Want to get toned? Most women think that jamming to their favorite aerobics DVD is the key to eliminating their abdominal jiggle. Unfortunately, cardio alone isn’t enough to help you gain a toned, lean physique — in fact, it’s only effective for shedding more weight.
Here are some more toning mistakes that aren’t effective for getting lean:
Mistake #1: “Lifting heavy weights will make me bulky!”
Most women tell me they don’t lift weights, all because they’re afraid of bulking up. Unfortunately, bulking up is actually a result of having too much body fat, not muscle tone. To avoid looking bulky, women need to diet to shed away excess body fat. Avoid doing anything too drastic — a simple calorie reduction plan with the right balance of macronutrients is sufficient.
Myth #2: “Cardio will help tone my abs.”
Want abs? Then cool down on the cardio — it’s only effective for speeding up weight loss. To build up enough abdominal muscle, women need to strength training their abdominal muscles once or twice a week. This will help make the abdominal muscles bigger, making them visible once a woman’s body fat is low enough. To lower body fat, simply go on a simple, reasonable calorie reduction plan with the right balance of macronutrients.
Myth #3: “Doing a lot of repetitions is good for toning up.”
Like doing endless crunches every day? According to the International Sports Science Association (ISSA), more is not better — in fact, it could lead to overtraining.
Furthermore, women who do more than 15 repetitions per set are essentially engaging in endurance training, which does not put enough stress on the muscles to encourage tissue growth. To become toned, women need to reduce their body fat while increasing the size of their lean muscle tissue, which is achieved by engaging in a strength training program. Yes, this means it’s time to lift heavy weights and get a bit sweaty, but it’s good for the body — more muscle tissue also raises the body’s basal metabolic rate.
Myth #4: “If I only do ab exercises, I can target spot my stomach fat.”
Again, all the abdominal exercises in the world won’t tone the body if a woman’s body fat is too high. Sure, the abdominal muscles may grow slightly by doing endless abdominal exercises, but if it’s covered by a layer of fat, these muscles will not be visible.
It’s also impossible to spot tone — there’s no way to force the body to lose body fat or look firmer in any area. To get toned, sleek abs, women need to engage in a solid strength training program and a reasonable, calorie-controlled diet.
Overall, hard work, in the form of dieting and strength training, is the only way to achieve overall body tone. Unfortunately, no exercise or cardio program will magically whip the fat away — and that includes crunches!
More from this contributor:
Female Bodybuilding 101: What is Cutting and Bulking?
The 4 Best Habits that Supercharge Your Workout
The Dangers of Female Bodybuilding