Health is SO much more than a toned body. Feeling strong and athletic is by far one of the best feelings (in my opinion!) but, of course, tightening up and feeling light in your own body is one of my clients' most common goals.
While I encourage body positivity for all, aesthetic goals are still relatively high on the priority list for gym-goers. One important thing to remember is that aesthetics aren't necessarily related to health and fitness, and while they tend to correlate with one another, no healthy body looks the same.
You probably clicked on this blog to learn more about training for aesthetics, so let's put that at the forefront of this educational post. How do we get TONED UP for the season?
Let me share my top 3 tips with you!
1) Tailor Your Training Split
Getting toned is all about muscle:fat ratio. What toning really is, is building muscle and losing fat so that you can see the muscle. Building muscle does NOT mean you are to be bulky (refer to our previous blog Bring Truth to 3 Popular Fitness Myths). There is no one-size-fits-all for training and getting toned, but ideally you want your focus to be on weight training and use cardio as a supplement. Focusing on weights will help maintain or grow your muscle so your body becomes strong, more firm, and the muscle is more visible. Using cardio as a supplement (yes, walking counts are cardio in this case!) 2-3x/week will help keep up your cardio health and aid in fat loss. The key takeaway is that weight training is the core of your training (3-5x/week) and cardio is just a supplement.
2) Be Mindful of Nutrition
Since toning up is all about building muscle and losing fat, nutrition will be a key player. Choosing foods that offer plenty of nutrition at each meal (think lots of greens/seasonal vegetables, fiber, and protein) will pay dividends, not only to your performance, focus, and well-being, but to your aesthetic goals as well. No need to count calories or macros if that's not your thing (!!), but being mindful of what you are consuming and aiming to have a protein-rich diet (~.8-1g per lb of goal body weight daily) will be a game-changer for you. Protein is by far the most important macronutrient to focus on as it helps repair damaged cells, increases the termogenic effect of food, and since it's slow digesting, is very satiating. This means, you should feel fuller and more satisfied, longer!
Extremes are outdated! We all know that heavily restricting calories and food groups, over exercising, and over commitment do NOT work for us long-term. If you are after speedy results, be prepared to bounce back to old habits sooner than later! After all, the goal is to KEEP any results that we achieve, right?! This means we have to set realistic timelines and goals for ourselves, in order to set ourselves up for success. Keep in mind, the average person can safely lose 0.5-1 lb of fat per week (2-4 lbs per month) and gain 0.5-2 lbs of muscle per month (females on the lower spectrum, males on the higher given training splits and diet align). In order to achieve this, you must have the appropriate training split (as discussed earlier), a diet rich in protein, and be eating at maintenance calories, or in a slight deficit. I often see people heavily restricting their diet during the week, only to overeat and "undo" their calorie deficit on the weekend because they didn't maintain a healthy balance during the week. If you do maintain balance and you over-restrict, you will be much more likely to overeat the foods you restricted (or overeat with everything) which will take you our of your deficit and, ultimately, not get you very far with your goals.
To simplify everything we've learned today, if your goals are to get toned up, you will want to focus on weight training a few times per week with supplementary cardio, have a diet rich in nutrition such as greens/seasonal vegetables, fiber, and protein, and lastly, maintain a healthy balance in your diet and lifestyle. Avoid any extremes to achieve fast results as this almost always leads to frustration and difficulty maintaining everything you've worked so hard for. After all, creating healthy habits around exercise and nutrition is by far the best way to achieve any goal you put your mind to!