Six Pack Abs and the Toned Look What’s the secret????
There is one answer I have heard more than any other from my clients in all of my years as a trainer when I ask them what their main goal is: “I want that toned look.” Just like every other fitness-related goal, the “toned look” has been twisted, turned, and convoluted to the point that “toned” has come to portray Sly Stallone in movies where he is ripped down to 2% body fat, but looks like this super muscular individual that could rip a car in half. First, let me say that I have actually met Sly in person at a health club I was managing in Center City, Philadelphia when he was shooting Rocky 5. He had that “ripped” look everyone strives for, but let me tell you. The Sly in person looked nothing like the Sly on the screen. Yes, he was super lean, super ripped, and looked in great shape. Although, he did not look like that huge, muscular Hulk-like character you see in the movies. That story brings me to the truth behind the elusive toned look as well as those six-pack abs.
First, to understand exactly what toned is you have to understand your own body makeup. When you look at your body in layers (and I am oversimplifying to make the point) you start with the bone. Then you have the muscle, a layer of fat, and then the skin. Unfortunately, when it comes to where the fat is on your body and how much you have in specific areas, you have to check in with mom and dad. They helped make that decision. And that is a key element to consider when chasing the toned look. Genetics play a huge part in what happens when you start chasing that toned look and how it looks when you’re done.
Now that you have that layered picture in your mind, here is exactly what the toned look is. The toned look occurs when the layer of fat between your muscle and skin is minimal, allowing your muscle to push against the skin and give it that tight, muscular, toned appearance. If the layer of fat between the muscle and skin is more significant, the muscle pushes against the fat but the fat then pushes against the skin and gives it that smooth “untoned” look. Or, if the fat layer is too significant, that body part just simply takes the form of the smooth, layered fat. It is that simple. Knowing what the toned look is, is much simpler than achieving it.
If you think back to the layers that make up the toned look, it is obvious to get the toned look you have to either reduce the fat layer, increase the size of the muscle, or in most cases, both. Once again, it is simple to understand, but not as simple to make happen. Here is why…
Let us start with the easier of the two: increase muscle size. Understand when I say “easier” I do not mean it is easy to do. It just has fewer uncontrollable factors than reducing the fat layer. If you want that toned look, you are going to have to meet with an expert and have a very well designed strength training and nutritional program. Remember, the toned look comes from the muscle pushing against the skin. To get that toned look, you need enough muscle size to push against and extend the skin around it.
Part two involves reducing the fat layers on your body. For example, if I want my bicep to have that “Sly Stallone” look I need to reduce that fat in that area as well as increase the muscle size. Here comes the tricky part… no matter what ANYONE says you CANNOT spot reduce! Your body will determine where it pulls the fat from when you go into a fat reduction plan. This is where genetics plays a major role. For example, when I did my original beta while building this program I lost 30 pounds. My body fat went from 24% to 17%. My bodyweight went from a puffy 204 to a very lean 174. Here is the catch. Thanks to my German genetics, the last place the fat burned off was my belly area. So, if my goal was that elusive 6 pack (which is just a form of the toned look described throughout), I had to take my bodyweight all the way down to 174 (normally I weighed 190), to eliminate the belly fat layer enough to get my abdominal muscles to show through. And therein lays one of the biggest challenges of getting the toned look. Losing the fat, but having no control of where it is coming off. And also at the same time, you are doing your cardio program to take off the fat, you will need to find the time to get in the proper amount of strength training to also build up the muscles. And you will really need some direction on your eating habits as well. Food intake plays an important role in both the fat-burning part and the muscle-building part.
Ok. So after all that, what is the best way to get that toned look?
To get the toned look we all desire, the first thing we need to do is determine a starting point. Meaning: do you already have a lean body but just not the proper muscular development? Or, are you carrying around extra weight that is hiding those muscles? If your answer is the first one, get with a good trainer to develop a well-designed strength program with just enough cardio to keep your body fat down while you are building up your musculature. Have that trainer discuss the proper eating plan to help build up those muscles. If you are lean but do not have the muscle size, there are other changes you are going to have to make which could include increasing your caloric intake. If you do that you will need to make sure it is not turning to fat and undermining your efforts
If your answer is number 2, we have some work to do. I would highly suggest an intense focus on weight reduction first, with a well-structured and monitored cardio program. It is not going to matter what type of weight training you do if you do not reduce those fat layers first. Once you have your body weight where it needs to be to be able to back off your cardio and replace it with strength training, then you can follow the directions given for example number 1.
The bottom line is this. Whether it is the “toned look” or a six-pack, you need to get your body weight and body fat level to a place where it is not hiding your muscles. This is where the Remote Training System comes into play. We can get you from where you are now, to where you need to be. It is a challenge and you will need expert direction to get there. Again, take a look at my before and after pictures. That could be you.