The majority of people that work out will, at one time or another, have said that they want to “tone up” but what does this actually mean? Toning up requires two things: gaining muscle and losing body fat.
In order to have a toned physique, you must create an environment that will support muscle building. This is not as simple as just lifting big heavy weights and drinking protein shakes with some raw eggs on the side.
More often that not, the quest to build muscle results in an increase in body fat and a bloated stomach! The first thing that you need to remember is that muscle is denser and heavier that fat so we would expect the scales to go up temporarily. As your metabolism speeds up (more muscles require more calories!) and you shed fat, the scales may well alter again. Athletes often weigh more than they look so you have to decide what is more important to you: being lighter on the scale or having a leaner body.
Cardio: Aim to do 20 mins of cardio per day! This could be anything from running, swimming, cycling or a brisk walk around the park.
Cardiovascular exercise will keep your body fat percentage down but will also improve blood flow around the body.
This will increase the speed at which you recover. The faster you recover, the quicker you can build muscle.
Sleep: Try to aim for 8 hours every single night!!
Sleep is one of the key factors in recovery and staying mentally focused on your goals. Sleep also plays a huge role in balancing hormones so if you are sleep deprived, you may find it harder to lose weight.
Water: Try to drink a minimum of 2-3 litres per day and even more during workouts.
Hydration is one of the most overlooked things in performance and wellbeing. Water is essential for all of the bodily functions, including fat loss!
Protein: You need 1g of protein per lb of bodyweight. (eg. A 200lb pound man should aim for 200g per day)
You can consume protein in many different ways, but the most effective way is through a balanced diet with a healthy source of carbohydrates, proteins and fats. One thing to make sure of though is that if you are conscious of gaining body fat whilst increasing muscle, stick to lean protein options like chicken and fish.
Weight Training: Try to train 2- 4 times a week for 30 – 60 mins and use a variety of resistance work to keep the body guessing (bodyweight exercises, resistance band work, free weights and functional weight training i.e. kettle bells and TRX work are all great choices!)
This is an essential part to building muscle in the correct areas. You do not need to lift super heavy weights to build muscle but you should work at the edge of your capacity. Your body will only get stronger if you demand of it more than it is currently doing.
To sum up the tips that have been given: you need to have a the right balance of food (including sufficient protein), water, efficient training along side time to sleep well and recover before training again. These are all key ingredients to successfully gaining and maintaining muscle!
It takes time, dedication and determination, but keep positive and enjoy the journey!