How to Tone Muscles Without Bulk

Many people, particularly women, are worried that if they start weight training they will bulk up and end up bigger than they are now. There is no real definition of toned in the fitness world, but it is commonly accepted that getting toned involves adding muscle to have some muscle definition and losing fat. Muscle is more compact than fat so following a workout routine to gain muscle along with a healthy diet to lose fat will result in a lean, muscular look without the bulk.

A woman is holding a dumbbell in her hands. (Image: Tatomm/iStock/Getty Images)

Step 1

Set a strength training schedule. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends at least two resistance training workouts per week on non-consecutive days using free weights, machines, resistance bands or body weight. Each workout should have eight to 10 exercises working each muscle group. Work in the eight- to 12-repetition range to build muscle.

Step 2

Set a cardio training schedule. The ACSM recommendation for cardio is 150 minutes of moderate level activity. Any activity that gets your heart rate into the target zone can be used so choose something you will enjoy and will stick with. Target heart rate is calculated as 60 to 80 percent of your maximum heart rate. Maximum heart rate is calculated as 220 minus your age.

Step 3

Eat a healthy diet. Follow the recommended dietary guidelines set forth by MyPlate. To lose fat total calories consumed must be less than total calories burned. Calculate the number of calories you should be eating as 500 fewer than what you burned to allow for muscle building while shedding fat.


Consult with your doctor before starting a fitness program.

Load Comments

Copyright © 2019 Leaf Group Ltd. Use of this web site constitutes acceptance of the LIVESTRONG.COM Terms of Use , Privacy Policy and Copyright Policy . The material appearing on LIVESTRONG.COM is for educational use only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. LIVESTRONG is a registered trademark of the LIVESTRONG Foundation. The LIVESTRONG Foundation and LIVESTRONG.COM do not endorse any of the products or services that are advertised on the web site. Moreover, we do not select every advertiser or advertisement that appears on the web site-many of the advertisements are served by third party advertising companies.