How Do I Tone Muscle? (Without Bulking) | Reader Mailbag

how do i tone muscleWe’ve had a ton of questions pour in to our anonymous survey, and this is the first one I’m answering on the fitness front.

This is a common question – one I used to get all the time in the gym (especially from women).

It also grinds my gears – though it’s more a terminology issue than anything else.

Anonymous writes (links and emphasis mine):

I’ve seen your posts about gaining muscle really fast and eating a lot after workouts. That’s cool but the thing is I want to tone my muscle, not bulk up. What should I do for that?

I totally understand what Anonymous wants. He wants to look like the guy on the left, not the guy on the right.

how do i tone muscle

I remember the first time I saw Fight Club I thought Brad Pitt was in great shape, but his physique is really not impressive here.

That’s great. I can do that for you. But please don’t say “toning muscle” again. It means nothing at all. What you really mean is “tone” your body over all.


Muscle can be lots of things. Big, small, strong, weak, torn, fast-twitch, slow-twitch; on and on and on. Muscle can not be “toned.”

But that’s really just terminology I take issue with. I still understand what he’s really asking here. Anonymous doesn’t want to get any bigger, but he does want his muscles to be more visible. That means losing body fat.

How to Lose Body Fat (to Get That “Toned” Look)

  1. Eat Real Food
  2. Add Smart Exercise
  3. Try Fasting / Meal Timing

But Here’s the Catch

When men lose body fat, they start feeling SKINNY.

See you have body fat all over the place. Between your skin and muscle, around your organs – even between muscle cells. When you burn all that fat off, you’re bound to end up much thinner (duh, right?).

Well in my (vast) experience, these men now feel too skinny, and now they want to build muscle all the sudden. And this makes sense to work on from the start.

Because Anonymous doesn’t want to get smaller (well maybe in the belly). He wants to stay the same size, but look more muscle-y.

That means he has to lose body fat and gain muscle at the same time. At a surface level, he’ll take those three bullet points above and just be sure to add a strength focus to his HIIT training. That will be plenty to gain a few pounds of muscle over a few months, especially for a newbie.

Adding a strength focus could be as simple as one 5rep set of 5RM back squats or deadlifts before leaving the gym.

That way he’ll end up lean and muscular – toned as he calls it – but not get any smaller in the process.

FYI The Six-Week Guide to Six-Pack Abs falls in about the middle of the two options, meaning it will get you all lean and toned, and you’ll end up just a little bigger. And right now it’s over 50% off! How convenient.


About Kit Perkins

Kit Perkins is the Health and Fitness expert for MasculON. He’s spent years researching, practicing, training, and exploring diet and exercise for optimal health. He’s the founder of engrevo and GetManFit, and has ghostwritten for popular blogs in the sphere. He’s creative and well read, a forward thinker developing innovative ideas with an efficiency bent rarely seen in the fitness industry.
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