How Long Does Muscle Toning Take?

If you're working on getting a toned body, you're probably anxious to see results. Both men and women can tone and build their muscles by participating in weight training. How long it takes you to see improved muscle definition from your weight training depends on several factors.

Resistance training helps tone muscles. (Image: svetikd/E+/GettyImages)

Although the rate varies among individuals, it takes time to see muscle definition. Consult your doctor before beginning any new exercise regimen, particularly if you have been sedentary or have any health issues.

Tip

Muscle toning often requires weeks to months of consistent training.

Building Muscle Definition

To increase your muscle tone, you must participate in a weight-training program designed to increase the size of your muscle. Muscle building, or hypertrophy, occurs when you consistently complete high-volume weight-training sessions. According to Medical News Today, it can take several weeks to months of consistent exercise before you notice your muscles getting bigger.

How Muscle Is Built

As you lift weights, the University of California-San Diego explains, you increase the neural drive that stimulates muscular contraction. This increase in neural efficiency will cause increases in strength rather quickly.

As you continue to be consistent with your training, your body will adapt to the stimulus, activating genes that dictate the response of muscular contractile proteins. This increase in contractile proteins, which occurs in your muscle fibers, triggers improvement in muscle tone and increases in muscle size.

Hormones and Muscle Growth

Because men have higher levels of testosterone and growth hormone, which are instrumental in the muscle-growing process, they will typically see results significantly more quickly than women. These hormone levels, and thus how quickly the results of training show, vary among men.

Muscle growth also typically takes more time as a person ages. Individuals who train at a higher volume, completing more exercises and sets, will see results at a faster rate than those who only train twice per week.

Get Faster Results

Focus on training specific muscle groups individually to help build muscle more quickly. Although full-body movements burn calories, single-joint exercises, such as bicep curls or knee extensions, are more effective for building muscle, according to the American Council on Exercise (ACE).

You can speed your muscle-toning results by including higher volume in your muscle toning workouts. Split your muscle groups into separate workout sessions, which will give you the time to complete more exercises per muscle group.

For example, work only your chest and back on Mondays and Thursdays, focus on your legs and shoulders on Tuesdays and Fridays, and target your biceps and triceps on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Because you're only working out two muscle groups each session, you can complete four to six exercises for each.

Performing exercises more slowly will help you progress toward a toned body. The more time a muscle is contracting, the more it will recruit fibers to perform work. As a result, this higher time under tension translates into more muscle growth.

ACE recommends performing 10 repetitions of an exercise, spending two to three seconds on the shortening phase of the movement and four to six seconds on the lengthening phase of the movement. For example, while performing a bicep curl, take two to three seconds to bend your elbow up, then four to six seconds allowing your arm to straighten back out.

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