All information in this blog is written by Jessica Neill, Personal Trainer at Crunch Fitness Australia
One of the first goals many people give themselves (or their Trainer) when starting out on their fitness journey is to look “toned”. But what does that actually mean?
Simply put, “muscle tone” is how visible your muscles are from the outside. Muscle has a much smoother, firmer texture than fat and is generally considered more aesthetically pleasing, which makes it a very common goal in people. What a lot of people don’t realise is that when talking about “tone” they’re actually referring to the ratio of muscle to fat in their body. For example:
High muscle mass : low body fat = toned
Low muscle mass : low body fat = not toned
Low muscle mass : high body fat = not toned
High muscle mass : high body fat = not toned
With that in mind, how can you achieve high muscle mass to low body fat ratio?
- Have patience. Expecting that it will happen overnight is going to set you up for disappointment. 6-12 months is a great timeline to give yourself, so slow down, find a Crunch Trainer who can help you set some realistic goals and program properly for you, join some classes to see what keeps you inspired, enjoy the process and learn as much as you can along the way about what is going to suit your lifestyle the best!
- Progressive overload. To build muscle you need to be constantly applying stimulus to the muscle fibres. This can only be achieved with a well-written, periodised program by an experienced Trainer which tracks your weights, reps and rest periods and ensures your total training volume increases overtime.
- Increase your protein! To lose fat and gain muscle at the same time is quite contradictory (one requires a caloric deficit, the other requires a surplus), and so it takes time to do properly. 1.5g – 2g of protein per kg of bodyweight each day is generally recommended to give you the best chance of growing muscle and lowering body fat; and it’s a lot more food than most people expect (100g chicken breast contains around 30g of protein)!
- Reducing or removing environmental stressors. Our bodies can’t tell the difference between stress from a job, or stress from exercise; its all just stress releasing cortisol and adrenaline into our systems making us have trouble falling asleep, causing digestive issues and often tying in with emotional binge-eating. Not exactly a recipe for muscle growth or fat loss!
If you have toxic relationships or have a job you don’t like; eliminate what you can and if you can’t eliminate then find something that helps you relax and do it often. Things like reading, time alone, meditation, yoga, sun baking, spending time with loved ones, listening to your favourite music are all great ways to help reduce stress.
Things that WON’T help you gain muscle tone:
- Hours of cardio with no weights. Cardio is great for your heart and lungs and actually DOES burn fat, so should play a part in any training program to an extent, but long hours of cardio also burns muscle along with it. Not so great if your goal is to look toned!
- Under-eating (aka too-large caloric deficit). As mentioned above, it actually takes a lot of food to build muscle, so if you’re severely under-eating in an attempt to lose boy fat quickly, you’re actually going to be reducing both muscle and fat at the same time. Getting guidance from a professional is always best if you’re unsure.
- Stopping and starting every few months. While it definitely won’t hurt you to have the occasional weekend blow-out at a food buffet or take a couple of weeks off for a holiday; consistency is key when it comes to building lean muscle mass and losing body fat. If you look at the food and exercise you do over a period of 6-12 months, the general trend should be more training, movement and eating well, than not.
If you’re someone who tends to stop-start and are getting nowhere, getting some help from a Trainer and/or Dietician might be the key to your success in making permanent changes!
- Thinking that you’ll look like Arnold Schwarzenegger if you lift weights. Arnie is an inspiration to many, but remember that was how he made his living for a long time! People who look like this train for hours per day, and have rigid sleeping and eating schedules. Rest easy; your 1-5 sessions per week in the gym won’t get you to that level. Lift heavy and have a blast doing it!
Jessica Neill, Personal Trainer
Image Source @_jessneill_pt
HOW DO YOU GET STARTED?
You can perform strength training at home or in the gym. There are a variety of exercises you can perform to help build lean muscle mass; bodyweight, free weights & weight machines. Crunch Fitness provides all the necessary equipment & classes to help improve your strength.
IMPROVE YOUR FITNESS PLAN AT CRUNCH FITNESS
Here at Crunch, we’ve got tons of weights, rows of cardio & loads of equipment available from treadmills to cross-trainers and rowers for you to check out! Download your Free Pass to trial our gym for FREE! No matter where you are with your health & fitness plan, we can provide the advice you need to move forward to reach your goals. Our certified world-class personal trainers are here to help you and make you feel confident with your fitness journey!