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You want to look fit and lean but not ridiculously muscular? 

You want to work out and push beyond your limits, but you fear getting too bulky in the process? 

We know that not everyone hits the gym with the intent of bulking up or getting ripped. Many people just want to get physically active and tone their physique. So, let's understand first what we mean by a 'toned physique' - 

  • Looking slim but fit 
  • Less sagging and cellulite 
  • More firmness 
  • Being able to see some muscle but not having the sort of muscle that makes us look big 

There are many misconceptions about getting a physique like this. In this article, we clear these myths and tell you what to focus on to get a well-toned physique most effectively. 

What Should You Be Focusing On? 

Strength Training 

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It is essential to incorporate some strength training in your workout regimen if you want to put on lean muscle and help your body look and perform better. It helps boost your metabolism as building lean muscle mass burns more calories and adds definition to your body.

A common misconception about strength training especially among women, is that lifting weights will lead to a bulky-looking physique. Lifting weights promote hypertrophy and leads to an enhanced size. However, the thinking that it leads to a "bulky" look is entirely untrue. The real culprit that leads to a bulky physique is fat accumulation. Excessive fat is what causes both men and women to look bulky. The most crucial aspect of someone's physique is body fat percentage and composition. Having a well-toned physique requires a relatively low body fat percentage. Lifting weights can help you accomplish this. 

Eating At A Slight Caloric Deficit 

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It is essential to keep in mind that any exercise regimen is only as good as the diet that goes along with it. In terms of physique changes, diet accounts for far more than the workout regime itself. You must add weight training to build muscle, but it will all be for naught if your diet is also not dialed in. 

To lose fat and get rid of the "bulk," you need to follow a caloric deficit diet. In simple terms, this requires you to burn more calories than you eat. There is much more to the process, but in a nutshell, eat healthy and eat less.  

Eat a High Protein Diet 

selection protein sources kitchen

Protein is called the building block of muscle tissues. For building and maintaining lean muscle mass, you need to take a protein-rich diet. The amount of protein you need depends on your body weight and total calorie consumption.  

E.g., If you weigh 75 kg, you will need around 130-140 g of protein. Your protein-calorie intake should be somewhere about 30-35% of the total calorie consumption to build lean muscle or preserve it. 

Inculcating HIIT Sessions 

strong muscular build fitness woman sporty clothes doing jump training gym 1

High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) involves short bursts of intense exercises with a few recovery periods in between. Besides being one of the most time-efficient ways of working out, it can help you get leaner in an effective way. These sessions involve a short period of vigorous exercises that make your heart rate speed up and burn a lot of calories. You can include HIIT sessions twice or thrice a week post-workout to burn off those extra calories and get a well-toned physique. 

A lot of fitness experts don't like the word "tone" or "toning up" because technically, you can't tone a muscle. And that's true. Your muscles either grow or shrink. You either get leaner, or you get fatter. And the leaner you get, the more 'toned' physique you achieve. Therefore, you need to have some amount of quality muscle mass to achieve that 'well-toned physique. 


Stokes, T., Hector, A., Morton, R., McGlory, C., & Phillips, S. (2018). Recent Perspectives Regarding the Role of Dietary Protein for the Promotion of Muscle Hypertrophy with Resistance Exercise Training. Nutrients, 10(2), 180. 

Carbone, J. W., & Pasiakos, S. M. (2019). Dietary Protein and Muscle Mass: Translating Science to Application and Health Benefit. Nutrients, 11(5), 1136. 

Gomes, G. K., Franco, C. M., Nunes, P. R. P., & Orsatti, F. L. (2019). High-Frequency Resistance Training Is Not More Effective Than Low-Frequency Resistance Training in Increasing Muscle Mass and Strength in Well-Trained Men. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 33(1), S130–S139.

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