Happy Friday Arrow fam!
Coach Dev here with some Friday Brain Gainz for you! We're going to talk about what "getting toned" means AND how you can achieve this goal successfully!
"Toning" is just another word for building muscle. If your body is becoming more toned, or your muscles are showing more definition, it's because along the way of your fitness journey, you've began to build muscle mass! This is a good thing as increased muscle mass comes with a variety of benefits, including healthier bones, a higher basal metabolic rate, better blood sugar management, more energy and stamina, better joint health, increased self-confidence, and so much more. We WANT to build that muscle if our health is a priority.
However, too often I see individuals embark on a journey with the goal of toning and no plan to work from. They tend to grab random workouts from Pinterest or their favorite social media influencer's scroll through workout, constantly switching things up. They may participate in strenuous cardio one day, do some resistance training the next, and then a HIIT workout. I've found that these same individuals tend to exercise 7 days a week, allowing no time for rest or recovery. This quickly leads to burnout and an inability to stay consistent and adhere to the plan they have set for themselves.
Is there a better way? Sure is!
First things first, muscle building is a result of three things:
- Mechanical Tension: This is the force you place on a muscle when you contract it against resistance
- Muscle Damage: This refers to micro-tears in our muscle fibers caused by exercising. This damage triggers motor pathways that also activate muscle protein synthesis to occur.
- Metabolic Stress: This occurs during exercise in response to low energy and leads to metabolite accumulation. The more time a muscle is under tension, the more metabolic stress it endures.
Enter: Progressive Overload Training
To put it simply, Progressive Overload is the process of continuously making your muscles work harder than they're used to in order for them to adapt and grow. This will cause your muscles to improve in strength and endurance while growing in size.
Constantly doing jump squats or lunges, bodyweight only workouts, and an excessive amount of cardio is NOT progressive overload.
In action, Progressive Overload looks like...
- Increasing the weight you're using - Your central nervous system (CNS) will need to recruit more motor units to lift the weight
- Increasing the sets or reps - This will increase the volume of weight you're moving
- Increasing the time under tension - Slowing down your movements causes more muscle damage and leads to more progress
Here's an example of Progressive Overload in action:
- Week One: Barbell Squat - 95 lbs x 10 reps for 3 sets at 3 seconds/rep = 2,850 total pounds lifted
- Week Two: Barbell Squat - 100 lbs x 10 reps for 3 sets at 3 seconds/rep = 3,000 total pounds lifted
- Week Three: Barbell Squat - 100 lbs x 12 reps for 3 sets at 3 seconds/rep = 3,600 total pounds lifted
- Week Four: Barbell Squat - 105 lbs x 10 reps for 4 sets at 5 seconds/rep = 4,200 total pounds lifted and increased time under tension
When it comes to Progressive Overload, TIME is a very important factor. It takes our body time to adapt to any new stressor. The same goes for our muscles. If we increase our weights, reps, or sets too quickly, this can cause form and technique to suffer, increasing the risk of injury. You have to earn the right to lift heavier through consistency with your training.
And as always, the REST is just as important as the WORK. Unless you are a competitive bodybuilder, marathon runner, or other athletic competitor, it is rare that anyone NEEDS to work out 6-7 days/week to see results. Daily movement, like walking, hiking, playing outside with your kids, low impact yoga, etc. are wonderful and encouraged, but keep your strenuous lifting and exercise to an amount that you can adequately recover from.
Say it with me: sweat and soreness are not indicators of a successful workout.
If this blew your mind and you have no idea where to begin, Arrow's got you ;)
Arrow Strong is our done for you Progressive Overload program. It's four workouts per week, with both gym and home options available, in a progressive overload format where you repeat the days in consecutive order for four weeks, working to increase weight, reps, improve form, etc. to give your body the stimulus it needs to change. The best part is, it's only $17/month and you can join or cancel at ANY TIME. No commitment necessary.
If you're interested in joining, click here to get added to the waitlist. Arrow Strong opens to the public on March 1st!
Coach Dev Peña
Arrow Nutrition and Training, LLC