I’ve been a personal trainer for over 8 years now. I’ve heard it all.

“I’m not eating anything but I’m still gaining weight”
“I swear I eat healthy on the weekend”
“If I don’t eat anything can I fill my calories with wine?” 😅

Above all though, probably the most common thing I’ve heard is from women who don’t want to get bulky.

“Yeah, I just want to tone up, I don’t want to get too bulky”.

I’ll clear this up for all women out there right now – you will never in a million years get too bulky!

It’s not like you magically wake up looking like John Cena one day in some Freaky Friday incident.

It takes years of dedication, commitment and most likely some anabolic steroids to look like what you’re scared of.

Hell, it even takes all the same dedication and commitment to look like the sexy celeb or model that you told me you want to look like. I guarantee they’re lifting weights; they’re lifting heavy and they’re lifting consistently.

John Cena

wwe.com

Not lifting weights in case you get “too big” or “too bulky” is like not driving a car in case you become a Formula 1 driver.

It’s not gonna happen so don’t worry about it!

No one accidentally builds muscle. And even if you do get to a point where you think you’re bigger than you like, you can just dial back your weights and you’ll lose a bit.

Muscle comes and goes. And it requires a certain level of work to achieve and maintain. If you stop lifting, you’ll lose some of it. So, it’s relatively easy to manage and tweak your physique to your liking once you’ve put in the work.

But you have to put in the work. And you have to do it correctly.

I wasn’t alive when it all kicked off, but apparently some genius sold the idea that women only need to lift tiny little pink and purple weights to ‘tone’ and sculpt their body.

They sold the idea the idea that women need to train differently than men.

It’s crap.

For the most part, women and men should be training pretty much the same. The only difference is what body parts you emphasise more. Even that comes down to the individual.

Nothing says a guy has to work on his chest and shoulders while a woman has to work on her butt. Work on areas that you want to develop.

I don’t care if you’re male, female or a freaking gorilla, if you want to look better and ‘tone’ up – you need to build muscle.

Every celeb that has the toned figure you’re after looks that way because they have a low amount of body fat and some muscle to create shape.

Pounding away on the treadmill might help to lower your body fat total, but you don’t actually look much better because now you have no shape. It’s why some people have that ‘skinny fat’ kinda look.

Pink Dumbbells

So, building muscle is key! Here’s how you do it.

– Lift heavy for 8-12 reps
– Do 2-5 sets per muscle group every session
– Rest for 1-3 minutes between your sets
– Try to lift more weight (with good form!)

If you’re doing 30 reps of a tiny dumbbell curl, you’re not going to get very far. You need appropriate weight to stimulate muscle growth. That circuit class with the tiny dumbbells isn’t gonna cut it.

If you’re doing a circuit with hundreds of reps of similar exercises, you’re not going to get very far. Burpees might be fun and help you to work up a sweat, but they’re not helping you build muscle and sculpt your body.

If you’re going from 1 exercise to another with no rest, you’re not going to get very far. You need rest to recover and to hit the same weight again. Sit down between sets and rest.

If you’re using the same weights over and over, you’re not going to get very far. You need to overload the muscles to keep getting a response from them. If you always use the same weight your body has no reason to adapt to it and change, so it won’t.

Now, this is not an exhaustive list of every muscle-building protocol. But it’s a damn good start.

Over your lifting journey you should move in and out of different rep ranges, rest a little more, rest a little less. Lift heavier for less reps. Lift lighter for more reps.

Your body adapts to different stimuli so if you’re always doing the same thing, you may get stuck. Above all else, you just need to be consistent.

Regardless of what celebrity or model you want to look like, I can guarantee they’re lifting weights and training this way the majority of the time.

No, you’re not going to look like The Rock.
No, you’re not going to turn into Arnold Schwarzenegger.

What you will do is develop the sexy, lean, confident body you’re been chasing for years on the treadmill. You’ve been chasing in the wrong direction though; it’s been in the weights room this whole time.

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