How to Tone Up and Build Muscle in 6 Weeks

Putting a time frame on yourself when it comes to fitness can work in your favor. When you want to tone up and gain muscle in six weeks, you will have a sense of urgency to stay on track and accomplish this short-term goal.

Focus on compound movements to help build and tone muscles.
Credit: AzmanJaka/E+/GettyImages

Once you've made the decision to do it, the only thing left is your plan of attack. This is going to cause you to make some adjustments to your diet and do the right types of exercise.

Tips

Toning up and building muscle in 6 weeks is a very short time frame during which to change your body. Six weeks of sticking to a clean-eating plan and living with and learning from exercising every day however is a great start.

Make Some Adjustments

Eating the right foods at the right times is one half of the equation to toning up and building muscle. You need energy to exercise and nutrients to keep going.

1. No Empty Calories

Fill up on foods that are high in nutrients and low in empty calories. Eat whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, lean meats and low-fat dairy products. Avoid foods that are high in saturated fat, sugar and sodium like fast food, commercial baked goods, deep fried foods and candy bars.

2. Boost Your Metabolism

Eat as soon as you get up and continue to eat every two to three hours. This can boost your metabolism, keep your energy levels stable and keep a supply of nutrients going to your muscles. Combine protein and complex carbs with each meal to make them balanced. Whole grain cereal with low-fat milk and a scoop of protein powder is a breakfast example. Baked turkey loin with steamed Brussels sprouts and brown rice is an evening meal example.

3. Drink Plenty of Water

Increase your water intake and decrease your liquid calorie intake. Cut back on the soda, alcohol, flavored coffees, fruit drinks and sweetened teas. Not only can these beverages promote weight gain, but they can also dehydrate your muscles. Drink water instead, and aim for at least four to six cups a day according to Harvard Health.

Read more: Gym Routine for Weight Loss and Toning Up

Time to Exercise

Performing single-joint and multi-joint compound strength-training exercises and some form of cardio every day will help you tone up and build muscle over time.

1. Single- and Multi-Joint Exercises

Perform multi-joint exercises to recruit as much muscle fiber as possible. Multi-joint exercises use multiple muscles and joints at the same time. Perform exercises like chest presses, upright rows, deadlifts, triceps dips, reverse pull ups and squats. Aim for eight to 12 reps, do three to four sets and take two days off in between workouts. The American Council on Exercise also recommends single-joint exercise preferably to be performed after the multi-joint exercises. For example, after a multi-joint squat, do a leg extension to really zero in on your quads.

Read more: The 6 Rules of Gaining Muscle Mass

2. Cardio Every Day

Execute some form of cardio every day. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends 150 to 300 minutes of moderately-intense cardio activity a week or 75 to 150 minutes weekly of vigorous activity to really ramp up the calorie burn. Do anything that will keep you interested for six weeks, such as power walking, cross country skiing, water aerobics, elliptical training or running. Alternate between high and low intensity to increase your caloric expenditure even more.

3. Get Enough Sleep

Rest your body adequately to promote full recoveries and to keep your energy levels elevated during the day. Adults should get seven to nine hours of sleep a night, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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