The Toning Myth

The Toning Myth

“I just want to do a toning workout”
“What’s a good toning exercise for …”

If I hear either of these phrases uttered again I will scream!  There is no such thing as a toning exercise!  “Toning” is an imprecise and dangerous term and its not just an academic issue, its important to your success.  The problem is that “toning” has no exact meaning and thus results cannot be measured or obtained.  If you tell your trainer that you want to get a “toned body”, you are set up for failure from the start!

When you grill people who are “toning” what it is they are trying to accomplish, most of them say they just want their muscles harder. Well, news for you. The way to make your muscles “harder” is not to lift weights but to remove that layer of fat under the skin and to do this requires cardio and reduced caloric intake – not weight lifting!

Resistance training: makes muscles stronger and bigger
Cardio and diet: makes you leaner, more defined, and harder (by removing squishy fat)

If you don’t know exactly what you are trying to achieve, you will never achieve it.  Here are some different things that people mean by “toning”:


Goal: Example:
increase strength power-lifting
increase muscle mass bodybuilding
increase endurance marathon
increase speed swimming
increase flexibility yoga
decrease body-fat aerobic exercise
increase coordination gymnastics


If you can’t measure what it is you are trying to achieve, then you will never achieve it! You can see that all these goals are very different and your training regimen will be very different depending on how you define “toning”.

If by toning you mean that you want to get a little stronger and a little leaner, then lift weights a little and do a little cardio :)