“I want that toned look, but I don’t want to get bulky”

How many times have you said that or have heard another person say that?

A lot of females that come into the gym will initially have the “I want to lose weight and tone up” mentality. A lot of people who say this don’t really know what the toning up part means.

Let me clarify, toning up means; to give greater strength or firmness to the body. This can be achieved by increasing muscle mass and reducing body fat.

The idea of getting too bulky is a myth that is thankfully slowly dying but I am here to put the final nail in that coffin.

Female physiology is a complex area. There has been a large-scale shift in the female mentality to resistance (weight) training. This is fantastic to see.  However, there are still a lot of females out there pounding the treadmill for hours on end searching for that toned look. Not doing regular resistance training in the fear of becoming too muscly.

It simply does not happen that easily.

Testosterone is a large player when it comes to rate of muscle growth. Men have larger amounts than females.

Therefore, you shouldn’t think you are going to look like Kevin in the gym with his muscle top, protein shake and screaming while he lifts.

There are so many variables to consider.

Yes, certain females will have higher levels than normal, but this would still be a lot lower than your average male. Resistance training has nothing but benefits when it comes to your body composition goals.

We all have muscle; we all have different amounts of muscle in our bodies. To increase muscle growth, we need to activate what is called muscle protein synthesis (MPS). This helps us repair and build new muscle tissue.

We achieve this through training the muscle with a regular stimulus ie; Weight training. We also achieve MPS by ensuring we are eating adequate amounts of protein. I would recommend anything from 1.5 -2g per kg of bodyweight for a female doing regular resistance training. This is person dependant but aiming for that lower end will ensure adequate intake.

Muscle growth is a painstakingly slow process when doing it right. Best conditions are a slight calorie surplus, weight training multiple times per week with progressive overload (challenging the muscle to adapt to a stressor). Ensuring adequate amounts of protein are being hit. Your nutrition, sleep and stress are all controlled to aid in recovery and growth.

And even then, it will be a gradual and slow progress. However, when the above criteria are met then you are setting yourself up for muscle growth. This does not mean large arms, legs etc; It simply helps towards that “toned” look you are searching for.

Can you build muscle and lose fat at the same time?


However, this is very hard to achieve. When you are in a calorie surplus and hitting your protein targets, you are in what is called an anabolic state (Building up). When you are in a calorie deficit to lose fat, you are in a catabolic state (breaking down). Muscle growth can happen it is just better to focus on one over another a different time.

A lot of the time it is reducing the bodyfat that is covering the muscle that will have you feeling better and achieving that toned look. The best way to do this is your nutrition, creating a calorie deficit you can adhere too, hit your protein target and weight train regularly.

Those girls that you follow on Instagram and give you #bodygoals (insert eyes to heaven emoji here).

They are training insanely hard, nutrition is on point almost all of the time, they are showing you the best pictures that they have of themselves, they are filtering the s**t out of it and a some would even be using performance enhancing drugs.

Remember, Comparison is the thief of joy.

So, before you look at somebody and wish for their body. Look at your own and if you are happy with it, embrace that. If you want to change your shape, look at yourself as a Michelangelo not the turtle, the sculptor. Your project is you. Train regularly, eat well, only compare you this week to you last week or last month.

Don’t be afraid to train hard, you will not gain 10lbs of muscle and look bulky. If it was that easy we would all be huge!

In the words of Mr. Bodybuilder himself Arnold Schwarzenegger.

“People told me they never wanted to look like me. I told them don’t worry. You won’t”



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