Just about everywhere I go, I meet women who want to know the trick for how to get a lean and toned body. The interesting thing is that I think most of us already understand the basic principles of eating right and exercising. I suspect that what’s really happening in their minds is that they feel overwhelmed by what they think getting fit requires, and they are hoping I can give them a fast and easy shortcut. The good news is… I can! But it’s not because I’m magic. It’s just not as difficult as they imagine.
The truth is that it doesn’t actually take hours of daily cardio and weight training, expensive gym memberships and personal trainers, or deprivation and starvation in order to positively change your body. It simply takes commitment and consistency.
Give me up to twenty minutes a day – less time than it takes to drive to a gym and back – and I can promise you will see
Ultimately, the journey to health and wellness is not a race. You don’t have to cover a lot of ground quickly, much less all at once. You simply need to keep moving forward. One step. Then another. Then another. It is infinitely better to take your time and end up where you want to go than it is to push yourself too hard and end up quitting on yourself. Achievable, incremental steps are absolutely the best way to build strength, confidence, and success over time.
I am a huge proponent of sweating smarter instead of harder. In fact, I love creating bite-sized burns that focus in on specific areas of the body. They allow you to tighten, tone, and sculpt your muscles for ten minutes or so and be done. Or you can stack them and squeeze in two different areas of the body in just twenty minutes. I even have full-body workouts that can be accomplished in twenty minutes or less. An effective exercise routine does not need to be time-consuming to be challenging and effective.
Not only does this surprise people, but I suspect some of them don’t actually believe me. But I know from experience that if they gave it a try, they’d be surprised at how intense a weightless workout can be in such a short amount of time. It is 100% possible to work up a sweat, feel the burn, and even reach muscle fatigue in just a matter of minutes. That time-consciousness is one of the things that I think makes my workout plans perfect for busy women who just want better toned muscles.
For most females, the goal is to get lean and toned, not to build massive muscles. That means light weights (2-3 lbs) are plenty, and no weights at all are just fine. In fact, with my workouts, they are always optional. Personally, I like a little extra tension sometimes. I’ve been known to use a bottle of water – or even a bottle of wine – for added resistance from time to time. With or without, the important thing is to practice good form, keep those reps up, and try to get through two or three sets to really feel that muscle fatigue setting in.
Pushing your muscles to temporary exhaustion is what lets them know they need to step it up with more strength and endurance to meet your needs. This allows you to sculpt those areas by tightening and lifting the muscles and reducing the fat that hides them. And since toning up isn’t the same thing as bulking up, there is no need to increase weights as you improve.
Another thing that is important to remember is that once you’ve really pushed a certain muscle group, whether it’s arms, abs, booty, or legs, those muscles need time to rest and recover. By alternating areas, you can exercise some muscle groups and workout others at the same time. For instance, you might squeeze in an upper body workout on Monday, focus on lower body on Tuesday, pair an ab and booty burn on Wednesday, etc. Another idea is to alternate full-body workout days with ab attacks and booty burns. This is also a great way to keep your workouts interesting. Just mix and match and try out different groupings until you figure out what works best for you.
I make time to move my body five or six days a week. Some days, I teach classes. Some days, I practice yoga. Some days, I take it outside for a full-body burn in the sunshine. And some days, I literally do a kitchen Barre workout while I’m making dinner. It’s become such an integral part of my life, that my day wouldn’t feel complete if I didn’t sweat a little. It gives me energy, boosts my mood, and supports my mental and physical health. That’s what I want for you, too.
If you are just starting out on your fitness journey, maybe you’ll want to start out with a bite-sized workout each weekday and a nice long walk on the weekend. You can always stack workouts or mix up your plans as you go along. But I find that taking a day of rest at the end of the week is good for my body and my spirit. It’s also a wonderful time to focus on gratitude for our strong, resilient, and beautiful bodies.
Often, we actually have more muscle tone than we think we do. It’s simply obscured by a natural layer of fat that lies between our skin and the muscle layer below. The good news is that boosting our muscle tone increases our metabolism, so we burn more calories – even when we are sitting still. As that fat layer reduces, our underlying muscle tone becomes more visible. That’s a pretty awesome side effect of truly functional fitness!
Once you understand the sweat smart philosophy for how to get lean and toned muscles, you realize that meaningful health and fitness doesn’t have to be an all-consuming undertaking. You just need to love yourself enough to know you deserve twenty minutes a day for YOU!