Estimates suggest there are more than 650 skeletal muscles in the human body. Muscles perform a variety of functions that are essential to life. Skeletal muscles are attached to bones via tendons and are vital to movement.
People who are interested in getting stronger and improving the appearance of their bodies target skeletal muscles in their workouts. While certain individuals are interested in developing large muscles or bulking up, many others want to appear fit by toning their muscles.
Adding a bit more defined muscle to the body helps people look leaner. Toned muscles also help with balance, proper posture and flexibility. Achieving better muscle tone comes down to embracing a few tips.
• Embrace resistance training. Resistance training refers to exercises that rely on resistance to contract muscles. This also may be called strength training. Lifting weights or doing body weight exercises, such as pushups and pullups are some ways to strengthen and develop muscles.
• Get in the pool. Swimming is a great way to improve muscle tone. Water provides resistance and can make the body work harder through simple movements, all the while protecting against strain on joints.
• Increase sets. Each strength training exercise should consist of around 10 to 12 repetitions of two or more sets. Increase sets once a strength base is established. Select a weight that makes it difficult to complete the final three repetitions in each set.
• Lower body fat with cardio. Cardiovascular exercises help maintain good health by strengthening the body’s most important muscle: the heart. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends 150 to 300 minutes a week of cardio activity. Cardio can help burn body fat, which will help reveal the muscles underneath, producing a leaner look.
• Increase protein intake. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends that protein make up 10 to 35 percent of calorie intake if a person is working to gain muscle. Select lean protein sources like chicken, fish and low-fat dairy. Watch the calorie content in protein shakes, as they can add too many calories and are unnecessary in most instances unless one is interested in developing significant muscle mass
• Be patient. Depending on the consistency and intensity of a workout, it can take between four and eight weeks for muscles to begin to get toned.
Anyone who has questions about muscle tone and effective workouts to sculpt muscle should consult with a personal trainer.