Toning…is bull shit. After reading yet another thread somewhere about some beginner wanting to “tone” I fought back a heart attack a la the Superfans and decided I’d let all the beginners in on a little secret:
You can’t “tone”. When you say you want to “tone” what you really mean is that you want muscles that show and are not soft, without getting huge. The problem is, there is no one way of working out that makes your muscles hard and defined and another that makes them large, soft and formless. Being “toned” is simply a function of having muscles and being lean enough to show them. This rant also applies to “lean and lengthen” muscles, it’s just a function of having muscle and being lean.
Gaining muscle is not easy, so when you say “I don’t want to get too big” and do some limp dick wokout, you aren’t accomplishing anything. Even if you don’t want to gain 50 pounds of muscular weight, that doesn’t make it any easier to gain the 5 you do want. You need to lift hard, using sensible exercises and rep ranges. Ladies, this means you can’t exclusively do thigh adductor and glute machine for a million reps and guys, you don’t need to be doing set after set of curls six inches from the mirror.
The kicker, I think, is that myogenic tone, the actual tonus of the muscle actually improves with heavy training and not with the sort of training people associate with “toning”.