The Tone Myth

muscle tone

So you want to get toned? You may be well aware by now that for you to get the toned body that you want, you will need to perform a high number of reps. Right? Well… this isn’t actually true. It’s just a myth.

First, let’s look at what we mean by being ‘toned’. A well-toned body will have a high level of muscle definition and good muscle separation too.


Body Fat Percentage Is Often The Key Reason Why You Don’t Have A Toned Body

Now, what is muscle definition?… this is when the muscle is visible on your body. There are two factors that determine how toned you are. In fact, it’s mainly just one factor that contributes to you having a toned body. This factor is body fat percentage.

A high body fat percentage means your muscles are hidden under a layer of fat. This causes a reduction in the visibility of the muscles. Often you find thin people who don’t workout much, looking toned with a six-pack, albeit an underdeveloped one. And this is down to their low body fat percentage. If you want to be toned you too need to have a low body fat percentage. This means actively training to support this outcome. It includes both workout program and dietary program designed to reduce your body fat.


Weight Training Will Get You Toned And Not Necessarily Bulky

Now the second factor is still important and is often overlooked; muscle size – without adequate muscle mass then there won’t be much to show once your body fat percentage has dropped. Often when people say they “wanted to get toned”, it usually means they want firm muscle. This can only be achieved by resistance training. Now, resistance-training won’t make you bulky after a few sessions otherwise we would see a lot of people looking like bodybuilders; this is just not the case. Putting on mass and serious size takes time and dedication, not just in the gym, but with your diet as well.

Resistance training using weights and following a progressive overload regime will add muscle mass over time, giving them more size and shape and in this case more firmness. Once you have found a size you are happy with, you can simply maintain that regime, dropping the progressive overload system. This will prevent you from putting on any unwanted mass to your muscles to some extent.

So these two factors – body fat percentage, and muscle size is what leads to a toned body.


Train Effectively To Sculpt Your Body

The final factor, which is less important, is muscle separation. Muscle separation tends to play a bigger role for bodybuilders. Muscle separation is when each muscle is highly identifiable from within its muscle group. For example, the frontal deltoid has a clear and defined edge from the middle deltoid and the point where it meets the upper pectoral.

To acquire this muscle separation, the above two factors need to be set, and often to a high degree. Secondly, the separation comes down to specific workout methods that induced this. And that’s is only once you have sufficient size for this to show. And last, genetics will play a role in muscle separation; some will have it, some want. But unless you are looking to become a bodybuilder I wouldn’t worry – you’ll look good anyway at this point.


So remember in the end, the toned look you are looking comes down to body fat and muscle size. So keep training, eat clean, and lift weights… Simple!



  1. The lower abs seem the hardest to bring out. I think that there is more fat there. The diet gets harder to strip this last bit off. Hanging in there though…

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