What women need to know for a toned body

Finally, after all that dieting and hard work in the gym, you’ve lost those few extra kilos that you’ve always been meaning to shed. And yet, you’re still not satisfied with the results you can see in the mirror. Your figure isn’t how you imagined it would look. Your skin looks drained, feels untoned, and the contours of your body lack definition.

So, what went wrong? And how can you rectify it? The fact is that after dieting and a training programme based solely on aerobic activity, your body loses its excess fat but unfortunately become less toned, a bit like a deflated balloon. So what’s the answer? You need to work on developing muscle definition with the right exercise selection. If you want a toned and defined body, there’s nothing else for it, you have to work on your muscles.

Aerobic exercise and strength training for your muscles must always form part of a programme aimed at building body tone and definition. This is because slimming doesn’t only mean that you lose weight. The needle on the scales that shows how much weight you’ve lost doesn’t just relate to fat loss, but also sometimes to the loss of water and protein mass, ultimately muscle mass. And this happens when a low-calorie diet is not combined with the correct training programme or when the programme only consists of long-duration, low-intensity aerobic exercise.

Slimming in the right way therefore reduces body fat whilst maintaining or increasing lean body mass

Contrary to what you might think, what you need to concentrate on is your lean body mass, rather than your body fat, as your metabolism is primarily linked to the latter. It’s your lean body mass that contributes most significantly to your calorie consumption, rather than body fat.

So, for a toned body you need to eat healthily, certainly do some aerobic activity, which has numerous positive effects on the cardiovascular system and your overall health, but don’t forget to do some strength training to work on your muscles.

So what should you do? You can train on alternate days, with aerobic activities on some days and strength training on others, or you can combine the two types of training in the same session.

Here are some simple guidelines for getting the best out of your toning sessions.

Concentrate on the right movements

Don’t focus on working on your small muscles (e.g. your triceps or adductors), but choose exercises that involve several muscles at the same time by performing basic movements such as:

- Pressing

- Pulling

- Squats

Go to the gym, and if you can’t, do the right exercises at home

Many people would not think of going to the gym, but science tells us that muscles develop better if they’re subjected to a certain load, for a certain amount of time, with certain exercises, and the gym is the ideal place in which to find the appropriate equipment and expertise.

But if it’s impossible for you to go to a fitness/wellness centre, don’t worry; you can also achieve the same results at home.

If being part of a group would help motivate you, try joining some classes offering a combination of high-intensity aerobic and strength training. The enthusiasm of a group will help you to work to an intensity that’s harder to maintain by yourself.