Top 10 basics of toning up

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‘I want to lose weight and tone up’ 


This is the most common phrase that most personal trainers hear. Everyone wants to tone up and lose weight, but this isn't achieved by going on the treadmill every day. There are many different parts to toning up and losing weight. In this piece, we are going to give you the top 10 basics of toning up from personal trainers in Abu Dhabi, so you are no longer left scratching your head, wondering what to do. 



1. Weight training is for toning up 

If you have indulged in personal training in Abu Dhabi then you may be familiar with this already. What people tend to misunderstand about the phrase ‘toning up’, is that tone means muscle. If you want to look muscular, you need to build it by lifting weights, and no, you won’t turn into Arnie. Ideally, to achieve an even muscle tone throughout your body, you will be using training splits, which means training a different part of your body each day. A good weekly training split should look like this:


Monday – Hamstrings and Glutes 

Tuesday – Shoulders and Triceps

Wednesday – Quads and calves 

Thursday – Biceps and Chest 

Friday – Full body 


Your reps and sets should be within the hypertrophic range, which means 3-4 sets of 10-12 reps. This range is the ideal one for growing new muscle and toning up. If you have a body part, which is lagging, then ideally, you should train it twice a week. In regards to exercises and how many you should complete during a session, you should be aiming for around an hour and around seven exercises, to ensure each head of the muscle is hit correctly.



2. Cardio is necessary 

If you have had personal training sessions, you will know cardio is always included. Cardio is a huge part of toning up, but it's important to distinguish between what cardio is for, and what resistance training is for. One can’t work without the other; they must come as a pair when toning up. The cardio is used to shed body fat, alongside the weight training. This mixture of the two types of training is to ensure you can build and maintain the muscle, while removing that fat on top, giving you that ‘toned up’ look. 


During your toning-up phase, your cardio should be staggered. This means you start off gently, and over the weeks, you will up the cardio to keep the fat coming off. 


Your body plateaus when you give it the same thing day-in-day-out so, in other words, it gets used to what you are giving it and it realises it doesn’t need to let go of fat. Technically speaking, it knows it can hold onto the fuel. This is why you have to keep pushing it. An example of what a 12-week cardio regime for prep would be:


Week 1: 3 x 30 minute cardio

Week 2: 3 x 30 minute cardio

Week 3: 4 x 30 minutes cardio

Week 4: 4 x 30 minute cardio

Week 5: 4 x 45 minute cardio

Week 6: 4 x 45 minute cardio

Week 7: 5 x 45 minute cardio

Week 8: 5 x 45 minute cardio

Week 9: 5 x 50 minute cardio

Week 10: 5 x 50 minute cardio

Week 11: 5 x 60 minute cardio

Week 12: 5 x 60 minute cardio



3. Eating and dieting

The main component of a toning up is the eating. Your food plan needs to be based on your macronutrient ratios, so your body is getting exactly what it needs from fats, carbohydrates and proteins. You will need to be eating a calorie deficit in order to shed body fat. If you have enjoyed personal training in Abu Dhabi then you will be familiar with how personal trainers help construct a meal plan. 

As the weeks go on, your food will change, carbohydrates usually become timed around your workouts to optimise their usage, and nearer to show day, they become less and less. 

Your eating regime should be tweaked and changed as you get closer and closer to your goal to keep the body fat coming off. 



4. Essential Supplements

When you are toning up, it is important to supplement with a few essentials, as you are putting your body through pretty strict training regimes, so it’s imperative to make sure you are not lacking in anything. Essential supplements for your journey should include:

Vitamin C and multi vit – This will help to keep your immune system strong. 

BCAA’s/Amino acids – These will protect your muscles when you train and help with muscle soreness. 

Iron – Iron will stop you feeling lethargic and fatigued. 



5. You need to rest, too…

During your rest days, your broken, stretched and damaged muscle fibres need a chance to repair. Rest days are so important because, without them, you simply won't grow or repair (or tone up). If you trained constantly, then your muscle fibres would constantly be in a state of disarray, and would never have time to heal.


Before you start your week training, ensure you are clever about your rest days and schedule them in strategically so your body can really benefit. If you have beneficial rest days and well timed rest days your training and growth will both improve.



6. Ditch the booze

Alcohol is a huge NO-NO. First, is the fact that alcohol can cause your body to enter a catabolic state. Catabolic is a term used to describe the breakdown of proteins into their amino acid subunits. So, in a catabolic state, your body is actually breaking down protein rather than building it. What’s more is that alcohol has been shown to increase the stress hormone cortisol, which can reduce the levels of growth hormone by as much as 72 percent. Looking at the evidence, there really is little use to drinking, it will only inhibit your progress! So #sorrynotsorry 



7. Indulge in a cheat day

1 day a week either Saturday or Sunday you can have a cheat night where you can have a meal, and dessert of your choice, with limited alcohol of course. There are actually benefits to having a cheat day; a little bit of time away from your dieting regime. A cheat meal high in calories and carbohydrates can actually assist jump-starting your metabolism and regulating these hormones. This way, you encourage the body to keep burning these calories, instead of adjusting to the lower intake it’s been used too. Cheat day is also a fab way to reward your efforts and keep your motivation nice and high. 



8. Up your water intake 

There are so many benefits to staying well hydrated. Staying well-hydrated will allow your body to flush away the toxins and keep you energised. From an aesthetic point of view, drinking lots of water will also help hydrate and tighten your skin which will further enhance the toned look you are going for. Aim to drink at least two litres of water a day, and more when you sweat a lot. Avoid flavoured and alcoholic beverages (i know, we are really pushing the alcohol thing), as they will only cause your body to retain water.



9. Always try to progress

When it comes to getting toned up, you have to keep trying to progress in every way you can. Keep trying to lift heavier and progress your lifts. In order for improvement to occur, you must continue to push your body to adapt to increasing levels of weight, tension, endurance, reps, speed, etc. Push yourself harder with cardio, or try different methods such as HIIT training or TABATA. Vary your movements and workout elements mentioned, and always move with awareness and control. Your body will not change until you are determined to push it to change.



10. Consistency 

There is no shortcut to success. In order to achieve results, you have to repeat the same efforts day-in-day-out. It’s no good doing it for a few days, then wondering why you haven’t achieved what you wanted after a few months. Ensure you are tracking progress. Keep a gym diary of the weights you're lifting, and the cardio you are doing. Also, keep a track of your body weight and take progress photos so you have measurable progress. 


Hopefully you feel a little clearer now about what toning up and losing weight really consists of, and you are ready to go ahead and smash it!