By far one of the most common things my clients want to achieve – and it’s usually my female clients and they all use the EXACT SAME WORDING – is to lose weight and tone up.
I always applaud people for wanting to improve themselves – that is why I am a coach after all.
But let’s break down this goal and look at it a bit more closely.
Pretty much every time someone says they want to lose weight and tone up, what they really mean is they want to DROP BODY FAT AND LOOK BETTER (in their own eyes).
The thing is that for most people, coming to see a trainer or a coach or trying to vocalise a goal like that can be daunting.
You might say it in your head and think it sounds vain or shallow and worry what the person you’re talking to might think.
Which is nonsense.
If that is your goal, be brave and bold about it. Shout it out!
Ok now that I got that little rant over, let’s break down both parts of this goal.
In this context, trying to lose weight pretty much without exception, will mean losing FAT.
Losing weight could mean losing lean tissue, or water weight as well as fat.
(Technically every single time you go to the bathroom you are losing weight – you will come out lighter than you went in.)
So we really want to make sure we are losing FAT because that is where both size and shape change come from.
To manage this you need to stop giving attention to your scale weight and focus on how your body measurements are changing.
So your waist, belly button, arms, thighs are my most commonly tracked ones. Across the chest can be more difficult to track for women due to the female anatomy.
…and tone up
Toning up is hard to explain. People seem to be under some illusion that working muscles for a high number of repetitions will somehow zap the fat away and allow some muscle tone to show.
I need to debunk this one.
First of all, you can’t spot reduce fat. For example you say “I want to get rid of my bingo wings”, do lots of arm exercises and expect the fat to disappear off that area and leave you with the tones arms you’re after.
Fat loss is determined genetically and hormonally – you CANNOT control what part of your body loses fat first.
All you can do is make sure you’re losing fat overall and sooner or later, the fat will go from the area you are targeting.
As for using weight training to create muscle tone, I want to elaborate on that a bit more too.
If you are eating in a calorie deficit (eating less than you burn), you will find it very very difficult (some would say it isn’t even possible in the first place) to gain muscle mass.
In other words, don’t worry about “bulking up” or anything like that.
I could go on about that for a while as well but for now all you really need to know is just that it WON’T HAPPEN.
So eating in a calorie deficit, you will burn fat.
Resistance training helps your body hold on to the lean tissue you have and make it more active. It will help you sculpt and shape the parts of your body you work on.
There is A LOT more to it than that, but I don’t want to get too advance or over-complicate things. In fact for the most part, this is the simplest explanation of this I could come up with.