After almost three decades of being in the health/fitness/bodybuilding industry in one form or another, as trainer, membership salesperson, manager, or club owner, I have heard all the catchy industry terms that are used to sell supplements, diets, and all these new fad exercise plans, routines and programs to people. I have even been taught why the “deconditioned” population believe in these programs and will rush back year after year. These programs, as we’ll call them are only used to “SELL” fitness instead of teaching it. So when I think of all the misleading terms, this one never seems to go away and it’s like someone is scratching their fingers across a chalkboard when I hear it.
There’s no such thing as “toning and firming.” How can that be you ask? I will tell you. Your body has no idea -or specific mechanism-for “toning and firming.” You can gain or lose fat and you can gain or lose muscle. That’s it. Those are essentially your choices based on biological reality when trying to alter your body composition. Just because you work a muscle in one particular part of your body doesn’t mean the body fat surrounding that muscle will be affected. Workout only tears down muscle tissue, it does not tone, trim or firm a muscle it only tears it down. When you eat a more nutritious diet and get enough rest between your workouts you will see the results from what you did in the gym. You will lose some fat and gain some muscle and you will be more “toned” in appearance and “firm” to the touch, but the body does not know from toning and firming, and that’s the fact, Jack.
Your goal should be to lose fat (not just weight!) and gain or at least maintain muscle. Losing is a term used by losers. Gaining is a term used by winners. People who focus on weight loss only often end up only being a smaller version of their former selves, more flabby and with even higher body fat levels. They are neither “toned” in appearance or “firm” to the touch. Why? Because they made the mistake of focusing on the wrong goals of weight loss and “toning and firming” versus what actually matters: losing fat and gaining muscle. Toning and firming can only come from balancing your nutrition program with your activities, but if you do not know what your “BMR” (basal metabolic rate), body fat percentage and VO2 Max are, it is impossible to know that if what you are doing to get into shape is making it better, or worse. When you start losing weight the wrong way you will only be losing 10-15 pounds of fluid and muscle but then you will hit a plateau. When you stop your new fad exercise routine, you will gain 20% more weight than you had before you began. The sad truth is that next year you will be back out on the search for next year’s fad routine.
So before you jump into the new fitness fad or start thinking that you need to “tone and firm” please think about what you’re doing and if the person trying to help really has your best interest at heart. Part of why our country has an obesity epidemic is because the “deconditioned” population has no idea what to do or who to believe in. They want quick results and there’s always someone out there selling it. When you are beginning your fitness journey you must start out with the basics, use “progressive overload” and please don’t train like an athlete unless you are an athlete or your goal is to become a better athlete. Stay healthy my friends.