What is the secret of toned women? How did they achieve a look that’s strong but still feminine at the same time? And is it possible for regular women to get the same physique?
The good news is, there’s no big secret at all. The truth is, any female can achieve a toned body if she wants to. But first, we need to define what toned means.
What is a lightly toned female body?
The most common description for toned women is low body fat, with noticeable muscle definition, but not too much muscle, or “bulk.” They have muscle definition in their arms, shoulders, legs, and glutes, and some might even have a hint of abs.
With that in mind, let’s look at the regular female who works out.
A female who works out by jogging might lose excess body fat and build better cardiovascular health. Still, if that’s the only workout she does, she will lack the muscle definition, especially in the upper body, to achieve a toned look (although her legs might look mighty fine).
Also, a female who works out in the gym and lifts weights that don’t watch what she eats might gain a little more bulk than she wants because she might be building muscle but not losing fat.
Lastly, a female bodybuilder who does a lot of heavy lifting would look too muscular and bulky to be considered toned.
So the formula for a toned body is straightforward: Lose body fat + build some muscle = toned body.
How to tone up fast for females
One of the most common questions people ask is, “what’s the best way to tone the body”?
The best way to tone up fast is a combination of resistance training to build muscle and a calorie deficit to lose excess body fat. If you’re skinny and have to gain more muscle to get toned, you have to eat a little over your maintenance calorie level to help build muscle without putting on too much fat.
As for the abs, the good news is that you have six-pack abs, but you can’t see them yet because they’re hiding under a layer of fat. If you lower your body fat percentage by burning more calories than you consume, you’re guaranteed to see your abs and muscle in other places like the arms and shoulders.
I know that “weight training” is enough to scare women into thinking they would look like bodybuilders, which is probably why some choose running over the gym. And if they neglect lifting weights, they miss out on the toned look they desire.
Let me assure you that getting a physique like a female bodybuilder takes a lot of work.
First of all, women don’t even have as much testosterone as males, so it’s improbable they will start developing biceps that are as big as an anaconda.
It takes careful planning of the workouts so you can progressively add weight to what you lift to build bigger muscles. At the same time, you have to eat a lot more than usual to support muscle growth. Eating a caloric surplus alone could be challenging for females because they usually consume fewer calories. And let’s not forget about supplementation.
These are hard to accomplish if you’re just a regular gym-goer, and you would consciously have to put in the effort to start looking like a bodybuilder.
How to get a lean body for females
1. Group classes are great starting points
I know plenty of women who don’t like to go to the gym to lift weights.
But you still need to get off the couch and do something to get some sweat going.
This is why group classes in the gym are great starters for those who want to lose weight because there are still a lot of women who enjoy body pump, Zumba, yoga, pilates, spin cycle, and other forms of physical activities.
Many get encouraged by losing a few inches or pounds and the endorphins that flood their veins when they workout. Once you build some momentum, it will be easier to get your butt in the gym to lift weights and build muscles.
2. Get help from a coach if possible
Now that you’ve taken the first few steps to get a toned body, consider getting help from a professional (by the way, JackedVegans offers coaching for those who want to get ripped and look good naked).
People in business and professional athletes hire coaches because they have the expertise and knowledge to help them achieve their goals. They take away a lot of guesswork, they can help motivate you when the going gets tough, and they’re there to hold you accountable.
Is it possible to build muscle if you’re a new beginner with no prior experience? Yes, but it might take a lot longer. It’s also easy to feel demotivated when you don’t see the results you’re looking for right away.
3. Lift heavy sh*t
Building muscles will help you sculpt those arms and shoulders, build a bigger booty, and help give you that toned look. Muscle is more metabolically active than fat, meaning they burn more calories at rest than fat.
The more muscles you have, the more calories you potentially burn.
And one way for you to build more muscles is by lifting heavy weights. You don’t want to lift too heavy too soon for safety reasons, but you want to lift a weight that stimulates muscle growth.
4. Push yourself
To build bigger muscles, you have to challenge yourself to lift heavier weights continually.
If you pick up a 5 lb dumbbell and you can do 20 repetitions of it without breaking a sweat, then chances are it’s too light for you. But if you can’t lift a weight with good form for eight reps, it’s probably too heavy.
You want to lift a challenging weight and do it with good form for 8-12 reps.
Also, you can increase the intensity of the workout by doing the following:
- Increasing the weight
- Increasing the number of repetitions
- Use more power by doing the exercise as fast as possible, safely
- Decreasing rest time between sets
- Doing all of the above
For example, your workout could look like this in the first month of training:
(rest time is in minutes)
Push yourself in the gym, and you will build bigger muscles.
5. Avoid this common mistake
Newbie gains are great because it seems like the fat is melting off your body effortlessly, provided you do things correctly.
However, if you do the same things repeatedly, eventually, your body will adapt to the stress you apply to it and become efficient at burning calories. This means you will find it harder to burn calories with the same workouts. In short, you’ll stop seeing improvement.
This is called a plateau. One way to push past a plateau is by mixing up your workouts and keeping your body guessing to continue to see results.
You can mix up your workouts by switching from lifting heavy weights with low reps to lighter weights with higher repetitions: Shuffle HIIT and steady state-state cardio. Ideally, you want to change your routine every three to four weeks.
6. Eat plenty of protein
The recommended protein intake is between 0.8 – 1.0 g of protein per pound of body weight. Therefore, a 130 lb female needs to consume between 104 to 130 g of protein daily. It would be hard to grow your muscles without protein.
There are plenty of benefits to eating protein:
- It helps repair the muscles torn in the gym and enables you to recover from a workout.
- Protein helps you maintain muscle mass, which helps your metabolism.
- Eating more protein will keep you full longer.
The last benefit will help you with this net tip.
7. Watch your food portions
It’s normal to feel a bit hungrier than usual when you increase your physical activity but don’t use this as an excuse to eat twice as much of everything.
If you want to burn fat, it’s essential to keep track of your calorie intake; otherwise, you’ll carry extra bulk from having excess fat and muscle. If you’re skinny and want to put on muscle, you must eat proteins, carbs, and fats to support your growing body. (Here’s the Jackedvegans calorie calculator to help you find out what those numbers are).
Stick to foods that help you stay fuller longer, like a quality source of protein and fiber.
8. Drink plenty of water
People tend to overlook the importance of drinking water to burn fat and power their workouts.
There are numerous benefits of drinking water. It aids in lipolysis, helps keep you full, helps reduce the amount of liquid intake from other sources like soda and juices (drinks that can help you store more fat), and enables you to power through your workouts.
9. Don’t forget about rest
Taking rest is essential to help your muscles recover from a grueling session in the gym to rebuild bigger and stronger.
Try to get seven to nine hours of sleep because it is vital to function optimally, especially when working out. Getting enough sleep affects several hormones that play a role in fat loss, such as cortisol, ghrelin, and leptin. If you can get these hormones on your good side, they will accelerate fat loss even more.
10. Cardio to aid weight loss
Cardio is good for heart health, but it’s also good to build endurance. Also, a low-intensity cardio workout such as a 45-60 minute walk is good to help you recover because it allows you to burn calories and get more vitamin D, but it’s not taxing on your nervous system.
Toning workout routine for women
Ideally, you want a program that’s custom-made for your goals. However, if you’re a newbie, you’ll make good progress with any program as long as you watch your calorie intake.
As for ab workouts, if you want to do more, you can do additional five to 10 minutes of ab workouts after each session.
Session 5 – Cardio of choice/ Active recovery (45-60 minute walk)
Get your calories right to get toned
As we mentioned initially, lifting weight goes hand in hand with proper nutrition to achieve a toned female body.
Here’s a sample plan if you’re trying to lose weight.
The fat loss phase
The first thing you want to do is calculate your maintenance calories (Here’s the JackedVegans Calorie calculator to help you find out).
If you’re a 5-foot, 150 lb female, the calorie required to maintain weight is approximately 2200 calories. You want to aim for a fat loss of 1% of your body weight, around 1.5 lbs per week.
(One pound of body weight is equal to 3500 calories)
1.5 X 3500 = 5250 calories
5250 calories / 7 days = 750 calories below maintenance each day.
If you need 2200 calories to maintain weight, you have to eat 1450 calories each day if you’re aiming to lose 1% of body fat each week.
Since restricting your calorie intake is taxing on various body processes, we recommend raising the calorie intake by about 300-500 calories after ten weeks of calorie restriction.
Towards the end of the ten weeks, your motivation decreases, it gets harder to ignore the increased hunger, and more stress hormones are secreted; basically, your body is screaming for you to eat more.
You’ll listen to your body and take a break from dieting for approximately half of your time on a diet (5 weeks). After five weeks, you can go back to eating at a caloric deficit if you wish to lose more fat.
The muscle gain phase
Let’s go to the other end of the spectrum.
You’re a 6-foot female weighing 150 lbs, which could be a bit skinny depending on who you ask, and if you want to put on muscle to get the toned look, then your approach will be different.
Aim to put on 0.25% of your body weight per week. This allows you to build muscle while putting on as little fat as possible.
You need approximately 2200 calories to maintain weight if you’re 150 lbs, and the goal is to put on 0.25% of your body weight (0.38 lbs) per week.
(One pound of body weight is equal to 3500 calories)
0.38 X 3500 calories = 1330 calorie surplus
1330/ 7 days = 190 calorie surplus per day.
If you need 2200 calories a day to maintain your weight, you need to consume 2390 calories daily to put on weight. Do this for ten weeks, and just like in the fat loss phase, you need to give your body a break and drop your calorie consumption to a maintenance level because it could be difficult for you to eat so much for so long.
Stay on maintenance level for about five weeks, and repeat the process if you wish to gain more weight.
Get the toned body goals for females
Now that you know you won’t suddenly look like a bodybuilder if you start lifting weights, it’s time to go after the toned body women desire!
Take the first step by doing a physical activity you like.
Hire a personal trainer if that will make the process simpler for you.
Lift heavy weights.
Work hard and push yourself in the gym.
Mix up your workouts.
Consume the correct amount of calories to help you achieve your goal weight.
Don’t forget the small things that support fat loss and muscle gain, such as consuming enough protein, getting enough rest, walking as part of your cardio, and drinking enough water.
Follow these tips, and you’ll be in great shape, literally.