What is BODY TONING?
Updated: Oct 8
Body toning packages get sold like hotcakes, and almost all these packages are exclusively sold to women. Is body toning different from bodybuilding? Or is it a marketing gimmick? Why is there a gender-specific angle to body toning resulting in only women buying body toning packages? Let's seek answers from science to uncover the science of BODY TONING.
The Gender-Specific angle of BODY TONING:
Have you ever been sold a gym membership by your gender? If you are a man, there is a high chance that the membership was marketed to you using the word bodybuilding. If you are a female, high probability, someone sold you the same package titled body toning. Scientifically, both mean the same: FAT LOSS and MUSCLE GAIN. That is how the same gym package is marketed using different gender-specific terminologies.
What is BODYBUILDING?
Everyone is continually building their body. It can be an animal, the trees around you, your child or yourself. For example, the body constantly forms and destroys the red blood corpuscles and the white blood corpuscles. Humans grow and sustain because they are building their bodies. Technically, bodybuilding never stops unless the organism is dead.
Women and BODY TONING:
A woman loses her tone in her youth due to a loss in muscle mass and increased fat stores. With the current-age lifestyle, many women in their prime youth are obese. If women workout, they will never develop as much muscle mass as men can, solely because they have far lesser levels of the muscle-building hormone testosterone compared to men.
Women have estrogen as their dominant hormone, which gives them feminine characteristics. Men have testosterone, which provides them with masculine features. When a woman builds up muscles that a typical female sex hormone balance allows, she looks compact, dense and defined. Feminine muscularity appears way different from male muscularity.
Muscles have a definition; fat does not.
Women are insisted on following a low intensity and a high repetition protocol, which is flawed and is not the way to tone up the body. The firm look and the tone will be evident when women lift poundages which are challenging for them, restricting to at the maximum of 6 repetitions at the advanced level. Of course, the tone would be evident only when supplemented by a proper micronutrient and macronutrient diet with enough rest and recovery periods. They will witness their body transform in a couple of months or lesser, and it will get better and better results with time. Women should workout as heavy as possible. If a woman does not workout heavily, she is only restricting the potential of toning her body.
Bodybuilding is the same as body toning.
Difference between MUSCLE and FAT:
Muscle has a shape, a tone and is firm.
Fat (adipose tissue) does not have a shape, tone and is not firm. Therefore, fat will jiggle and wobble.
If we want a toned body, we need to have more muscle and less fat. It means we need to build more muscle (hypertrophy) and remove the unwanted fat (adipose tissue) from our bodies. To achieve this, we have to work hard, eat right at the correct time and have enough rest and recovery.
Here's a blog to understand more about The Difference between Muscle and Fat.
Impact on EMOTIONAL FITNESS:
Women carry more fat on their bodies than men do. That is how nature has made them. When a woman begins to shed the extra fat and build more muscle, the beautiful curves are hidden under layers of fat become prominently visible. She starts realising how sexy her body is. Her clothes which appeared too tight, now fit her perfectly. She can proudly display her curves without being worried. She begins to fit into clothes that she secretly aspired to wear. As a result, she is more confident and feels lighter, not only physically but also emotionally. There is a lot of positivity and confidence around her. Her bone and muscle health improves significantly, acting as insurance for age-related degeneration.
The goal is to get better and stronger, focusing on all the five components of fitness. In return, it promises us so much, a lean-toned body, confidence, beauty, aesthetic appeal, health benefits, strength and so on.
The STEROID Angle:
Competitive women bodybuilders appear manly not because they workout heavily but because they are on anabolic-androgenic steroids. Many female and male bodybuilders choose to not workout heavy as bodybuilding is not a strength sport.
Strength is purely optional for a bodybuilder (whether male or female).
Anabolic-androgenic steroids are structurally related to the cyclic steroid ring system and have similar effects as testosterone in the body. A side effect of this is the women who are on these drugs appear manly. Whether male or female, athletes can do whatever it takes to win, including using steroids.
By default, all athletes train hard, are on a strict diet and seek the help of performance-enhancing pharmaceutical aids or Steroids.
The MARKETING Angle:
Women like pink, green, blue coloured dumbbells rather than the conventional iron made equipment. The reason being, it feels feminine to use coloured dumbbells.
Imagine a body toning club for women with coloured dumbbells weighing no more than 10 pounds and a bodybuilding club for women with conventional iron made dumbbells up to 200 pounds. 99.99% of women would go for the body toning club solely on the perception that bodybuilding is for men to develop huge muscles and body toning is for women to only tone their bodies. That is why we see health clubs and gyms advertising separately for bodybuilding, body toning, fat loss, muscle gain, etc. All mean the same - building muscle and reducing fat.
If this is the fact, then why advertise differently? The answer lies in the perception of the target group. Gyms want to target the men who are associating themselves with bodybuilding and the women who are associating themselves with body toning, giving them the same exercises under different labels. Like in a toothpaste advertisement, unless people see a doctor advising on using a particular brand, most people would not trust the brand or use it.
Busting MYTHS of Weight Training for Women:
Myth 1: Women should follow a gender-specific workout plan which is vastly different from a workout plan for men: No! No workout is gender-specific. There is no evidence of exercises being more beneficial to women than to men and vice versa.
Myth 2: Women should not build muscles and focus only on body toning: Body toning is the same as bodybuilding. Muscles can only hypertrophy (grow) and atrophy (shrink). The shape of our muscles is decided by nature. We can only increase their size and burn fat for a better definition.
Myth 3: If a woman lifts weights, she will develop huge muscles (like men): No! Even if a woman wants to build as much muscle as a man, she can not. Because of lower testosterone levels and higher estrogen levels, it is difficult and highly improbable for women to build massive muscles unless on anabolic-androgenic steroids. Even for a female genetic freak, it would be impossible to match the musculature of an ordinary male.
Myth 4: Women should only do cardio and not weight train as a woman's body is different: Why would women focus on only one fitness component? Why not focus on all five pillars of fitness? Concentrating just on cardio will only uptake cardiovascular endurance and, at most muscular endurance. What about musculoskeletal strength and flexibility? Excess cardio may even lead to muscle loss.
Bodybuilding and body toning is the same but is marketed differently because of the target market perception.
Women and men should follow the same workout regime depending on their experience and fitness level.
Muscle has a shape and tone. Fat does not have a shape or tone.
Muscle is metabolically active tissue. Fat is metabolically inactive tissue.
Just like men, women should also focus on all five components of fitness.
Lifting heavy weights will never make women even remotely resemble men.
Achieving higher levels of fitness is a goal in itself. As we get fitter, the goals keep getting more challenging. By avoiding heavy weight training, women are missing the fabulous body of their dreams, not to mention the tremendous health benefits. It is never too late to embark on the journey of achieving the body of our dreams.
We hope the article helped to understand that there is no difference between bodybuilding and body toning and that it's just another marketing gimmick to sell gym memberships.