[The following read is an article I wrote for IlluminActive, which is a new fitness lifestyle brand/website that I co-started with two close friends]
Ladies (and some gentlemen), are you sitting down? This might come as a shock to you, but there is NO SUCH THING as "TONING"! Just as there's no such thing as the boogeyman or cellulite (more on that another time... the cellulite part). Toning is a word that was developed to describe the tightening of a flabby area; be it arms, thighs, butt, etc..The media, like with a lot of things, has blown up the word to the point where it's used in pseudo-science and as a marketing buzz word to sell gimmicky products. Now there's toning creams that you supposedly rub onto your fat parts and magically the area "tones" and tightens (Aye Yai Yai!). People aren't gullible because they're stupid, they're just uneducated. Enter -IlluminACTIVE...
From reading our previous debunk article, you now know a muscle can either grow bigger or become smaller, and overall body fat percentage can either increase or decrease. To become "toner"-or really- firmer, you need to decrease your percentage of body fat, thus starting to reveal the underlying muscle. Now, like a deep pro sports team organization, there are other players. If there's not much in the way of underlying muscle, onlookers might want to offer you a donut instead of ask HOW'D YOU DO IT!? That takes us back to a common paradox. You must now take in excess calories and weight train with the goal of gaining weight in the form of muscle mass. With this territory typically comes some body fat, with the exception of a few genetically gifted individuals whom we all hate. NOW, flash to next time you lean out, you're now lean with increased muscle definition (aka, toned).
Another player is the muscle's state of fullness/hardness, or in other words, how filled the muscle is with glycogen, sodium and water. It gets crazy scientific and far beyond the practical understanding for most, but the key is to remember that nutrition is HUGELY important with any physique transformation. Eating smart will most certainly help achieve that fake tone you were so desperately after a few minutes ago. Explain this to a co-worker tomorrow at lunch. They'll either be impressed with your competence on the subject or make a mental note to avoid you the next day. Use this to your tactical advantage... you're welcome.