Whenever I encounter a new client or talk to a friend regarding fitness goals I can’t help to notice that “toning” their muscles and body seems to be the default plan within the conversation. I can’t help to respond by saying that the definition of “tone” refers to the state of contraction of a muscle. All kidding aside, my sarcasm seems to hold scientific truth.

The primary objective for many gym goers is to address those trouble spots containing an excess of fat just under the skin. For men, it’s typically the waistline and women often target the thigh, glute and axillary (the junction where the chest meets the shoulder) areas.

People erroneously believe that performing high repetition exercises will lead to a reduction of the fat stored in that specific area. However, this strategy seems to have negligible impact on the fat stored there. Performing exercises involving high repetitions and low weight can lead to improved anaerobic strength endurance while having no effect on “toning” your body.

The reason is that stored fat can only be broken down, used for energy and eventually be reduced when a moderate negative energy balance is achieved through dietary manipulation and exercise over a period of weeks at a time. It’s a simple process of attrition though difficult to predict the exact timing and sequence of noticeable fat loss with regards to areas of the body.

That said, you can gain muscle mass and you can lose muscle mass, you can gain fat and lose fat, but you cannot “tone” a muscle to make it look pretty (ISSA).

Just be patient, accountable and let your body do its thing!