Three steps to toned muscles.

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If you’re a man, your fitness goal may be to bulk up. But it’s not just big muscles you desire. You want well-defined, sculpted, chiseled muscles that will get noticed. Women, on the other hand, don’t want to get bulky, but, like men, they want muscle that is firm and defined.

Maybe you wish your stomach, arms, legs, or entire body was toned. Whatever your trouble spot, the question remains: How do you get toned? Is there some secret form of weight lifting? More reps with less weight? Weight machines? A special diet or supplement?

Keep reading to learn how to get the body you desire. Spoiler: it’s not going to happen overnight, so get ready for some work.


Eat Right

You can’t have well-defined muscles if your muscles are hiding underneath a thick layer of fat. The fastest way to lose fat that’s covering your muscles is through what you eat. It’s a lot easier to cut 500 calories from your diet than it is to burn the same amount through exercise. Find a diet plan you can live with for the rest of your life. Fad diets may lead to immediate weight loss, but they’re unsustainable for the long run. As soon as you end a fad diet, the weight returns, sometimes with a few extra pounds.

The best first steps to uncovering your muscular undercarriage is to cut out unhealthy fats, simple carbs, foods high in sodium, and added sugars. Fill up on whole foods (minimally processed foods) from the major food groups: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, dairy, and healthy fats. Reduce your portion sizes and eat mindfully.


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Cardio to Blast Fat

Along with a healthy diet, you need cardio exercise to burn serious calories and shed pounds. Commit yourself to a workout routine that includes intense cardio sessions several days a week. Break a sweat, get your heart pumping, and move your body. Need tips? Talk with your trainer.

High-intensity interval training should be your go-to exercise. By alternating between high- and moderate-intensity exercise, you have the potential to burn the most calories in the least amount of time. Find a workout you enjoy and get serious about it. Jogging, rowing, swimming, and cycling are all great places to start.


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Build Muscle

When you lose weight, it’s common for some of the pounds you shed to be muscle mass. This is one reason why it’s important to include strength-training exercises in your weight-loss workout routine. While maintaining muscle mass, strength training is also the best way to build new muscle, increase muscle strength, and improve muscle definition. When the excess fat is finally lost, toned muscle will be revealed.

Plan to do strength-training exercises several times a week on non-consecutive days of the week, and take advantage of rest days, which give your muscles much-needed time to repair and rebuild. Just be sure to work with your trainer to develop a lifting routine that uses proper form. Lifting incorrectly can quickly lead to injury or a lack of results.

Focus your workouts on compound exercises that work multiple muscle groups and incorporate more than one joint at a time. This builds lean muscle and burns calories effectively and efficiently. Movements that only work one muscle are called isolation exercises and don’t do much good. Bench presses, deadlifts, lunges, squats, and military presses are examples of compound exercises that will get you toned, sculpted muscles in the least amount of time.


Two Months to Progress

Men typically see muscle growth faster than women because they have more growth hormone and testosterone, two hormones that contribute to building muscle. While everyone responds differently to strength training, you can expect to see results after about two months of consistent training.

Glenn Greer