Muscle tone is the residual, partial contractions of our muscles to help maintain our posture or structure. Think of the cables on a bridge- they constantly have some tension and give to create support so that the bridge does not crumble, and the muscular system and the tone of our muscle works in a very similar way. When it comes to building muscle tone or creating increased tone for aesthetics, there are a few key points to think about.
First, resistance training will help build muscle and allow your body to use all the muscle you have by creating a better neuromuscular connection between your brain and the muscles being used. This will help increase muscle size and density, resulting in more visible tone.
Second, body fat covers up muscular gains and the definition you get from resistance training. Decreasing your body fat by eating a healthy, balanced diet, as well as incorporating a sustainable cardiovascular program to improve body composition, will allow for more visibility of muscle tissue. Think of it as wearing a big sweater- it’s much more difficult to see definition or tone with a big sweater on than a thin t-shirt. Let’s decrease the layers on top!
Third, the exercises you do can make a difference in the overall structure and look of your body. Start with large movements first like squats, deadlifts, push-ups, and rows, then move into single joint exercises like bicep curls and triceps extensions. I like to think of the larger movements as creating the overall shape and structure and the smaller movements creating the fine detail. Try working in repetitions of 8-15; pick a number that you can reach with good form but can’t do anymore after. This will ensure that you are working hard and recruiting as much muscle as possible.
Last but not least exercise frequency and consistency are very important. Increasing the frequency and consistency of resistance training will create more residual tone and tension, thereby creating more visible definition.
In summary, start hitting the weights, shed some pounds of body fat, choose the right exercises and workout frequency, and be consistent!
Jamie Osmak is a certified strength and conditioning specialist at the Tisch Performance Center. Jamie is a Level 1 Certified Golf Fitness Instructor through the Titleist Performance Institute, as well as a USA Track and Field Level 1 coach and corrective exercise specialist with a degree in Exercise Science from Rutgers University.