Fitness Vocabulary Lesson 101

“I want to be toned, but not build muscle”.

What do you mean exactly when you say that, because technically what you’re saying is kind of paradoxical.

Please give me 5 minutes of your time and let me help you change your vocabulary when it comes the words “toned” and “defined”.

Of COURSE I understand what you mean, BUT what most people don’t get is how psychologically someone’s body begins to look “toned” or “sculpted” or “defined”.  If those are the things you want, and in my experience, I find that’s exactly what many people are looking for, then GAINING muscle is EXACTLY what you want in order to achieve a “toned” appearance.

When you perform strength training we cause tiny micro-tears in your muscles. Through the right nutrition and rest, those micro-tears heal and our muscles grow. So, if you’re looking to have “toned” arms or “definition” in your abs, what you are looking to do is grow these muscles and also shed the layer of fat that’s covering these muscles.

Now, here’s where people go wrong in trying to achieve this:

1) Many women are still afraid of lifting heavy weights because they think they will look like a male bodybuilder. Well, I can talk about this for hours, but let me tell you that that’s not going to happen to you by accident. Stop being afraid of heavy weights!

Women do not have enough muscle building testosterone in order to create a big and bulky appearance. Any women who is purposefully trying to achieve this look actually will have a very difficult time in doing so without the help of anabolic steroids. So where many women go wrong when trying to achieve a “toned” appearance is that they never lift a weight that’s heavy enough in order to cause a proper stress response to their muscles. Your muscles need to reach failure in order to grow and create “tone”. “failure” meaning – you cannot do one more rep of any given exercise. So while you’re certainly burn calories while lifting those 2 pound weights , it would be hard to achieve that “toned” look you’re going for unless you are always working until your muscles reach “failure”.  With 2 pound weights it isn’t impossible, but it can be inefficient and could take you double the amount of time at your workout session. Seriously, who has time for 2 hour workout sessions? I sure don’t. Michelle Obama arms without building muscle? Nope, sorry girlfriend! You gotta lift heavy!

2) You will never see the “tone” or “definition” in your abs or arms or anywhere if there is still a thick layer of body fat covering your hard earned muscles.  In order to see your muscles that you have made you must lower your overall level of body fat% from your entire body. You cannot reduce fat in one single place of the body or another by just working on exercises for that area – if anything you may just end up making the muscle bigger and you’ll think that weights are making you “bulky”. Lean muscle is what we want ladies, but a poor diet is just going to cover your results up. Nutrition is where it’s at in order to see them


3) For more reasons than just aesthetics, we need to be lifting weights as women. Osteoporosis is very real and women need to be doing weight bearing activities.

4) Many people have heard of guys or women who are on a “bulk/shred” cycle. Over the winter months they eat a lot in order to gain muscle and in the new years they diet and do more cardio in order to “shred” their body fat that they gained while on their “bulk”. Now, people do this because it’s been said that losing muscle and gaining fat at the same time is impossible. Well, it’s not impossible but it’s hard  is hard to do so at the same rate. Meaning to try and gain 5 pounds of muscle while simultaneously losing 5 pound fat isn’t really realistic.  There are many studies that have been conducted to show that you can do both at the same time, but it’s our gains that usually take more time. This is also very relative to each individual, some people can muscle a lot easier than others. So without going over your head with too much science talk – just know that you don’t have to go on any special shred or bulk type of cycles in order to lose fat and gain muscle. Many people have success with doing both things while using my programs. It really is diet that will impact this the most so as long as you’re eating enough protein you should be fine.

If I’ve held your attention for this long, I’d love to steal you for 4 more minutes!!

Check out this video to help educate you in just 4 minutes on how our muscles grow. It’s short and sweet and I think you should take those 4 minutes of your life to have a basic understanding of what it is you are doing at the gym. Knowledge is power my friend! Never stop learning …


love micaela


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