A necessary condition to start exercise is to have a body which is strong, firm, with no extra kilos and with good structure (the muscle will come).
Surely, you have heard and read so many other times about “building” or “toning” muscles.
Are “building” and “toning” different?
In the lines of this article, we answer certain issues, trying to establish the best way to maintain a strong and firm muscular shape while you are training.
Here are the topics discussed today:
- Is muscle “toning” and “building” the same thing?
- What is achieved by muscle toning and how?
- Is muscle toning possible with bodybuilding?
- Is muscle toning possible even with extra kilos?
- Do I need many repetitions to achieve muscle toning?
- What are the basic rules of muscle toning?
Is muscle “Toning” and “Building” the Same Thing?
It is a fact that not all the persons visiting a gym have the same goals. Some individuals aim at weight loss, or muscle strengthening, while others want to increase the muscle volume.
This is a true comment, since all bodies, or even the final goal, are different from each other.
For example, a person wishes to have muscle bulking and body shape, unlike another person that aims at enhancing the cardiovascular, the respiratory function and the feeling of wellness.
Finally – also important – the endurance of each athlete is different, a fact that necessarily changes the way and clearly the intensity of training.
Many people think that muscle toning and building is the same thing, referring to it in exactly the same way.
However, in reality it is not exactly the same thing. Yes. In fact, both result in muscle strengthening, having also some differences, to be mentioned further down.
Referring to “muscle toning” (Muscle Toning), we mean to increase the strength of body muscles, offering lengthening and increase of their endurance.
Pay attention at this point, as the muscle bulking does not enter as a result, of muscle building techniques (Muscle Building).
Is the type of training / sport / physical activity important?
Yes. There are many types of exercise aiming precisely at this muscle strengthening, but not at the growth of body mass. Pilates, yoga, tai chi and various forms of aerobic exercise (such as zumba or dance) and sports (such as swimming), enhance what we call “muscle toning”.
All this terminology sounds – and maybe it is – a little confusing, even vague. In any case, we’ll try to eliminate every dark point and come up with the best (for you) way to exercise.
What is achieved with Muscle Toning and how?
In muscle toning process, the muscles are mobilized and strengthened. Besides, there is a muscle stretch (also called as “stretching” of muscles).
Every form of exercise aiming at muscle toning carries an entire philosophy behind it on how the program of exercises per lesson is organized.
This does not mean that toning will not bring muscle benefits. Do not be confused. Even the mildest physical activity can bring significant muscle gain & bulking growth.
This makes sense as you think about it. From the moment you “wake up” and start “working” with a program for your muscles, you will definitely achieve ribbing and muscle bulking.
However, it is not the same in the case of bodybuilding, which, as implied by the term itself clearly aims at muscle mass and the “rebuilding” of the body.
But again, depending on the way and intensity of the exercises, the number and speed of repetitions, the weight used and the time allowed to rest between sets, comes as result of the extent muscle bulking achieved (more or less).
Just think of muscles as “living organisms”, responding to data specified.
As you increase the intensity of training, they will be strengthened to cope with what you ask of them.
Can I achieve Muscle Toning with Bodybuilding?
Both bodybuilding and milder forms of exercise (as yoga) are beneficial for the body, the organism and health in general (especially when applied correctly).
Nevertheless, many are proponents of bodybuilding or pilates and yoga respectively, as we are talking about 2 completely different categories of people, with completely different philosophies of life.
Rarely will you see a person doing yoga and bodybuilding. This is precisely because the end goal is completely different.
However, even with pilates or yoga you can achieve a certain number of muscle bulking (not as much as in weightlifting).
Besides, with bodybuilding (and depending on the exercises selected) you can equally achieve a good level of muscle toning and elongation.
Is Muscle Toning possible even with Excess Weight?
As repeatedly emphasized muscle toning, is one case and another is the muscle building.
Many people wonder if they can follow muscle-toning program even with excessive kilos.
Does that make sense? Will results be visible? Do you need any other type of training for people with more body fat?
Here is the experts’ opinion on this issue.
Muscle toning helps in various areas of health and daily function of organism. For example, it better supports the skeletal system, enhances good posture, prevents injuries, helps with movement and enhances cardiovascular function.
However, the muscles are under the layer of fat in body. When there is a large amount of fat covering the muscles, even following toning these cannot be visible.
Let’s get things straight, the fact that they are not being visible (at least not until body fat is reduced enough) does not mean they do not exist. The muscles are toned and always there when you manage to lose enough of your body weight, they will show clearly.
A combination of exercise and diet is the ideal way to reduce fat in a quick and effective way and gain better muscle mass.
Do I Need Many Repetitions for achieving Muscle Toning?
What is the real issue with repetitions in training and which is the “misunderstanding” usually emerging?
Many people make the mistake of starting workouts with a lot of weight (thinking that in this way they will have faster results).
In any case, this is not accurate.
Lifting a very large load (beyond individual limits) – apart from the fact of risk injuries – you can not do a sufficient number of repetitions because you get tired right away.
However, the repetitions are those to stimulate the muscles, strengthen them, giving them endurance, while “forming” them.
So start with a lower weight and do as many reps per set as you can. Gradually, your muscle strength increases, increasing the load lifted. At the same time, you see gaining significant muscle benefits.
Experts offer their opinion as a suggestion: “Do not lift as long as you can. Try to lift a load to about 60% of the load normally carried for a repetition.
Neither more, nor less (as it will simply have almost no effect).
During last set of repetitions, you should feel exhausted (this signaling the load selected was the right one).
Even with smaller load in your last set, it is not a problem. Do not leave it. Reduce the load and complete your repetitions normally. The results are visible immediately from the very first weeks”.
Basic Rules of Muscle Toning
We asked a trainer (personal trainer) to tell us briefly the basic rules of proper and safe muscle toning.
These rules apply not only to beginners but also to all athletes, being important to be followed faithfully by all.
- Warm up (Warming up the muscles)
- Proper training program
- Distribution of muscle groups in a complete weekly program
- Variable intensity of exercises
- Variety of exercises / training procedures
- Alternation of the completion times of the exercises
- Training that depends on the physical condition of the individual
- Proper elaboration of exercises
- Muscle healing
- Nutrition – Hydration – Sleep
It would be useful to have a brief look at these rules above in more detail.
Warming up muscles (before any type of workout selected) is probably the most important part (along with recovery).
It will protect you from injuries during training, but it will also provides a greater range of muscle movements and joint strength.
A proper warm-up (also known as stretching) should “warm up” all the muscle groups of body, so they are ready to perform the predetermined exercises.
With the warm-up, you undertake to slowly raise your body temperature and prepare your muscular system for the upcoming workout.
Nevertheless, warming up is not only a “physical” process but also a “psychological” process.
In addition to body, warming up aims to prepare the person psychologically moving from complete inactivity, to intensity of training gradually and safely.
Then it is important to organize a proper training program. An experienced instructor can definitely provide help on this point.
However – if you prefer to train alone at home – you need to know a few important things in order to make a proper exercise program.
The program may not be common to everyone (meaning a friend’s program is not necessarily the right one for you) as well.
Age, physical condition, state of health, sex, origin, DNA, hormonal status, free time available, time available for sleep, diet followed, daily habits, are just some of the factors you should consider before organizing your training program.
Therefore, following organizing all this information in your mind, you should also focus on organizing the weekly training program.
This practically means selecting the right muscle groups engaged on work in each workout and a well-thought-out distribution of them in a weekly plan including all of them.
It is very important not to focus only on limited muscle groups. Exercising the entire body will give you a much better visual result and more strength and endurance for workouts.
The intensity of training is coming next, determined by your own physical condition, your body condition and your endurance.
There is virtually no effective or ineffective intensity scale. Even low-intensity interval training (LIIT) can be just as beneficial as high-intensity interval training (HIIT).
However, in certain cases, the intensity also relates to training time, as you noticed high-intensity exercise programs are usually applied only for 20-30 minutes.
What you really need to know is that high-intensity training increases (as evidenced by scientific studies) the production of growth hormone (Human Growth Hormone / HGH), dramatically.
This hormone, also known as “youth hormone”, is produced by the organism naturally, in large quantities, during childhood. Then – and as we get older – its production decreases.
Therefore, it is this hormone to help you break down stored body fat for energy production, meaning it helps to lose fat (weight) and show the toned muscle more clearly.
Finally, we move on to some more important rules determining the effectiveness of the muscle toning of the workouts.
The fluctuating intensity of exercises can help to develop equally muscular strength but also aerobic condition and endurance.
The variety of exercises and training procedures selected to help train different muscles each time (and in a different way), as well as not to get involved in boring workouts.
The alternation of the exercises completion times stimulates the cardiovascular and respiratory function, so increasing the athletic endurance.
A point requiring special attention is the proper preparation of the exercises. During this period, – especially for a beginner, an expert in the field can ideally provide help.
A personal trainer guides you to use the body, breath, and even the weight properly for the correct application of exercises (avoiding injuries).
Certainly, at the end of each workout you should dedicate 10 minutes (minimum) to muscle recovery. This helps to increase the muscle gains and maintain the muscles healthy after a very intense workout.
However, the muscle recovery also includes a combination of Nutrition – Hydration – Sleep.
Diet, exercise, adequate body hydration along with good and quality sleep go together.
These factors play an important role in the ultimate benefits of your workouts, also determining the overall health and fitness.