The latest fitness statistics reveal that around 43 percent of women in America exercise three times or more per week.
There are lots of reasons why women start working out. Often, though, appearance has something to do with it.
It's extremely common for women (and men) to set out on their fitness journey, looking to increase muscle tone and shed body fat or, put more simply, to get “toned.”
Unfortunately, most of the advice flooding the internet intended to help you tone up is just plain wrong. There really is no other way to put it.
Why? What's the problem?
Generally, the accepted gym wisdom goes like this: To tone, use light weights and lots of reps. To bulk, lift heavy with few reps. Science, however, begs to differ.
So, if you're a woman trying to learn how to get toned, how should you proceed? Here's a basic workout to get you started.
What You Need to Know
Before we dive into the details of the workout, though, it's important that we clarify some of the principles behind it. And justify some of the pretty forceful statements made above.
As mentioned, women looking to get toned typically use in “low weight/high rep” strategy. We also plainly stated that this was not the best approach.
Well, think about it this way: Toning requires that you lose fat while also building visible muscle. Otherwise, you'll be skinny. Not toned.
The low weight/high rep technique, though, does very little to stimulate the development of muscles. Of course, that doesn't make it useless. You will still burn large amounts of calories and improve your endurance. Essentially, these workouts amount to cardio.
Lifting heavy – something many women dread – however, will develop your muscle fibers. At the same time, that increased muscle will gradually speed up your metabolism.
“But I don't want to get bulky,” you're probably thinking. That's fine. You won't. Women simply do not produce enough testosterone to achieve a bulky physique.
Specifically, this workout will require you to work with a weight that limits you to about 10 reps. This is the range that tends to focus on muscle fiber development while also keeping your heart rate elevated and increasing your caloric expenditure.
We'll also focus on compound lifts, movements that emphasize your biggest muscle groups, and use several muscles all at once. Not only are those more natural movements but they have the greatest impact on your metabolism – supporting your fat loss efforts.
To maximize your caloric burn and round out your fitness, this workout also includes two days of cardio – of both the high and low-intensity varieties.
Although increasing your muscle is the best way to speed up your metabolism in the long-term, cardio burns much more fuel during the actual workout. Combining the two training methods, then, is the best way to make rapid, balanced progress.
But that's quite a bit of information thrown at you pretty quickly. Basically, a good toning workout for women will sport the following features:
- Heavy weights, restricting you to about 10 reps per set
- Rest no more than 60 seconds between sets
- Focus on compound lifts
- Use both high- and low-intensity interval training
Right, so enough talk. Here's the workout template.
Monday – Legs & Shoulders (rest 60 seconds between sets)
- Barbell squat (4 sets, 10 reps)
- Romanian deadlift (4 sets, 10 reps)
- Glute bridge (3 sets, 20 reps)
- Dumbbell shoulder press (4 sets, 10 reps)
- Dumbbell rear delt fly (4 sets, 10 reps)
- Low intensity, 30 minutes
- Barbell bench press (4 sets, 10 reps)
- Push-ups, any variety (4 sets, 10 reps)
- Dumbbell chest flys (3 sets, 20 reps)
- Tricep dips (4 sets, 10 reps)
- Dumbbell tricep kickbacks (4 sets, 10 reps)
- High-intensity interval training, 20 minutes
- Weighted woodchop (4 sets, 10 reps)
- Mountain climbers (2 sets, 20 reps)
- Plank (30 seconds)
- Side plank (30 seconds)
- Deadlift (4 sets, 10 reps)
- Bentover row (4 sets, 10 reps)
- Lat pulldown (3 sets, 20 reps)
- Bicep curls (4 sets, 10 reps)