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How to "Tone" Your Body

This is typically everyone’s goal, right? To look “toned”. Well that toned look actually comes from increasing your overall muscle mass and decreasing your overall body fat. If you just focus on losing fat without focusing on gaining muscle, you will end up looking skinny, or what some people say “skinny fat”. Not to mention, having a decent amount of muscle on your body will keep you strong, protect your joints, lower blood sugar, increase metabolism, lower body fat, and improve your self-confidence; just to name a few benefits.

There are some simple fundamentals you should follow in order to achieve this. But more importantly know that you will need to be patient because gaining muscle takes time. You will not build muscle overnight or even in a week; it takes patience, persistence, and consistency.

I will talk about two critical factors when it comes to gaining muscle; nutrition and training.

First, let’s talk about our nutrition, because nutrition is key, right?

1. Let’s talk protein!

Protein is going to be the foundational macronutrient when trying to gain muscle. Protein is used to help you maintain, repair, and grow muscle mass. When you workout, you are actually creating little micro tears in your muscles. The protein that you consume in your diet is then used to repair and rebuild your muscles (hopefully larger).

So how much protein should you consume?

Well it’s recommended to consume 0.8 to 1g of protein per pound of body weight. You could eat up to 1.2g of protein per pound of bodyweight but there is limiting research that shows the benefits of eating that much protein. So why not stick with what we know works? For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, you should be eating at least 120-150g of protein a day in order to maintain and/or increase muscle mass.

2. Eating in a calorie surplus

The number one question I get is “Can I gain muscle and lose fat at the same time?” My answer is…not really. The only exception to this is someone who is brand new to lifting. You will be able to get what I call “newbie gains”. So even if you are in a calorie deficit and focusing on fat loss; if you're new to weightlifting then yes it is possible to gain muscle and lose fat at the same time.

For everyone else that may be a little more intermediate in the gym, you will need to be in a calorie surplus. This means you need to eat more calories than the amount of calories you burn. Your body burns calories simply for surviving, digesting food, moving around throughout the day, and from purposeful exercise. This is called your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) or maintenance calories. I recommend starting with 100 calories over your maintenance calories to promote muscle growth.

The goal here is to eat enough calories to supply nutrients to your body and allow for muscle repair and rebuilding but not so many calories that you put on more fat than muscle.

Now that we have the nutrition part down, let's talk about training.

1. Choosing the right exercises

It can be overwhelming when you see a flood of all these new crazy exercises on social media, and trying to find the best exercises for you. If you’re not sure what exercises you need to be doing this is where I highly recommend hiring a coach to help guide you.

There are specific exercises that stimulate specific muscles in a way to allow for muscle growth. For example, doing a sumo deadlift is great to build strength, but not so much to build muscle. So if your goal is to grow your glutes, you want to focus on exercises that are going to directly stimulate the glutes i.e. RDL, High Step Ups, Hip Thrust, Bulgarian Split Squat, etc. You can’t just start doing swipe workouts on Instagram and expect to get the best results. There is a purpose in exercise selection. Work smarter not harder.

2. Train with intent

Once you have your specific workout plan, you need to make sure you are executing that plan with intent. What I mean is you can’t just go through the motions and complete each workout and expect progress. You have to utilize progressive overload which means asking your body to do MORE each time you workout. You have to give your muscles a reason to grow.

You can achieve this by increasing reps, increasing sets, increasing weight, adjusting tempo, decreasing rest time, etc. Focus on one variable at a time to make sure that every time you step into the gym you are progressing, you are asking are body to do more, you are stimulating your muscles to ensure you can achieve muscle growth. You have to train with INTENSITY to achieve the needed stimulus for muscles to grow.

3. Take rest days

This is the most underrated aspect of muscle growth. A big misconception is that your muscles grow in the gym, but they actually grow while you rest and recover. If you are training too often, your muscles will not have time to repair and rebuild (larger). If you don’t let your body recover before going into the gym and training the same muscle group, you will be going into training sessions already fatigued and not be able to perform your best; i.e not being able to reach that stimulus threshold required for muscle growth. My advice is to choose workouts, volume, and frequency based on your ability to recover, because if you can’t recover from your workouts, you can’t progress.

If you have all of these fundamentals down; I guarantee you will be increasing your overall muscle mass.

After you have spent some time focusing on muscle growth, and by time I mean like 6 months to a year, then you can transition into a fat loss phase to reduce overall body fat and reveal all of that hard eared muscle.

Don’t forget…

Calorie deficit = fat loss (referred to as “cutting phase”)

Calorie surplus = muscle gain (referred to as “bulking phase”)

These are 2 separate phases that you will cycle through during your fitness journey to achieve your physique goals.

If you need some help building workouts or figuring out what nutrition approach is best for you, click here >

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