3 Steps to Get Toned Despite Genetics
Have you ever blamed genetics for not being able to lose fat, getting toned, lean or strong? Some use genetics as an excuse, blaming them for inability to succeed even before starting or trying.
Have you embarked on a fat loss or tone-up plan and despondently given up blaming your genetics? You say, “my genetics are against me losing fat on my ass, arms, thighs, tummy”… yea I’ve heard so many times.
Maybe you look at your mother or father, sister or brother and think you can’t do it because your family is fat or flabby and you think you are the same as them.
Maybe you think that certain people simply incapable of having defined arms. But… No, tone is not reserved for winners of the genetic lottery.
For most blaming genetics is an uninformed excuse.
How can you get toned, the look you want, lets be honest its about looks isn’t it? The answer is, through a combination of eating and exercise habit changes most people can get toned.
More specifically tone results from a combination of adding muscle and losing fat. Obvious… you probably already understood this so read on and you’ll see why it is true and ways to get toned despite your genetics.
I hear you say, “but genetics must play a part!” In fact, it is correct to say that genetics make it easier or harder to lose fat or build muscle. Genetics dictates a lot in fact including your general body type, muscle fiber ratio, hormone levels and of course is responsible for traits such as blue eyes or long legs.
Still, despite their importance, your genetics do not stop you from adding muscle or losing fat to get toned. Whats holding you back most likely are excuses. And not having a plan, ideally a personalised plan.
Stop using genetics as an excuse!
What it takes to get toned:
- Eat real food to fuel the body with a correct balance for you of the right macro-nutrients (carbohydrates, fat and protein).
- Exercise you enjoy (outdoors activity) with varying intensity levels focused on building muscle where you want tone.
- Sustainability and consistency in eating and exercise, to get tone and to stay toned.
There are genes connected to obesity that play a role in the way you store of fat. These can not be blamed as the reason you don’t lose fat. A great study (details here) published in British Medical Journal (here) found the fat loss was not related to the FTO genotype (an obesity gene). Quote from the person that ran this study:
“It didn’t affect weight loss when we simply looked at kilograms of weight lost, or BMI or waist circumference; however we looked, the FTO genotype did not seem to matter. We think this is good news — carrying the high risk [form of the gene] makes you more likely to be a bit heavier but it shouldn’t prevent you from losing weight. That should encourage people.”
“But do I have muscles?”
Yes you do and we all do under a nice layer of fat. You can find them and you can make them grow. This will give the lovely muscle definition you desire.
All I hear about nowadays is the myth that you must lift weights in a gym to build muscle. This is wrong. You can build muscle using bodyweight and other exercises, it follows you can build muscle without the gym. Most commonly the problem is that you are not likely to keep going to the gym so any results will not be sustained. For me getting outside for exercise in the fresh air is so addictive and sustainable on so many levels, this is what I would recommend.
Note: I actually have nothing against those that go to the gym (and like it). I understand lifting weights works extremely well for some people. I personally hate the gym because of the atmosphere and how boring it is. It is simply not sustainable (backed by statistics) and not fun therefore it is not effective. Why not build muscle doing something you love?!
“But what about my layer of fat?”
Yes we all have this layer of fat too. Your body fat % must come down to reveal tone. A combination of exercise and changes to your eating habits will reduce body fat %. Don’t worry about what your % is unless you have measuring callipers to hand there is no point. Change your nutrition habits and get moving to lose the layer of fat.
Remember, you can not lose fat to get toned in a particular spot on your body. It is a myth that the more tricep dips you do the more arm fat you will lose. What you can do is lose body fat (from all over) and you can focus on building specific muscle groups such as in the arms for increased definition.
3 STEPS TO GET TONED
1. Lose Fat: Nutrition and Exercise
A sustainable change to eating habits is to eat ‘real food’. This will reduce the amount of processed and sugary foods you eat. This means better health as well as better fuel for your body to burn and better fuel to build muscle. I like this definition, Real Food: Food that is minimally processed and maintains its natural integrity.
It may seem obvious but to ensure follow through you must change habits through planning your eating, preparing or cooking food and shopping for real food. Good intentions and willpower are not enough, the sugar cravings will come and suddenly you’ve snacked on a jumbo size packet of KitKats that were calling your name from the shelf! Snacks as well as your meals must be thought through.
Both building muscle as well as losing fat requires consuming adequate levels of protein which women are notorious for not eating enough. This is not to say carbs and fats should be cut, all macro-nutrients are necessary. It is essential to find a balance between the three macronutrients to fuel your life, exercise and muscle building. I’d recommend coaching advice but of course you can and should experiment on yourself as well.
Exercise will burn fat (with your nutrition on target) and exercise you enjoy is the key to sustainability. I love outdoor activity because it comes with numerous extra health benefits such as vitamin D, longer sessions, enjoyment, vitality, self-esteem as well as tension and depression reduction (referenced articles and scientific studies here and here and here). Find an outdoors activity that you love and it can be your exercise, therefore so much more sustainable than lifting weights in a gym.
Regular, varied and intense exercise is excellent for burning body fat to expose muscle definition. Make sure you have regular sessions that mix it up so that the body doesn’t get used to the same old weekly slog that is boring anyway. Best to add in intensity in the form of bodyweight exercises, intervals or the popular HIIT (high intensity interval training) sessions. This boosts metabolism, increases calories burned after exercise (after burn effect or EPOC) as well as building muscle.
2. Build Muscle
You want tone and definition, you need to build muscle. Utilise your body weight for an easy and fun exercise routine you can incorporate into your activity.
A gym weight training plan will talk about volume, but what also works well is to talk about intensity. You increase intensity by doing less but doing it harder. Bodyweight exercises and HIIT sessions are great way to ramp up intensity and build muscle. Incorporating these sessions into a run, for example, increases fat burn and builds muscle to get the best of both worlds (aerobic and anaerobic) to burn fat and build muscle. A full on gym weight training plan is great to build specific muscle and get results quickly. If thats your bag go for it, we just don’t like the gym, we would rather go play outside and still get results.
For a general example, lets say you want tone around your arms, shoulders and back… you need to build these muscles. Go for a run and towards the end of the run find a spot to add a 15 minute arms session. You could choose a set of say 4 focused arms exercises such as press ups (+variations), pull ups, tricep dips and hanging row. Do 6-12 reps of each one after the other for 3 sets, with 1 minute rest in between sets. For those like dips, pull up or bodyweight row you can find in a park bench, playground bars, scaffolding or any number of places outside to do these as part of the session.
Make sure you recover well and refuel well, with sufficient protein in particular.
You could do a push session, pull session, core session, legs session or what I’d recommend is full body session. It all depends on what muscles you want to see.
To really get top results, prevent injury and target the correct muscles you need to keep your form and technique through the exercises. Also, following the example above, you should be getting to a point after each session where you can only just with maximum effort squeeze out the last reps of the last set.
Remember, do not fear, you will not turn into the hulk with intense muscle building, it just won’t happen. What will happen is you will look awesome with tone and an amazing body shape! Even heavier weights in the gym do not make you bulky, see here and here for broad overviews.
HIIT in its many forms can also be used as can many other session structures to focus on building muscle with bodyweight while outdoors enjoying your exercise.
3. Sustain and Follow Through
Outdoor Body is not like all the other diet and exercise advice, we really focus on keeping the change. Keeping the change is a massive challenge, it is so more focused on changing lifelong habits to get out the door and to eat well so you do not fall back into your old patterns. This is the reason we talk about enjoying outdoor activity and a great way to build this habit is to make it social.
People tend to interact more outdoors so schedule a regular time with a friend to get out. Not only will this make it fun, it gives accountability, creates a routine as its scheduled regularly and prioritises your exercise… to prioritise your body.
A question you need to ask yourself is, “why am I wanting a toned arms?” Honestly I know it is probably for the appearance. I encourage you to look beyond appearance and decide that you will enjoy the process, the feelings of vitality and fulfilment you will get as well.
Sustaining a new way of life especially in the first few weeks can be tough, you’ll have to deal with things like sugar cravings, sore muscles and motivation. With the right mindset and building into your life triggers that ingrain habits you will enjoy the challenge. Don’t rely on willpower alone, you need a process.
Above all I hope you realise getting toned gives you more than simply hot looks. In realising this you will find a path that is more likely to be sustainable and a good fit for what you are trying to achieve. Success will then be inevitable.
What are the parts of the body are you having trouble with?
Can I send you some bodyweight exercises to help build muscle in those areas… let me know in the comments or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.