Tone or Bulk - FIT Human Performance

Tone or Bulk


May 13, 2012

If you’re wondering how to build muscle tone, then keep reading. First, to destroy all the myths out there about “toning” muscles … and then to tell you what you should do to get that toned look you really want.

Myth #1: You CAN Tone Muscles.

You can’t actually “tone” a muscle.  Your muscles only do a couple of things: they get bigger; they get smaller; they get stronger; they get weaker. In the most simplistic of terms, all muscles do is contract.

Toning is not something muscles do. So what happens to a muscle that gives it that toned look? When you’re walking around your muscles are always “half on”, which means there’s residual tension left in the muscles and that is what gives them a “half flexed” (toned) look. So that’s what a toned muscle really is, a muscle that has retained some tension.

So there is no specific exercise for toning this or toning that … that’s all nonsense.

Myth #2: High Reps Tone Muscles

High reps do NOT tone muscles … at least not for long. Want to know what happens when you perform high reps of an exercise? You build up lots of lactic acid.

Lactic acid builds up in the muscles and they TEMPORARILY become stiffer, harder, and more full. Once your body clears the lactic acid build up, your muscles return back to a normal state. A corpse on the other hand builds up lactic acid and has no way to clear it from its muscles (because it’s dead) and that’s what makes a “stiff”… a stiff.

So high reps aren’t the answer either.

Myth #3: Heavy Weights Make You “Bulky”

If I had a dime for every time I’ve heard this one! Basically the myth is “I don’t want to get too big, so I’m not going to lift heavy weights because they’ll make me bigger! No lifting for me. I’ll just get huge.”… give me a break. It’s just not true.

You need two things in addition to heavy weights to get BIGGER – 1. Lots of volume, and 2. Lots of food. As long as you’re not lifting those heavy weights a LOT (by a lot I mean  HOURS of multiple heavy weight lifting every day) and, you’re not eating a lot (by that I mean like a horse) … then you’ll never gain appreciable size.

You really think those guys on bodybuilding magazines got that big without actually TRYING, or without pharmaceutical help (a topic for another time)?  NO, otherwise we would all be huge!

So, how do YOU really Build Muscle Tone?

How do you get that toned look you really want? You need residual tension left in your  muscles right? It can’t come from high rep “pumps” because the lactic acid produced quickly clears out of the muscles … so what to do?

Build strength – Lift challenging weight loads – as often as possible – and with low volume/repititions during each practice!  Low volume means frequent workouts with functional moves, safe and under control.

The overall volume is kept low, the frequency is high, and the tension is high… and you get that “toned” look!

The other part of the equation:

You Can’t Out-Train the Kitchen Table

You won’t look toned if you have a lot of fat covering those muscles, so you should control your diet (at least a little bit), and do some cardio training  for fat loss.

If you take these tips to heart , it will be quite easy for you to create that toned muscle look.

In good health,


 “I think it’s more important to be fit so that you can be healthy and enjoy activities than it is to have a good body.”  – Rachel Blanchard