Most Women Want to Tone Up
With the exception of a relatively small number of women who choose to take up bodybuilding, if you are among the majority of those who attend a gym, your goal is probably to shed a few kilos and firm up the lean muscle that is hidden beneath. Rather than exercising to enlarge your muscles, you are simply in search of a slimmer body which, in combination with the more well-defined, but natural musculature, will turn heads and do wonders for your self-image.
In effect, apart from piercings, tattoos, and cosmetic surgery, there are only four ways to change the appearance of your body. You can build muscle or lose it, and you can gain or lose fat. The twin objectives of toning exercises are to build a limited amount of extra muscle, while simultaneously shedding a sufficient quantity of superfluous fat to ensure that others can actually see that newly-formed muscle. The term “toned” simply amounts to muscle minus fat.
Now that we understand the two steps necessary to achieve that desirable well-toned look, it only remains to make a plan. Muscle growth is only achieved through a process of progressive overload. You select a suitable load to start and keep working with it to the point of exhaustion, gradually increasing the load and/or the number of repetitions until you are happy with the results. Both calories and protein will be needed to sustain this level of effort.
To lose fat, while retaining your new muscle and strength, you will need to continue exercising, but without increasing the load. Make sure to keep up your protein intake as well. When observing these requirements, you can safely drop your calorie intake to about 20% below your maintenance level. When you have finally achieved the look you want, you can reduce the frequency of exercise, but make sure that you get enough calories to meet your energy requirements.