Muscle Toning Fitness & Weight Loss Program

couple with muscular tone

Muscle toning is a form of exercise that forces a muscle to travel its full range of motion while under resistance. For example, performing a standing straight bar biceps curl is a form of muscle toning designed to target the biceps muscles.

In general, any type of movement that forces the muscle to contract while under resistance is a form or muscle toning. Performing a muscle toning exercise type workout will improve muscular strength, increase lean muscle mass and density and improve muscular endurance. In addition, regularly performing a muscle toning workout routine where all primary muscle groups are exercised will promote a firm and well-sculpted physique.

Muscle toning exercises should be a part of virtually all weight loss programs, as there are several health and fitness benefits that are primarily derived only from strength training. For instance, strength training increases an individual's basal metabolic rate. The basal metabolic rate of an individual is the total number of calories that their body burns in a 24-hour period. Knowing your personal basal metabolic rate is important for individuals that are looking to effectively lose weight.

In order to do so, you will need to consume a lesser number of calories than your body burns in a day. For example, if your body burns 2,500 calories per day and you consume 2,000 calories per day, you will create a caloric deficit of 500 calories per day. Over 7 days, your caloric deficit would be 3,500 calories. A deficit of 3,500 calories will eliminate 1 pound of excess body weight.

For a more detailed discussion on basal metabolic rate, please view our article Basal Metabolic Rate. To easily calculate your personal basal metabolic rate, use our Basal Metabolic Rate calculator under the tools section of our website.

Types of Movements

There are two types of movements that a muscle is able to perform: concentric contractions and eccentric contractions. The concentric contraction occurs when a movement forces the muscle to shorten in length, while an eccentric contraction of the muscle occurs when the muscle is extended.

For instance, when performing a standing straight bar biceps curl, the curling of the bar towards the chest is the concentric portion of the exercise, while the lowering of the bar back to the waist area (or starting position) is the eccentric portion of the exercise. Again, any movement that causes the muscle to contract is a concentric contraction of the muscle and any movement that causes the muscle to lengthen is a eccentric movement.

Any form of exercise that causes a muscle to contract and extend while under some form of resistance is considered a muscle toning exercise. This being said, there are several exercise types that are ideal for toning and sculpting the muscles including:

For example, riding a bike will force the quadriceps, hamstrings and calf muscles to contract and extend during the execution of pedaling. As such, biking is considered a muscle toning exercise activity. Another example would be either rowing a boat or exercising on a rowing machine. Performing a rowing exercise routine will cause the latissimus dorsi (muscle under the arm pit), trapezius, deltoids and biceps to contract and extend when rowing. For this reason, rowing is not only considered a cardiovascular exercise, but a muscle toning exercise as well.

For a balanced muscle toning exercise routine, you should include exercising all major and minor muscle groups. Exercise types that lend themselves to exercising all of the major and minor muscle groups include weight training and elastic band training. While there are other exercise types that work a large number of muscle groups, weight training and elastic band training provide specific exercises that are designed to target specific muscle groups.

Targeted Muscles

tone abdominals muscles

A thorough muscle toning exercise routine should include exercises that work all major and minor muscle groups. For this reason, you should spend some time defining your specific muscle toning exercise routine. Some individuals may prefer performing a couple of exercise types per muscle group and exercising their entire body in a single workout, while others may prefer exercising only two or three muscles groups per exercise session. In this case, the individual would typically perform 10 to 18 sets per muscle group. Exercise routines of this type are specifically designed to not only tone the muscles, but increase the lean mass of the muscle as well.

However, many of the cardiovascular type exercises will focus on a specific set of muscles. For instance, a running, jogging, biking, treadmill, elliptical and stair climber routine will focus on the muscles of the lower body. Each of the previously mentioned exercise types will also exercise the entire cardiovascular system.

Aerobic Effect

Depending on the type of muscle toning exercises that you perform, the aerobic effect will vary. An individual achieves an aerobic effect when they elevate their heart rate to their target heart rate level and maintain that level for a minimum of 20 consecutive minutes. For additional information related to achieving an aerobic effect, please visit the section of our website entitled Achieving an Aerobic Effect. To easily calculate your target heart rate, feel free to use our Target Heart Rate calculator.

Virtually any form of muscle toning will increase the heart rate. However, there will be a wide variation in the aerobic effect that is achieved across the various muscle toning exercise types. While weight training and elastic band training will strongly promote muscle tone and increases in lean muscle tissue, they will not provide the same aerobic effect as muscle toning exercises like running, biking and rowing.

Required Equipment

seated biceps dumbbell curls exercise

Depending on the exercise type chosen to perform your muscle toning exercise routine, equipment requirements will vary. For example, if you intend to weight train at home you will need to purchase weight training equipment. In addition, if you plan on performing any of the cardiovascular muscle toning exercise types like biking, rowing, or exercising on an elliptical at home, you will need to purchase the appropriate associated equipment.

Another approach is to become a member of a local fitness center. By dong so, you will have access to virtually any type of muscle toning equipment required to perform your exercise routine.

In general, you will also need to ensure that you have the appropriate clothing for the exercise type that you choose, and in all cases, you should have a water bottle to ensure that you remain properly hydrated. In addition, you will want to ensure that you have the necessary support equipment for the exercise type that you choose. For example, if you are weight training, you may want to consider purchasing a pair of weight training gloves and possibly a weight belt. Likewise, if running, you will want to ensure that you have a good pair of running shoes.


There are countless health and fitness benefits associated with muscle toning. Regularly performing a muscle toning exercise routine will raise your basal metabolic rate. What this means is that your body will burn more calories per day, promoting effective weight loss. Muscle toning will also promote strong bones and decrease the risk of osteoporosis. Improving muscular tone will increase endurance and strength, which will allow you to perform common daily activities with less effort. Muscle toning will also reduce the probability of lower back pain as the support muscles for the lower back will become stronger.

Additional benefits associated with regularly performing a muscle toning exercise routine include:

  • Reducing your resting heart rate

  • Decreasing your probability of contracting Type 2 diabetes

  • Lowering the probability of contracting several forms of cancer

  • Increasing the HDL (good) cholesterol levels in your blood

  • Increasing the strength of your entire immune system

  • Improving mood and mental stability

  • Improving posture, balance and coordination

The approach that you take to toning and strengthening your muscles is really up to you. There are several types of muscle toning exercises that will improve your muscular tone, increase lean muscle mass and improve your overall structural strength.

triceps rope pushdowns exercise

Body weight exercises, resistance bands, stability balls, kettlebells, free weights and circuit equipment are all examples of muscle toning exercise types that have been proven to be effective. All in all, muscle toning should be a part of all exercise routines. Toning and strengthening your muscular frame will promote good health, decreases in excess body weight and improvements in cardiovascular endurance.

Regularly toning your muscles you will not only firm your entire body but, create a leaner and well sculpted muscular appearance. In addition, regularly performing a muscle toning exercise routine will also reduce excess body weight at the same time.

It is our opinion at that all exercise programs should include some form of strength training as resistance based exercises play a large role in promoting safe and effective weight loss. In addition, regularly performing resistance type exercises promotes good overall health, fitness and mental well-being.