Toning up is one of those things that's always talking about in fitness, but not everyone is actually sure what it really is. It involves almost every aspect of health and fitness, but actually understanding it is crucial to getting there yourself.

But what does toning up really mean?

To put it simply, it’s developing firmer and more defined, stronger muscles.

Sounds straight-forward right? It can be, but it does require dedication and commitment to achieve this goal.

To get toned, you essentially need to be cutting down your percentage of body fat and slightly building muscle mass to an extent you want. (Don't worry, you won't become a bodybuilder.) A lot of people jump straight into the myth that muscle turns to fat over time, or that you can turn fat into muscle, but that's not how it works. You can, however, do both at the same time to help with the right toning up plan, if you do it the right way.

What Do I Need to Do to Tone Up?

There are a variety of toning exercises that can be done to achieve a more 'defined' body, but as mentioned, it involves commitment. It’s not just about lifting a few weights and doing a bit of cardio. You will need to exercise 3-4 times a week with a rest in between, focusing on weight training and full-body workouts.

The best way to actually do it well is not as black and white as you may like it to be. It's realistically going to be a combination of the two titans of exercise that are cardio AND weight training.

More compound exercises (like these) are great for burning the most calories possible while still building muscle. Cardio exercises are the best for burning calories per workout, so they're vital too. you need to find the right balance for you really, but it's likely going to be a pretty even split. Just focus on that all-important calorie deficit daily. You need to be having a net calorie intake less than your maintenance calories, through exercise AND through diet for the most effective toning up regime.


person performing a weighted lunge

When using weights, heavier weights with higher repetitions will help burn fat faster, enabling your body to build stronger muscle tissue in the process too. That's the best place to start. Free weights and weight machines can all help you to achieve a more defined and toned body.

Aside from kettlebell swings and bicep curls, using free weights when performing exercises such as lunges, squats and sit-ups slingshots your progress too! They further strengthen your muscles and core while increasing your metabolism to burn more fat.


If your primary goal is to tone up, you definitely shouldn’t ignore cardio workouts. Cardio is an effective way to increase your metabolism which essentially will burn fat faster and help in the toning up process. The best cardio workout is HIIT or interval training for burning calories per workout, but the best way to do it is to find what you enjoy. You'll find it much easier to keep it up long term.

This short, yet high-intensity workout can burn just as many calories if not more than an average 60-minute workout. You will also be burning off post-workout calories with the afterburn effect. Plus, it’s a great way to exercise when you’re short on time!


It goes without saying that you need to maintain a balanced and healthy diet in order to achieve the best results and lose weight. Avoid the fad or latest craze diets. They’re not healthy and can have a negative impact on your body in the long-term.

In order to sustain a healthy weight and lose weight safely, reduce your daily calorie intake and cut out processed and unhealthy foods/ snacks, and replace them with unprocessed food and fresh fruit and veg.

It’s difficult to go ‘cold turkey’ and cut all sugary and processed foods, but by reducing them slowly, your body will readjust and reduce the cravings for these food types. Keeping a food diary is a good way to keep track of what you’re eating.


These are the three pillars of toning up, and if you use them all as best you can, you'll see the benefits in the long run. Toning up is one of the most efficient goals to reach, but it's always wise to prioritise calorie burn above weight training progress. the muscle will build up gradually.

For more specific information, check out our guide on toning up from home!

 Home Gym accessories

Before beginning any exercise or nutrition program, consult your physician, doctor or other professional. This is especially important for individuals over the age of 35 or persons with pre-existing health problems. assumes no responsibility for personal injury or property damage sustained using our advice.

If you experience dizziness, nausea, chest pain, or any other abnormal symptoms, stop the workout at once and consult a physician or doctor immediately.