Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Dispelling 3 Myths Surrounding Toning Exercises

Toning exercises have long been promoted, mainly for women, as a way to bring out the definition of muscles without the worry of looking bulky and overly muscular.  Many women have wanted the look of the muscles, without the size.  Weight lifting routines have attempted to cater to this demographic, only to fail.  Why?  Because when it comes to toning exercises, there are some myths that exist that are concealing the truth! 

English: sketch of the muscles in the arm
Sketch of the muscles in the arm (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Myth #1:  Using heavier weights to work out will produce bigger, bulkier muscles.

* For women, this is generally not true.  It does hold true for men, however.  This is because men have more testosterone, the hormone responsible for muscle growth.

* Since women do not have large amounts of testosterone, they will not produce the large muscles that men sometimes do, unless they are taking a hormone supplement.

* In order to have toned muscles, you will have to work them out.  Using heavier weights will build muscle, but these gains will be limited by what your body will allow, so in most cases women don't need to worry about developing bulky muscles.

Myth #2: Doing more repetitions (reps) using less weight will produce toning and definition.

* If you flex a muscle, and it is still soft to the touch, it does not necessarily mean you lack toned muscles.  What is does mean is that the soft tissue is a layer of fat that is covering your muscles. 

* The only way to bring out definition and that toned look in your muscles is to shed that layer of fat on top of them.  You can have all the muscle you desire, but if a layer of fat is covering your muscles, you'll never really see them.  This is why you don't really see the individual muscles on competitors in a "Strongman Competition."  Having a layer of fat on their muscles is not a worry to them.  Instead, being strong is their main focus.  But no one would dare argue that they are not muscular. 

* There is one purpose to doing more reps with less weight, however.  If your goal is muscle endurance and not muscle growth, such as a long-distance runner, then you would follow this routine.  More reps with less weight promote endurance, not growth. 

The cross trainer can be used to warm up muscl...
Machines like the cross trainer can be used to warm up & exercise muscles in both the upper and lower body. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Myth #3: Cardiovascular training does not help to tone muscles. 
* If taken at its most basic level, this statement is true.  Generally, cardio training is not  related to toning exercises, although it may depend on the type of gym you go to, and what type of exercise you are doing. Some exercises, such as calisthenics, provide cardio exercise and also build strength at the same time. 

* If we follow the premise that in order for muscles to be seen, the layer of fat between the muscles and the skin must be shed, we can see the importance of cardio training. 

* Although weight training can shed calories and fat to a certain extent, only cardio training will give you the chance to work at a fat-burning zone for an extended period of time.  This is therefore the most effective way to burn fat - especially if you use the interval training method. 

So there you have it!  Three myths about toning exercises have been dispelled.  If toning your muscles is your goal, you do not need to decide between lighter or heavier weights.  Use weights that will challenge your muscles, and they will begin to show through as your cardiovascular training gives you the definition you seek. 

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