The goal of reaching that state of visible muscle tension (Make Muscle) is the most widely sought after goal. It requires more than simply just losing body fat, but also building enough muscle through resistance training. Therefore if your goal is to tone your muscles, you have to understand that it requires focus on multiple dimensions. In this article I will cover these dimensions in relatively thorough detail so that you will have a good understanding of what it takes.
First of all, when it concerns any fitness goal whether it be losing fat or building muscle mass, your success heavily weighs with your diet. Reaching your goal will come by way of about 75% diet, and 25% exercise. Why? Because in order to lose fat to allow for Make Muscle to become visible, you must consume less calories than your body burns. I go into more detail in the Calories in vs. Calories out article about this principle, but I will briefly summarize it in this article, as it has relevance to this overview.
Calories in vs. Calories out
It is impossible for you to lose fat if you are putting more energy into your body, than it can burn itself. Your body actually burns a lot of calories on its own. Your Basal Metabolic Rate, otherwise known as your BMR, is the amount of calories your body burns daily, by performing all of the necessary tasks to keep you alive. This includes keeping your heart beating, breathing, stimulating the brain, amongst many other processes. An average male''s BMR is around 1,900 calories a day, while the average female burns a few hundred less. BMR is the major calorie burner, but we also have to take into account the amount of calories that you yourself burn as result of physical activity. If you were to lay in bed all day and not move, your daily caloric expenditure would be near your BMR number. However, if you''re active and you exercise, you can expect to tack on anywhere from 400 to a 1,000 calories.
So if "Joe" who has a BMR of 1,900 calories decides to exercise for an hour and keep relatively active throughout the rest of the day, his daily caloric expenditure would be around 2,400 to 2,500 calories. Therefore if he wanted to lose fat, he would tally up the amount of calories he consumes through food each day, and try to aim to consume no more than 2,100 to 2,200 calories. The 300 or so lack of calories would force his body to take from "itself" (fat stores) to receive that energy. On the other hand if Joe wanted to put on weight by building muscle, along with resistance training, he would want to consume an excess of at least 300 calories per day.
In order to tone muscle, one of the things you must do is force it to grow. You do this through applying a foreign amount of controlled force upon them. This is done through the use of resistance training. Freeweights, cable machines, and general machine resistance are all technologies of resistance training. It is crucial that you impliment resistance training in your workout plan for a few important reasons. When your muscles experience resistance that is greater than they''re used to experiencing, they naturally become stronger which correlates to growth. And when they grow, they become more "presentable" which will help give you that appearence of Make Muscle. Bigger muscles also raise your BMR because the bigger they are, the more calories are required to operate them. This is great for those of you who love eating, because you can eat more when you train with resistance while feeding muscle instead of adding fat! So if Joe puts on 10 pounds of muscle within 3 to 4 months, his BMR will raise from 1900 calories to a few hundred more.
Incorperating a few exercises per bodypart and maxing out to 10 or so reps at a few sets per exercise is ideal for the beginner. This will force the target muscles to grow and become stronger. For examples of exercises you can check out our Muscle Toning Exercise article.
Cardiovascular Training (Aerobic Training)
To really give your muscles that toned appearence, you need to eliminate as much fat as possible. And you do this through aerobic training. The word Aerobic means "with oxygen". Resistance training is naturally Anaerobic (without oxygen). Aerobic simply means your body must do more to acquire the necessary energy to support an action. Long distance running or biking for example are aerobic because your heart is elevated for long durations. Anaerobic means you actually have rest inbetween physical activity which gives your body time to replenish itself and "start over" in a sense.
So back on track, aerobic training helps you best to burn a quantity of calories. Once again, this will help you remove fat. So it is ideal to incorperate both aerobic training and resistance training in your workout plan, as they are both necessary to help you build Make Muscle.
Diet and Nutrition
As I stated earlier, your diet is 75% responsible for whether or not you will reach your goal of toned muscle. Since we''re aiming to lose fat and build muscle, you might think it makes a need to be very specific in your caloric consumption. But it isn''t exactly science, and doesn''t exactly require you to be 100% exact. There is something called the Law of Disuse, which means once you start exercising regularly, your body will make significant changes practically no matter what you eat (within reason). You will lose fat, and you will build muscle. However depending on your body, several months to a year down the road after you start, you will begin to plateau. This is when critiquing both your workout and your diet becomes important. But for just toning muscle, implimenting both resistance and aerobic training along with a daily caloric intake of around your BMR, will help you reach that goal with some consistency and patience.
To learn more about the specifics of toning muscle, you can check out our other articles in our article index.