Toning vs. Bulking Up: The 5 Most Common Myths

The health and fitness realm is loaded with all sorts of myths – some are just confusing and counterproductive while others can be legitimately dangerous. To help clear things up, let’s focus on two of the most common fitness goals – toning and bulking – and the myths surrounding them.

Spot training – Sometimes called spot reduction, this is one of the most common and persistent fitness myths out there. The idea makes sense on paper: if you want six-pack abs, you do tons of crunches. Unfortunately, that’s not how things work in the real-world. No research has backed up this practice. The truth is that, as you exercise, body fat is burned for fuel throughout your entire body – in a way that is largely governed by genetics.

Protein is just for bulking – Most people have a very specific mental image connected with protein supplements; Generally a big, bulky guy chugging gallons of the stuff. But research has shown that a high protein diet can help contribute to weight lose through appetite to control and improved muscle growth. Whey in particular has been shown to help improve body composition – reducing body fat and increasing muscle tone.

Lifting heavy makes you bulky – When they first start exercising, many people shy away from lifting heavy out of fear of getting overly bulky. This is especially true of women – leading to a whole mess of workouts supposedly designed specifically for women. The truth is, however, that getting a bulky, bodybuilder’s body takes years and does not happen overnight. The whole process requires a very well-designed and controlled diet and exercise program. In fact, lifting heaving – for both men and women – helps to keep your metabolism fired up and burning excess fat all the time.

Light weights/high reps makes you toned – On the other side of things, individuals looking to tone up tend to stick to a workout made of high reps with light weights. While this will help to develop some minor muscle tone in beginners, it is difficult to keep it working. The key for any workout routine to be effective is progression, which is difficult to do with light weights. To keep these workouts challenging, you’ll have to increase the number of reps –  essentially turning the workout into cardio. So, although no workout is truly useless, this approach probably won’t help you accomplish your goals.

You have to starve yourself to tone – It is common knowledge that weight control is largely about the balance between calories eaten and calories burned through activity. But sometimes people take this fact too far when they’re trying to lose weight – overly restricting their calories. While these crash diets will help you drop a few pounds quickly, they impossible to maintain in the long term. Which means that you can quickly gain the weight back once the diet ends, making the effort largely useless. But it’s worse than that. This type of yo-yo dieting can cause serious damage to your metabolism, training your body to hang on to fat instead of letting it go. Very often, people are more than a little confused to learn that they’ll have to increase their food intake to lose weight and retrain their metabolism.

To learn more about health and fitness, take a look at some of our other articles – covering a wide range of topics.

Eli Kerr

Eli Kerr

My three greatest priorities in life currently are the following in order: 1) Being a father and co-parent to four beautiful and remarkable children. 2) Being a friend, lover, and support to my sweet partner, Hala. 3) Leading and managing the company that I helped start eight years ago called Gnarly Nutrition.

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