Discover why strength training is key to building muscle and toning your body.
While tone is the layman’s term for building lean muscle (while still losing body fat) to show off a killer physique, participating in resistance training even at a minimum has a range of health benefits beyond what you see in the mirror.
“Resistance training has a host of other benefits, including improved blood glucose control, increased muscle and connective tissue strength, improved posture, improved mental health, reduced risk of certain chronic diseases and better sleep,” says Dr Jodi Richardson, accredited exercise physiologist.
Building muscle involves stressing the muscle and the nervous system to encourage that quad or glute to have a greater resting contraction and so leaner, stronger image against the skin.
“To maintain a healthy body composition, I strongly encourage women to engage in resistance exercise two to three sessions per week so that they not only maintain but increase their muscle mass, “ says Dr Richardson.
“Resistance exercise could be body weight exercise, lifting free weights or a combination of both.”
Because muscles are build into stronger versions of themselves during the recovery period, rather than during the workout itself, working all muscle groups once a week is enough to have you seeing changes while still allowing enough time for adequate recovery.
Hypertrophy or endurance-based weight training is usually signalled as the most efficient form of improving muscle tone, as it is easier to perform and more taxing on the cardiovascular system. The bare minimum for gains is again dependent on adjusting your loads so that your body is continuously challenged.
“The lifts should have good technique and you should feel the targeted muscle burn about halfway through the set. Protein intake is essential to muscle building as it’s the recovery source for the body,” says trainer and gym owner Scott Reynolds.
“To continue stressing the muscle and so building tone, increase the weight by about three to five per cent, every one to two weeks.”
Reynolds suggests four to six sets using weights that are 75 to 80 per cent of your one repetition maximum (1RM). Exercises should be a combination of compound and isolation styles, with six to eight repetitions and 60 to 90 seconds rest between sets.