How To Get Toned Without Getting Bulky [Free 3-day Workout]

By JC Deen



If you want to get the lean, toned look, it’s important to understand how to work out to achieve the body you want.

Get Toned, Not Bulky With This FREE 3-Day Program.

The truth is this: weight training will make your muscles grow. If you don’t want to get too big or bulky, it’s essential that you don’t train incorrectly.

It’s been said over and over again that women should train as men do.

And while that notion isn’t entirely wrong, it can lead to overdevelopment of specific muscle groups that you might not want to make bigger.

For instance, many men want big chests, backs, and arms.

If you do a men’s program that focuses on building a big upper body, you’re likely to notice specific areas of your body becoming bigger and bulkier than you might like.

Plus, this is all about how you want to look. If you wish to have the more muscular look, that’s okay too.

Check out this article: The Muscle Building Guide For Women.

But if you want to focus on improving muscle tone while losing fat and maintaining your curves, make sure you follow these tips.

Toning Tip #1: Use Full Body Workouts And Avoid Lifting To Failure

The best way, in my view, to get the most out of your toning efforts is to use full body workouts and avoiding lifting to failure.

When you train hard and lift to failure, it causes your muscles to respond in a way that makes them grow larger over time as you recover from the hard training.

toned not bulky

And while you do want some muscle growth, you probably don’t want to add a few inches to your arms.

So the best way to keep from growing too much from heavy lifting is to stop 2-3 reps shy of momentary muscular failure.

EXAMPLE: Let’s say that you can squat 100 pounds for 10 reps and that’s the maximum amount of reps you can do.

Instead of going to failure and maxing out at 10, you would want to stop at rep 7 or 8 and do no more.

This way you can do 3-4 sets of the exercise and get all the muscle toning effects without going to failure and causing your muscles to grow and become bulky over time.

Training to failure is an excellent tool for making your muscles get bigger, and if that’s your goal, then that’s how you would want to train.

But to make sure you stay lean and don’t go up a size or two, focus on contracting the muscles forcefully during your lifting and again, avoid going to complete failure.

Toning Tip #2: Keep Your Weight Training Workouts Short

toned not bulky

I recommend structuring your workouts in the following way:

  • Pick one compound movement for the lower body and do 3-4 sets of 5-8 reps
  • Pick two opposing compound movements for the upper body for 2-3 sets of 8-10 reps
  • For smaller muscle groups, pick one isolation movement and do 2 sets of 8-10 reps

This way, you’ll have a maximum of 5-6 movements for your workouts, and you will be in and out of the gym in less than an hour. Best of all, it only takes 3 days per week.

Toning Tip #3: Use Strategic Cardio And Nutrition For Fat Loss

Weight training will help you tone your muscles to give you the athletic, fit look, but strategic cardio and targeted nutrition will help with fat loss.

If you want your muscles to be more visible, you probably want to focus on getting leaner.

The best approach for cardio is to limit it to 20-40 minutes of brisk walking or biking on your days off of weight training. For extra fat burning, you can do 30 minutes of brisk walking after your weight training workouts.

To lose fat, the most critical part of the diet is to focus on getting enough protein, carbs and fat to fuel your performance while maintaining a caloric deficit.

For women, I recommend around .8 grams per pound of body weight for their protein intake.

If you want an exact routine to follow, get my program below:

JC Deen is a nationally published fitness coach and writer from Nashville, TN. Currently living in the blistering Northeast. Follow me on X/Twitter