Some people not interested in developing large muscles or bulking up, but are looking to tone their muscles and appear fit. Gaining muscle tone takes an overall fitness program; one that consists of consistent cardiovascular and weight-training exercise. While strength training is what directly causes muscles to develop and become toned, it's necessary that you have a healthy body fat percentage to receive the full benefits. If you have too high of a body-fat percentage, your newly toned muscles won't show to their best advantage.
Engage in strength training at least twice a week. Complete a battery of exercises that work the entire body, consisting of the glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, back, chest, shoulders, biceps, triceps and core. Each exercise should be completed for two sets of 10 to 12 repetitions, though increasing your volume to three sets once you establish a strength base with yield better results. Choose weights that cause the final three repetitions in each set to be difficult to complete.
Participate in consistent cardiovascular exercise. Lowering your body-fat percentage to a healthy level facilitates the appearance of your muscle tone. Complete at least two hours of vigorous cardiovascular exercise per week. Add variety to what types of exercise you do, mixing in running, elliptical, biking, jumping rope and swimming. Try kettlebells, calisthenics or boot camps to challenge yourself.
Reduce calories and fat. Eating better facilitates a healthy body-fat percentage, which allows your muscle tone to show. Consume lean proteins, such as chicken, fish and non- or low-fat dairy products, as they help provide the nutrients necessary for your lean muscle to develop. Limit or eliminate your fatty and empty-calorie foods, such as fast food, sodas and sweets.