I hear it ALL the time
“won’t lifting weights make me bulky,”
“won’t more protein make me get bulky,”
“I want to tone, but don’t want to get bulky.”
Well friends, I am here to give you the good news, lifting weights will not make you bulky, eating protein will not make you bulky, and cardio is not the answer to getting toned. I think the best place to start in the “bulky” and “toned” chaos is to start with what is meant behind using the word “toned.”
What is meant by using the word “toned” refers to someone wanting to be able to see more muscle definition, but what that means to me as a coach, is lose body fat, so there is less substance there to be able to see the definition of the muscle, and to increase muscle mass to make muscles more prominent.
I know what you’re thinking, “OMG, Erika said to increase muscle! I’m going to get big and bulky!!!” Hold your horses there. Let me teach you about the word “bulky” and explain how that works.
Okey dokey, the word “bulky” is tossed around a lot and this refers to the increase of mass (body fat or muscle mass) that occurs when an individual is in a caloric SURPLUS. This here is key. A calorie surplus occurs when someone is eating more calories than they are burning during the day. So what this means is that you will only get “bulky” if you are eating too much food and/or not exercising enough.
To make things really black and white: your nutrition dictates how bulky you will get, NOT your exercises routine.
Now let’s go back to the beginning and talk about the role of protein and building muscle, but not getting bulky. So to “tone” you need to decrease body fat (eating in a caloric deficit), and build muscle, but how the heck do you do both? Well, prioritizing protein will be key, honestly for the sake of this conversation, you can completely ignore carbs and fats, those don’t matter so much for this topic.
You will want to keep your calories is a minor deficit and prioritize eating the amount of protein that supports your goals (ask a coach or nutrition coach about exact protein amounts). Protein is important, because this provides the building blocks to building muscle.
What you need to know: If you want to “tone,” lift weights and eat protein. If you don’t want to get “bulky” eat less food.
- Erika Martin