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Differences Between Building and Toning Muscle


Toning and building muscle are two of the most common goals of strength training. Each objective calls for a specific approach, so it's important to know their differences before you start working out. Toning defines your muscles to develop a lean physique while building muscle involves bulking up and filling out your physique. Here's a closer look at what it takes to achieve either, from diet to exercise regimen.

infographic on how to build or tone muscle

How to Build and Tone Muscle

Building and toning muscles require separate yet similar actions to achieve goals. Some actions may be counterproductive depending on your goals, so knowing the difference between building and toning muscles can help you follow regimens that will help you accomplish your goals.

Fundamental Ways to Build Muscle

When you choose to build muscle, your ultimate goal is to increase your overall muscle mass. Reaching this objective takes several steps, including:

  • Limiting cardiovascular exercises.
  • Consistently pushing your muscles to failure — the point at which you can't maintain perfect form.
  • Increasing the sets, reps, and weight of your weight training exercises as you get stronger.
  • Eating more calories than you need, including protein, healthy fats, and carbohydrates.

Gaining muscle can be challenging, but you can achieve your goals by eating the proper foods and dedicating yourself to weight training that enlarges your muscles, such as resistance training, which correlates with pushing yourself to exercise to failure. Resistance training involves adjusting the weight, sets, reps and range of motions while exercising to build muscle. It goes hand-in-hand with progressive overload, when you gradually increase the weight, reps and sets to challenge your muscles.

Through resistance training, your muscles break down and grow back bigger and stronger as they repair themselves. Major muscle groups people target include the chest, back, shoulders, arms, abdominals and legs. You can perform various exercises to focus on specific muscles or work several at once.

Popular resistance training exercises targeting major muscle groups include:

  • Deadlifts
  • Squats
  • Bent over rows
  • Pull-ups
  • Lunges
  • Bicep curls
  • Push-ups
  • Bench press

Many exercises are suitable for starting with your body weight. Once you surpass resisting your body weight, you can add weights or resistance bands to your routine. Support your muscle growth efforts by eating in a calorie surplus, with protein being one of the leading food groups you focus on increasing your intake of.

Keys to Muscle Toning

Strength training to tone your muscles is more similar to building muscle than you would think. You might even opt to switch between the two goals from time to time. When you want to tone your muscles, ensure you take actions like:

  • Doing regular weight lifting training with light to medium weights and high reps.
  • Prioritizing cardio to reduce body fat
  • Cutting back on strength training workouts when you become bulkier than you prefer.
  • Eating enough calories to enable toning but not enough to amass fat.

When toning your muscles, your ultimate goal is to build lean muscle and not gain excess fat. This process will increase your muscle definition and help you achieve a leaner physique. It's common for people to eat in a calorie deficit when they have goals for muscle toning because the deficit supports fat loss, and when it's paired with light resistance training, it helps you gain toned muscles and appearance.

Muscle toning involves more exercise variety, so you aren't bulking up too much. Light- to medium-weight training and cardio can help you maintain and tone your muscles without overgrowing them. Pilates, barre and yoga are popular methods for toning your body's muscles. Many exercises you can do for muscle building also work for muscle toning, such as:

  • Squats
  • Lunges
  • Chest presses
  • Deadlifts

With those exercises, using your body or light weights is best when your goal is toning. Some cardio-focused activities you could incorporate into your workout to help tone your muscles include:

  • Running
  • Elliptical
  • Jump roping
  • Kickboxing
  • Swimming
  • Dancing
  • Hiking

Obtaining toned muscles requires consistency, so follow common practices like working out four to five times a week with a mix of strength and cardio training and maintaining a healthy diet to see maximum results.

Benefits of Building and Toning Muscles

Whether you want to achieve your desired body appearance, boost your confidence and self-esteem, or practice healthy habits, building and toning muscles is a suitable way to accomplish your goals. Both offer several benefits besides the common ones of increasing strength and relieving stress.

Advantages of building muscles specifically include:

  • Increasing bone health and bone density
  • Lowering the risk of injury
  • Improving balance
  • Easing chronic disease symptoms

When you tone your muscles, you can enjoy these benefits:

  • Increasing flexibility and mobility
  • Improving energy levels
  • Enhancing endurance
  • Decrease the risk of diseases like heart disease or diabetes

 start training at Spooky Nook Sports in Manheim, PA


Start Training at Spooky Nook Sports

Whether you want to build or tone your muscles, finding the right strength training area is essential. Spooky Nook Sports has world-class facilities where you can access the tools you need to reach your goals. We offer everything from weightlifting areas for increasing your muscle mass to an indoor track for staying lean and toned through cardio.

Need help deciding which weight training exercises you should do? Our dedicated trainers will work with you to find the right sets and weights. Contact us today to learn more about our facilities and exercise programs!

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