By: Erin Cantrell

A toned body is a term we hear a lot from our clients when they step into one of our studios. To be “toned” is to have more muscle and less fat, which means a lifestyle change to incorporate strength training, cardio, and a clean diet. Changing your body composition will not happen overnight or even over a few weeks, but when you reach your fitness goal, you will realize the hard work was worth it.

You can achieve this new body and lifestyle in several different ways, but a favorite of mine is to lift weights 8-12 reps per exercise and doing 3-4 sets per exercise. When you lift weights for the 8-12 rep range, you should be hitting failure. Failure means that you cannot do the rep after the last because your muscles are too fatigued.

Cardio is also a portion of your program you can’t miss in order to get a toned body. We offer cardio programs to our clients just like our weight training programs because you can’t do the same cardio every day and see results. Mixing up the type of cardio and intensity is important; for example, you should incorporate a long run day if you prefer running for cardio. You can also cycle, walk, or swim for cardio. Incorporate a speed day each week that is shorter in duration, but more intense.

Then there is your diet….this is the most challenging part for many people. The key here is to take small steps toward a healthy diet so you are not overwhelmed. Our diet plans include eating REAL FOOD — eat like your grandparents or great-grandparents (depending on your age)! Avoid packaged, processed food and stay with fresh fruits, veggies, fish, and meat. Eating clean every few hours will keep you feeling light and energized.

Maximizing muscle gain and fat loss can also be done with high-intensity workouts or weight training with little rest under 30 seconds between exercises. We offer these workouts with private sessions and with our TRX HIIT classes, using body weight and weighted exercises in circuits with less rest and high reps.

With weight training, it is always best to work with a professional trainer or consult one for proper form and exercise programs. A simple full-body weight training workout should include:

  • Squats
  • Split squats
  • Deadlifts
  • Pull-ups (can be assisted)
  • Squat overhead press
  • Push-ups
  • Chest presses
  • lunges or walking lunges
  • Back rows
  • Planks & side planks

Using weights that are heavy enough so you can hit failure in that 8-12 reps range with good form will build strength and muscle, and if you want to achieve more intensity or a cardio state in this workout, give yourself less rest (30 seconds) between exercises.

These exercises are compound exercises, using multiple muscles per exercise to build strength and burn more calories in less time than working one muscle group at a time.

There are no gimmicks or secrets to having a toned body; it takes hard work and care for yourself. Eat well, sweat daily, and build strength. These tips are the basics, what I consider to be the foundation of a healthy lifestyle.

Erin Cantrell
Erin CantrellAuthor
Erin Cantrell is the creator of Erin Cantrell Fitness
in Ann Arbor. She opened two boutique studios in
the last three years that focus on inner and outer strength-training — all while raising her two boys and welcoming her newborn daughter this year. www.erincantrell