A couple weeks ago, I was doing a podcast with my husband for The Nutrition Shoppe– and I was asked the question, “What is YOUR definition of toned?”Immediately I developed a negative attitude. “UGH!!!! I HATE THAT WORD!” I despise the term- mainly because of all the misconceptions I constantly see about it. It can become very frustrating to constantly have to remind women that “getting toned” is essentially just “building muscle”- yet you tell a woman that they need to build muscle in order to get lean, and they look at you like you are a Five-headed unicorn juggling chainsaws.
The fact is-Because honestly, there has just been no clear definition of what “toned” really means. It’s a “safe” word filled with utter vagueness targeted towards women who can’t possible believe that lifting weights is anything we would want to do if we want guys’ attention. We are DELICATE FLOWERS, right?
Ask any woman on the street what they would like to accomplish in their fitness goals, and I guarantee you about 99% of them would respond, “I want to get toned!”And why wouldn’t they? “Toned” is what has been shoved down women’s throats from well, every women’s magazine ever.
But mention the word toned to a hardcore lifter, and you’ll most likely be met with an eye roll and extreme disdain. In fact, I asked people on my Twitter account @LIFTmeupFitness what THEIR definition of toned was, and these were some of the responses:
“Unscientific with no real meaning”
“Hate the word”
“When people use the word toned, I think they mean they want to get leaner and have more muscle definition.”
“The ability to look and actually be healthy or to tone the body to a top physical level.”
These answers clarify my point- there is definitely a negative connotation among fitness enthusaiasts, and even we don’t have a “clear” definition apart from vague terms.
When you read a women’s magazine with the words “GET TONED IN 1 WEEK!” on the cover- they usually are advertising pitifully mediocre workouts that don’t really accomplish much in the ways of muscle building and strength. Readers fail to realize that these zero weight/extremely light weight “workout plans” and crash diets won’t actually get them toned. But Heavy lifting will. Eating a balanced, high protein diet will. Staying consistent over the LONG TERM will.
It’s obvious people don’t even know what they’re saying when they say they want to get “toned!” I hear it all the time- “I don’t want to build muscles! I just want to get toned.” They’re basically contradicting themselves and don’t even realize it.It’s time to reclaim the word toned and get the word out there on what it really means.According to the Google dictionary the definition of “toned” is:
to give greater strength or firmness to (the body or a part of it).
Notice how strength is the first adjective? You’re not going to achieve this strength with a 2 lbs. dumbbell that weighs less than your purse.So I’m thinking- what if we, as a lifting community reclaimed the word “toned” instead of shunning and hating it? What if we could try to help change society’s definition of toned somehow? Maybe then maybe women wouldn’t be so fearful of picking up the heavy weights instead of fooling themselves into thinking they’re doing something that’s going to actually get them toned as they like.
If the women’s magazines reinforced “Get Toned by Lifting Heavy and Upping Your Protein!” instead of “Get Toned with our Sexy Bikini Blast Leg Lift Workout and Low Fat Diet!” then maybe women would realize what it actually means. >
So I challenge everyone- let’s reclaim the word “toned,” instead of just brushing it off. The truth is that getting toned will always be the one quality women want- no matter what the vague definition is. But very few sources are giving out truth. The popular women’s magazines surely aren’t. TV trainers sure aren’t. Many “famous” Instagram FitCelebrities aren’t.So it’s up to us! Ladies- it’s okay to want to get toned. As long as you understand what getting toned actually means. And that is, “building muscle.” Don’t be afraid of building muscle. It’s what you want. I promise.
And us “hardcore” fitness enthusiasts- don’t be afraid to actually use the word toned and re-define it for yourself and for your clients. Because we’re definitely stuck with for awhile- may as well make it useful!
I want to know- what has been your experience with the word “toned?” Has it been negative? Let me know!
I’ve literally linked your page directly to young ladies I work with.
As a large strong man, I get thrown the same question a lot, as if I’m a walking P.T. I tell them the truth but they don’t want it – it’s always about the 2lb dumbbell and salad for lunch. I hope this well written article coming from somebody else helps save me from the TONED curse.
Thanks for sharing! 🙂 Yes, it can definitely be frustrating, and I’m sure being a man it can be hard to get that message across. My hope is that as time goes on, this message becomes far more prevalent!