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6 Methods of Toning for Lasting Results

Forget the quick-fixes—this is the real deal!

Written by Dominic Barsi

Many who exercise want the same thing: to look toned. This happens when one's body fat percentage is low enough to reveal the shape and definition of muscles. Structure your workouts around these 6 steps, and you'll get there!

1. Resistance Training

Use varied resistance exercises to properly train all major muscle groups: legs, chest, back, shoulders, arms and core. Varying workouts between lighter weight with higher repetitions (30-50 reps) and heavier weight with lower repetitions (10-15 reps) works both major types of muscle fibers, resulting in complete muscle development and tone. I recommend 3-5 sessions per week depending on one's workout intensity and fitness level.

2. Fat Burning Cardio

Muscles utilize varying fuel mixtures of carbohydrates and fats to contract and accomplish work. Depending on exercise intensity (determined by heart rate), one can maximize fat metabolism. Exercising at 60-70% of maximum heart rate (MHR) uses up to 85 fats/15 carbohydrates. Exercising above 70% MHR uses roughly a 50/50 mixture. Resisting the urge to go harder in order to "feel the cardio burn" will tone your body sooner than going hard.

3. Duration

Walking two miles takes longer than running them, but for fat metabolism and toning, walking is most efficient. Looking toned is the absence of subcutaneous fat. Fat is energy. Burn the fat, develop the muscle, and voila -you're toned! Energy metabolism occurs at the cellular level, so persistence and consistency are key. The more minutes you rack-up between 60% and 70% MHR, the more fat energy you burn. I recommend at least 45-60 minutes of cardio per day.

4. Frequency

People often ask, "How often should I workout?" In regards to toning, the answer is "As many days as you eat" -leaving one day's rest, of course. The risk of "overdoing it" is low because the intensities are low, therefore the body doesn't require the recovery that more intense workouts necessitate.

5. Diet

Only fuel (eat) for the next 2-3 hours of activity. Wait between eating if you aren't going to burn calories within a few hours. Keep fat intake to 30% or less. Find a basal metabolic rate calculator online and determine what your needs for calories, and protein, carbohydrate and fat balance. Be disciplined but realistic. Avoid empty calorie sources like alcohol and processed snacks. If you do indulge, be willing to spend the extra time to burn it off. 1 pound = 3500 calories.

6. Mind set

As you think, so you are. Thought habits live below behavior habits. Determining personal goals is always the first step in achievement. Making realistic goals allows you to achieve them. Words create reality. Think, speak, and behave in the direction of your goals - whatever they may be!

Article Reviewed: June 8, 2013
Copyright © 2014 Healthy Magazine

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