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You Don't Get Toned With Light Weight and High Reps. Here's Why.

Updated: Jan 21, 2022

Many people are under the impression that lifting light weights for high reps is going to get them looking 'toned'.


Many people want to look athletic and 'toned', but don't actually understand the measures that they should be taking to get there.


If you previously thought that lifting light weights for a higher number of reps each set was going to get you looking toned and and define, this post is for you.


Toned and athletic woman standing in a dark room with light shining towards her


First of All: What Does Getting 'Toned' Even Mean?


Many people think that getting toned is its own separate fitness goal, like building muscle and losing weight. Some people think that it's wildly different to the other fitness goals.


However, this is not the case.


Getting toned, by definition simply means to have good muscle definition. For most people, it means building a little bit of muscle and then losing enough fat to the point where their muscles start to look more defined and you can tell they work out.


That is what getting toned means. It's not some different fitness goal that requires a different approach in order to get there. It's essentially a combination of both building muscle and losing fat.


So How Do You Actually Get Toned?


Since getting toned is a combination of both building muscle and losing fat, all you have to do is take the necessary approaches to reaching both goals one at a time.


Like we said earlier, it's not a completely different fitness goal that requires completely different training and measures.


If you wanted to get 'toned', you would have to simply build some muscle first.


You can do this in the most optimal way by eating in a slight caloric surplus of around 200 calories, and lifting (contrary to popular belief), HEAVY weights in the 6-12 rep range.


Lifting light weights for high reps is not going to build as much muscle as lifting heavy would. And lifting light weights certainly isn't going to help you burn more fat either. That notion holds no water.


For those of you out there that still believe this, just because you lift heavy weights doesn't mean you're going to look bulky or look like a bodybuilder.


Building muscle is a very, very slow process. No matter how hard you train, it's a slow process, even for men. And especially if you're a female, your ability to put on muscle is naturally weaker. You won't gain size as easily, and you definitely won't look like a man by accident.


Instead, if you want to build any muscle at all, you need to be lifting heavy and you need to be training hard.


You see, the main driver of muscle growth is mechanical tension. This basically means the amount of weight that you're lifting and placing onto your muscles.


If you lift heavy and get stronger, you're going to be able to lift heavier over time and place more mechanical tension onto your muscles as a result of this. This is going to allow you to build more muscle.



Essentially, if you were able to increase the amount of weight that you lifted on a certain exercise in a rep range that's conducive to hypertrophy, you would build muscle. You need to be progressively overloading your muscles, and lifting heavy weights is going to be the quickest and easiest way to get there.



Lifting light weights is only going to increase your muscular endurance and increase the amount of time that you can exercise for. It won't do a whole lot for building strength or muscle.


So lift heavy and eat in a slight caloric surplus. This is going to allow you to build the most muscle without gaining too much fat (don't worry, you will burn this fat off later).


And continue to do this for as long as you need to until you feel that you've built enough muscle. Remember, getting toned is usually about building a little bit of muscle and then simply becoming lean enough to see some definition.


Depending on the amount of muscle that you want to have on your body, the time that it takes you to reach this level is going to vary and differ.


For example, are you trying to look like the person on the left or the person on the right? One of them clearly has more muscle mass, and depending on your goals, the time you'd take to get there would differ greatly.


Comparison between two toned women and the time it would take to get there

Once you've built enough muscle and are happy with the muscle mass on your body, the next step to looking toned is to lose your fat.


You have to lose fat if you want to have muscle definition.


To do this, you need to be eating in a caloric deficit. No ifs, no buts.


If you're not sure what a calorie is, it's basically the amount of energy that an item of food or drink carries. So when you eat a burger that contains 400 calories, you're eating 400 calories worth of energy. Your body will then use and burn that energy for everyday activity and movement.


The average person burns around 1800 calories each day, doing nothing. This will vary depending on your age, gender, weight and some other factors. However, we'll use 1800 as an example.


If this person wanted to lose weight, they would need to be eating less than 1800 calories each day to slowly lose fat. The opposite would apply if this person wanted to gain weight and muscle at an optimal rate. He or she would need to be eating more than 1800 calories each day. And if he or she ate roughly 1800 calories a day, bodyweight would not change.


Person eating healthy meal full of vegetables and meat

Hopefully that explains how weight loss and weight gain works for the general public. Unless you've got some kind of a disorder, or some other factor, your daily balance of calorie consumption and expenditure is going to dictate whether you gain or lose weight.


To back this, a study conducted by Barbara Strasser concluded that: "This study showed that independently of the method for weight loss, the negative energy balance alone is responsible for weight reduction."


To lose weight and burn fat, you're going to need to be watching what you eat.



You can either lose weight by eating below your maintenance level of calories, or eating AT your maintenance calories and doing some exercise to burn off those extra calories. Either way is fine and will get you the right results if done correctly. You can click here to read our article and learn more about cardio and fat loss.


Remember that as with anything in life that's worth having, building muscle and burning fat are both going to take a long time. You have to be patient and stick at it for long enough.


If you built enough muscle, and you lose enough fat over time, you would eventually reach a point where you look toned.


Wrapping It Up


Getting toned is not the completely different fitness goal that many think of it as.


It's simply a combination of building muscle and losing fat, and should be treated that way. To get toned, simply put, all you have to do is build some muscle and the burn some fat off your body. If you can do this, you'll look toned.


We hope you found this article helpful and were able to learn something from it! If you did, remember to share it with your friends so that we can reach more people.


And if you would like some help with building muscle or burning fat, check out our training programs or upgrade your account to Gympulsive Pro to get full access to everything on our site!

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