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Toning is a bad word and only bad people use it. (Director's Cut)


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And by that I mean - whenever someone is trying to sell you a workout that uses the words "toned instead of bulky", you can be certain that the workout is nonsense, and all the information related to it is from Marketing classes with no input whatsoever from actual fitness or exercise physiology.

(edited to add this less ranty discussion of the topic in Muscle "tone" discussion, continued from the FAQ that no-one seems to read.) Muscle tone actually has a definition, and it's not the one you see on the covers of the magazines promising you "Five Easy Toning moves to get you ready for bikini season" and other marketing lies.

 In an ass-backward and roundabout way, the marketing departments of the worlds' use of the word "tone" has some vague truth value, but they've constructed a whole passel of lies around it to the point where correct use of the words "muscle tone" (almost) never actually happens.

 There's two kinds of tone. Neurogenic tone which is to do with how your nervous system keeps your muscle fibres partially contracted at rest to be ready to react to external events. And myogenic tone which is to do with the size and density of the muscle fibres themselves. 

  Hypotonia happens when your nerves can't innervate your muscle so you lose neural tone, which means your muscles start looking flabby because they no longer contract.

 Neurogenic tone is improved by improving neural efficiency, which is done through explosive lifting like Olympic weight lifting or general strength training in the 1-5 rep range (95-90%+ of your 1RM). Myogenic tone is improved by training the muscle fibres themselves to increase their size and density, which is generally done with slightly lower intensity and higher volume - 6-8 or 8-12 reps. (6-8 has both neural and myogenic components, 8-12 is mostly myogenic) but the minimum essential strain to elicit a training response for myogenic tone is 70% of your 1RM.

 The other way people use "tone" is more about losing body fat so you can see the muscles you already have; but if you don't train your neurogenic and myogenic tone you're setting yourself up for disappointment. In a calorie deficit, you lose both kinds of tone unless you do strength training to preserve your muscle mass and neural efficiency.

 So to "Tone" in the marketing sense is to lose body fat and preserve muscle mass in the process.

 So in a roundabout way, the marketing use of the word tone has some vague basis in reality, but it's used to imply that you can achieve the intended results through training methods that can't possibly work because you aren't using resistance training that crosses the minimum essential strain threshold that elicits a training response in line with your goals.

 Or in other words - it's a most effective marketing lie built around a kernel of truth, which is why the bastards who're out there selling their "toning workouts" have completely stripped the word of the original meaning and replaced it with their own definition that allows them to sell workouts that use only paper weights and ineffective yoga/dance-style training because that stuff's cheap to ship, while equipment that would actually work is too heavy for the profit margins Gaiam, Guthy-Renker and the product divisions at Rodale Publishing want.

(For those of you who wonder - originally only the first paragraph appeared, and in retrospect that was probably a bit of a mistake. )

Edited Mar 06 2012 20:31 by melkor
Reason: Unstickied - by now I hope enough people's seen my rant that it doesn't need to be in everyone's face all the time ;)
74 Replies (last)
Original Post by karleelovessixshooter:

I think your all full


Well, I did have a pretty big breakfast this morning.

Original Post by bierorama:

Original Post by karleelovessixshooter:

I think your all full


Well, I did have a pretty big breakfast this morning.

I'm actually kinda hungry. Trying to decide what to have for lunch.

Original Post by karleelovessixshooter:

I think your all full


The correct word usage is "you're" as in you are, not your which denotes possession.

Must say I've enjoyed the entire string-- learned something too-- ferrets, indeed!

However, I'm trying to find a way to add to the calorie out activities list-- want it done, not do it..... ( just to be clear)--

Any instructions on where/who/how to contact??

Again, enjoyed the string!

Thanks.....

You are right. There is a huge market for supplements and workout routines or equipment.  I view 'toned' as a level of muscularity.  I agree it can only be obtained through strength training: resistance, static holds etc.  No aerobics.

And what I like best about this post is that since melkor is the moderator, he can say anything he wants and get away with it! ;-)

This is good to know about "toning," because when I initially lost my weight by doing cardio (spinnning) and walking but no strength-training, I was complimenting myself on how "toned" I looked.  Now, I realize that I was only misleading myself. I will never be "toned" or fit or buff, but at least I lost some weight. 

 

 

Never too late Shane... check out Long Live The King – “King” Joe Amendolar at Jim Steel's blog.

Interesting link.  Thanks!

I suppose we all have certain body types we think look great.

In men, I like the Matthew McConaughey look over the Arnold "Conan" Schwarzenegger look.

In women, I like the full-figured Kate Upton or Jessica Alba look over the ultra-thin Kiera Knightly or Kate Moss look.

So, for some reason, I like healthy-looking, fuller-figured women, but leaner, toned-looking men.

But if I could select one look I most would like to have, it would be the look I would have after finding a briefcase full of a few thousand $100 bills.

Original Post by shane_paladin:

This is good to know about "toning," because when I initially lost my weight by doing cardio (spinnning) and walking but no strength-training, I was complimenting myself on how "toned" I looked.  Now, I realize that I was only misleading myself. I will never be "toned" or fit or buff, but at least I lost some weight. 

 

 

You probably do look way better because the fat is off the muscles more and the muscles show more.  You can get even more chiseled with strength training, though.  Good luck.

Original Post by shane_paladin:

Interesting link.  Thanks!

I suppose we all have certain body types we think look great.

In men, I like the Matthew McConaughey look over the Arnold "Conan" Schwarzenegger look.

In women, I like the full-figured Kate Upton or Jessica Alba look over the ultra-thin Kiera Knightly or Kate Moss look.

So, for some reason, I like healthy-looking, fuller-figured women, but leaner, toned-looking men.

But if I could select one look I most would like to have, it would be the look I would have after finding a briefcase full of a few thousand $100 bills.

Haha!!!

Original Post by tboonpickenz:

Original Post by shane_paladin:

This is good to know about "toning," because when I initially lost my weight by doing cardio (spinnning) and walking but no strength-training, I was complimenting myself on how "toned" I looked.  Now, I realize that I was only misleading myself. I will never be "toned" or fit or buff, but at least I lost some weight. 

 

 

You probably do look way better because the fat is off the muscles more and the muscles show more.  You can get even more chiseled with strength training, though.  Good luck.

Ha. You missed the satire in his post. That purple dude with the horns in the avatar is actually shane_paladin. If you had been around longer, you'd have seen his old gallery pics that included his killer calves etc. As well as being one of the healthiest, he is one of the fittest looking guys on CC, IMO.

Original Post by oldguysrule:

Original Post by tboonpickenz:

Original Post by shane_paladin:

This is good to know about "toning," because when I initially lost my weight by doing cardio (spinnning) and walking but no strength-training, I was complimenting myself on how "toned" I looked.  Now, I realize that I was only misleading myself. I will never be "toned" or fit or buff, but at least I lost some weight. 

 

 

You probably do look way better because the fat is off the muscles more and the muscles show more.  You can get even more chiseled with strength training, though.  Good luck.

Ha. You missed the satire in his post. That purple dude with the horns in the avatar is actually shane_paladin. If you had been around longer, you'd have seen his old gallery pics that included his killer calves etc. As well as being one of the healthiest, he is one of the fittest looking guys on CC, IMO.

I agree OGR, (but then I think Clint Eastwood is still hot) let's not let Shane's head get too bloated, though. 

Original Post by shane_paladin:

This is good to know about "toning," because when I initially lost my weight by doing cardio (spinnning) and walking but no strength-training, I was complimenting myself on how "toned" I looked.  Now, I realize that I was only misleading myself. I will never be "toned" or fit or buff, but at least I lost some weight. 

Muscle tone is something you have, not something you do, which you know perfectly well.

 You didn't gain your results by doing a "5 easy toning moves" workout you found in Shape magazine wielding a 1.5lbs dumbbell or by flailing around on the RED exerciser, or by lying around doing the fundamental Pilates toning moves - but if you insist that you did and try to sell me your secret toning workout for $19.95+shipping and handling with an enrollment in your "workout DVD of the month" club for only $59.98/month and a courtesy autoshipment of a tub of protein powder for only $160 a month unless you remove the microdot check-mark on your order form and call in to cancel you membership on the first Thursday with a full moon when the customer complaints center is open like every other jackass with a toning workout to sell, I won't hesitate to call you a bad person too.

 You keep using the word as if 40 years of marketing hadn't changed the mainstream meaning into something monstrously misleading and at least 3/4 of the way into fraud. Stop it.

 At this point it's too late to reclaim it, it's gone to the great thesaurus in the sky, it's shuffled off the autororrect word list, it's an ex-word, and only bad people keep using it.

Today, as I meander on one of my old-man, shuffling, slow (really slow walks) about the town, I shall ponder and ruminate about what I have learned about toning and not toning.

Then, instead of lifting my .25 pound free weights, I shall pound the heavy bag, trying to work out my inner demons.

======

Thanks to all!  The Fitness Board is a good resource and motivator.

To borrow from Goldsmith, "The World's most interesting man": "Stay toned, my friends."

Frankly, I would suggest that looking at photos of OGR chopping wood, despinamb skiing, Melkor dead lifting, etc would be good incentives for people to strive for an athletic, well-toned physique. 

You think I'm joking? Welcome to the world of weight loss scams, which is where most of the customers of these infomercial-touted toning workouts end up as leads and customers opted in through a hidden negative-option forced continuity program.

 You may think it's a joke. It's not.

I don't think that Shane takes the whole "toning" scam to be a joke.  He just doesn't want to engage seriously. Besides he says nice things about  me...Cool

We are probably all, without exception, amazed at the things that people want to believe will help them lose weight without changing their diets and doing some actual exercise. 

 Just take a look at all the recent posts by emcarteraz

http://caloriecount.about.com/profile/emcarte raz/topics

Just today there was an article in the NYT about a new cellute removal surgery.  for 7 grand you can have your outer thighs done.

 

 

melkor:

No, I don't think the overall "scam" aspect of companies/individuals selling "toning" programs and things like ab rollers is a joke.  That's why we have people like Elisabeth Hasselbeck selling some silly ab device to get people "toned."

On the other hand, I did think you were joking when you stated "Toning is a bad word and only bad people use it."

If you are serious about that, then I apologize for thinking you were being facetious.

I'm not offended by the statement; I just view it as being wrong-minded.  But what I think is inconsequential, of course.  It's your Board, your Thread, and your Definition.

despinamb

I shall seriously try to unengage. 

Best of luck to emcarteraz; apparently, she is not happy with her body as is.

I once saw a show about the things people do cosmetically to "enhance" their looks and bodies.  Some younger executive-types were getting artificial pectoral muscles inserted, much like a woman might augment her breasts.

Kudos on your exercise routine.  You shall be able to keep up with your son as he becomes a teen!

 Well, I shan't lie, I was not entirely serious though I was seriously annoyed when I first wrote it, but looking back I think the joke's on me because every time I see the word toning and a picture of Erin Andrews debasing a real fitness program into Pink Dumbbell stupidity and just sigh and move on because what can you do - I'm part of the problem of a fitness culture that tells women they should be afraid to live up to their potential for fear that some guy, somewhere will think them unfeminine. I was watching my 5-year old niece yesterday and looking at her I don't think I'm doing enough to counteract the message that she should stay weak and defenseless and never push herself for fear of becoming somehow manly.

 I do apologize for taking my bad mood and irritation with myself out on you though, that was entirely uncalled for and I hope you'll accept my apology. If not, well, I have it coming I suppose - we never need forgiveness more than when we don't deserve it.

 I'm frankly stumped though - I mean, we can't exactly censor the media and as long as there's a profit to be made Guthy-Renker and Gaiam will keep lying to people with an advertising budget of outlandish proportions. So how do we fight back?

(It's CC.about-com's board, I'm just the spam sweeper. Though I have some qualifications as a trainer, from what I gather you have 10 years and a couple thousand trainees on me.)

I don't know, but it's just like anything - advertising is always trying to sell us stuff that's not good for us - soda, for example.  Don't get me started on big corporations trying to pull the wool over our stupid eyes at every turn. 

All I know is that at work, men and women have been coming up to me asking what I have been doing to look so good.  I have telling them - lifting weights, heavy weights (in relation to the pink dumbells) and they are surprised.  I answer the bulky questions and then move on and usually recommend something from the NROL series to start with and I tell them about this website.  

Most people don't want to do that much work, so I fully expect them to continue buying the delusional stuff that Shape magazine sells.

In my place of work over the last 5 years I have seen most of my colleagues get fatter and fatter.  And they seem to be totally oblivious about it.  Really, it looks like someone went around and blew them all up with an air pump. This is despite all the new exercise and nutrition programs that my employer has put into place and is offering for free.  We have regular forums for speakers to come and talk about nutrition, healthy cooking, stress, exercise and other health issues, we have a health fair, we have regular and free blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar testing. We even had weight watchers meetings on site, but they were discontinued for lack of attendance, despite the fact that some people lost significant weight, which of course they gained back. It baffles me and makes me feel really sad for them, because they are hastening their own demise. 

 

Original Post by despinamb:

I agree OGR, (but then I think Clint Eastwood is still hot) let's not let Shane's head get too bloated, though. 

Patrick Stewart Rules!! 

Original Post by melkor:

 Well, I shan't lie, I was not entirely serious though I was seriously annoyed when I first wrote it, but looking back I think the joke's on me because every time I see the word toning and a picture of Erin Andrews debasing a real fitness program into Pink Dumbbell stupidity and just sigh and move on because what can you do - I'm part of the problem of a fitness culture that tells women they should be afraid to live up to their potential for fear that some guy, somewhere will think them unfeminine. I was watching my 5-year old niece yesterday and looking at her I don't think I'm doing enough to counteract the message that she should stay weak and defenseless and never push herself for fear of becoming somehow manly.

---------

Had a good chuckle with the deadlift! 

I don't know if  you heard this Pastor from NC who told his congregation Sunday "

And when your daughter starts acting too butch, you reign [sic] her in. And you say, 'Oh, no, sweetheart. You can play sports. Play them to the glory of God. But sometimes you are going to act like a girl and walk like a girl and talk like a girl and smell like a girl and that means you are going to be beautiful. You are going to be attractive. You are going to dress yourself up.'"

It is this kind of stereotyping and hate that makes young girls have fear of lifting weights or wanting to be "toned" 

When more real female role models make it to tv and magazines then maybe these things will change, but until then we have to fight back and let the young people know it's ok to be healthy and happy and you don't have to look like that walking coat hanger.

And the surgical interventions so many woman feel are needed really makes sick.  I used to think when I was in my 20's and 30's that I needed bigger boobs, but now am so thankful I didn't fall prey to the pressure of the media and marketing.  I have gotten 2 compliments in the last couple months from 2 guys I dated - one said I had the body a 35 yr old would kill for and last night it was a 30yr old LOL! 

I have worked long and hard for this.  I've been on CC since 2006 - I had gotten back up to as high as 194 in 2009 - I commented today in my journal that looking back I have lost 40 lbs it just didn't happen as fast as the first time I lost weight, but this time it is going to stay off.  this time I am healthier and fitter and much more shapelier.  I still have work to do but I like my 52 year old body today much more than my 45 year old body when I had lost weight quickly. 

The quick fix need it now mentality of our society is sad!! 

 

 

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