How do I tighten and tone without bulking up?


Increasing tone is certainly possible without bulking. To this actually means to maintain or increase muscle tissue while shedding unwanted body fat (BF). You will need to control your types and amounts of exercises and just as (if not more) important is to control your food intake and recovery.

When individuals are larger than they would like to be it is due to an increase in (BF), not the amount of muscle tissue you carry.  Muscle is tight and compact. BF is larger and spread out more. So, your primary concern should be controlling unneeded energy intake while working out as intensely as you can.

Maximizing your workouts with increased intensity will maximize calorie burning and "toning". Controlling your food intake will allow you to become "tone" while you drop BF.


Utilize High Intensity Training (H.I.T) while performing strength training to maximize your calorie burning and "toning".

  • An example of (H.I.T) training would be to perform a split stance dumbbell row while choosing a weight that is challenging (8-12 repetitions), follow that by performing 1-minute of step-ups. Rest for 45 seconds and then repeat 3 times.

Utilize High Intensity Interval Training (H.I.I.T.) during cardio to maximize fat usage and total calorie burn.

  • An example of (H.I.I.T.) Training would be to walk on a treadmill for 90 seconds followed by jogging or running on a treadmill for 90 seconds. Repeat 4-5 times.
  • This type of exercise brings you through multiple heart rates but allows for recovery. This would be superior to steady state cardio training (a consistent intensity such as walking at 3.5 M.P.H for 25 minutes) to maximize calorie burning.


  • Be sure to eat a healthy and energizing breakfast (An example may be some oatmeal and an egg) to maximize workout performance.
  • Eat at least 4 times per day to maximize your metabolism.
  • Drink at least 64 oz. - 96 oz. of water daily to maintain strength and aid in recovery.
  • Eat for Fat Loss. This means you should choose lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains while minimizing empty and wasted calories from junk food (cookies, cakes, white flours, sugary drinks etc.)


While training to "tone" many people will choose over-exercising. Exercise is a great tool to "tone", however, too much of a good thing can be detrimental. Be sure to get enough sleep to fight fatigue and prepare your body to maximize your workouts. Be sure to rest at least 2 days per week.

To your success,

The science of bulking versus tightening and toning is quite simple.  

To bulk:

You need to increase lean muscle tissue and/or increase body fat without a decrease in the other.  If one or both increase and the other does not decrease you will have an increase in the size of your body.

To Lean and Tone:

You either have to maintain your lean mass and lose body fat or you have to increase lean muscle and lose body fat at the same time.  One thing to keep in mind is lean muscle takes half the space as fat.  One lb of fat takes up double the space that a lb of lean muscle does.  If you are gaining muscle and losing fat but not necessarily losing weight you can become smaller because you are changing the composition of your body.

In order for you to “bulk up” your muscles have to be stimulated to undergo hypertrophy. This is accomplished through specific repetition ranges and high volumes of isolated resistance training. If you maintain a repetition range between 12 and 25 per set, the likelihood of “bulking up” is minimized.
The best way to tighten and tone without bulking up is to use high repititions and low weights. Depending on your fitness level you may want to start with 2 sets of 12 reps, go from exercise to exercise in a circuit without rest, take a short break between circuits, then go through again. Do chest, triceps, back, biceps, shoulders, legs, and abs. Another option is to do timed exercises as opposed to counting. Perform each exercise for 1 minute, push yourself and do as many as possible for that minute, then continue on to the next exercise.
Sadie Nardini
Alternative & Complementary Medicine
Have you seen the yoga body? Long, lean, often confused with a dancer's physique. If you want your body, whatever shape it is, to get stronger but longer, yoga is a great choice. It doesn't build contracted muscles like, say, lifting weights, because you're always stretching the muscles you work. Plus, you use your muscle groups holistically (many at once) rather than concentrating a huge amount of weight in one place. You may want to avoid classes that do a lot of boot-camp-like lunges or repetitive push-ups, or styles that encourage super-long holds. Instead, try a more flowing style, like vinyasa, something that makes you work, but doesn't overly fatigue your muscles or leave you terribly sore the next few days. You'll tone, but not bulk when you play this edge, and err on the side of doing less to get more of what you want from your yoga practice.
Under 5 pounds and do high reps. What is high reps? Pick a body part and do 100 of them. Yes a hundred, burn those muscles out. If you can't finish a set stop for as many reps in seconds as you have left and then finish until you get to a hundred. It is great for endurance and each time it gets easier and easier. Trust me.

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Types Of Exercise

Types Of Exercise

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.