bad move), but did a great routine yesterday, and now this post serves as extra motivation and encouragement.



  3. i <3 Jillian, yes, yes i do! lol she's been the only "celebrity" trainer to get me really motivated. she's no nonsense, no fluff, and a straight shooter. i've been getting her daily emails for over 2 yrs, and she's just so encouraging, and her books are so easy to read and understand.


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