Resistance Training Myths Part 4: Muscle “Toning”

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Myths and Misconceptions: "Muscle Toning"

Written by Mitchell Robinson

This series focuses on a number of myths we often hear at Sycamore Health relating to physiotherapy and exercise. Our goal is not that you become discouraged from exercising, but rather that you train safely and effectively. 

Muscle toning is a commonly used term in the gym by both personal trainers and regular gym-goers. It refers to the belief that muscles can get ‘harder’ with resistance training, and/or that muscles can be ‘sculpted’ or ‘shaped’ with different exercises or set-rep schemes.

However, if by 'muscle tone' you mean 'muscular definition', then that is a product of:

  • fat thickness,
  • and muscle size.

Therefore, if your goal is muscle ‘toning’ (or increased muscle definition), then you should do what you can to:

  • lose fat,
  • and increase muscle.

In future posts, we will talk about what the evidence says regarding how to effectively achieve those two goals. But for now, consider the following:

Do muscles become harder with resistance training?

  • No. In fact, lots of passive tone (passive partial contractions in muscles) could be a sign of serious underlying neuropathology (dysfunction of the nervous system!).

Can muscles can be shaped with different exercises or set-rep schemes?

  • No. The truth is that the shape of your muscles is genetic – you can’t change their shape in the gym.

Do light weights and high repetitions improve muscle tone?

  • No. The truth is that this approach does not optimally stimulate muscle growth, nor is it the most effective way to lose body fat. It does not optimally achieve either of the muscle ‘toning’ goals stated above!

Can physiotherapists help with your health and fitness goals?

  • Absolutely!

Physiotherapists are specialists in exercise and would love to help you take control of your health. If you’re unsure how to maximise your fat loss or muscle gain, contact us. We can even address any underlying or lingering injuries or pain you may have.

Are you ready to break free of your pain?

Right now, you can book in for a FREE initial assessment. No hidden funnies, weird pyramid schemes, or quackery. Just a great chance for you to see how physiotherapy can help. In fact, we're so serious, we even offer half-price treatment should you chose to pursue your tailored therapy, right in the very same session. Press the button below to quickly make an online booking. It's no fuss and super-simple, we promise.

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