Muscle Tone – A Controversial Term Examined

February 6, 2010

Mention the term “muscle tone” on many of the major bodybuilding forums and prepare to get flamed.

I don’t spend much time over on those sites unless I notice a surge of traffic coming from a forum to this blog. Typically I upset someone for challenging their locked in notion of getting in shape. A member of one of those forums will then post something inflammatory about a particular post of mine.

Then I get a few dozen homophobic and sexist comments sent my way (the owners of those forums must be proud). This post will address the term “muscle tone” and why I use it on a regular basis, despite being a pet peeve of the bodybuilding forums.


[Just another creative photo for you. Mannequins can be kind of creepy, but that is what gives them their charm.]

Thank God for Mark Rippetoe and His Book!

I owe my understanding of how to tone a muscle to Pavel Tsatsouline’s work Power to the People. I read this amazing book back in the late 90’s and it changed my approach to lifting for muscle tone forever. While I think that book is pure gold, Mark Rippetoe explains how to improve muscle tone perfectly in his book, Practical Programming for Strength Training.

“The modern fitness industry’s concept of “toning” muscles is specious—it might sound cool, but it lacks any tangible and definable meaning. The term “muscle tone” or tonus describes an electrophysiological phenomenon, a measure of ionic flow across muscle cell membranes. It can be thought of as the muscle’s readiness to do anaerobic work. The more fit the muscle, the more electrophysiological activity it exhibits at rest. Lack of exercise leads to poor tone, aerobic exercise improves tone a little bit, low-intensity weight training improves tone more, and high-intensity training improves tone the fastest.

“High Intensity Training Improves Tone the Fastest”

Heavy strength training is what increases muscle tone (it is what I have been saying for close to 3 years now). It creates a muscle with greater residual tension while in a rested state…meaning the muscle is firm and defined while at rest…more “toned”.

Here is the rest of Mark’s quote about muscle tone…

As a test, go poke the traps or quads of an elite weightlifter at rest, if she’ll let you. They’ll he hard as rock. The same muscles of an elite road cyclist at rest will be firm, but not hard. Then compare the athletes’ muscle tone to that of a sedentary person. The results will he quite enlightening. Most exercise programs that claim to improve muscle tone are actually lower-intensity hypertrophy programs and are only moderately effective for improving muscle tone. If “tone” is the goal, strength is the method.

Low Body Fat Reveals Your Muscle Tone

The guys in the bodybuilding forums have a really basic understanding of how to create a defined look. They believe that you can’t “tone” a muscle.

They are flat out wrong and could learn a thing or two about muscle physiology, how the nervous system is tied into lifting, etc.

It is true that you need to lose body fat to reveal your muscle tone…but the muscle tone displayed can vary greatly depending upon a number of factors.

Bottom line, it isn’t just about building a muscle and then getting to low body fat levels to create a defined look (which is what many would have you believe).

Muscle Tone is a Function of the Nervous System

As Mark Rippetoe states, muscle tone is an “electrophysiological” phenomenon. Getting stronger is also largely a function of the nervous system. The greater the nerve impulse to a muscle…the stronger it contracts and the greater force that muscle will generate.

As a muscle becomes stronger, your nervous system becomes more efficient at sending strong signals to that muscle. Over time, the muscle will have a greater “ionic flow” even at rest…AKA greater “muscle tone”.

Note: I was pretty shocked by the prevalent homophobic tone of a particularly large bodybuilding forum. I guess that is what is considered cool on that site.

I consider this the same as racism. I can’t believe this stuff still exists. There are much better places to learn about getting in amazing shape without the hate and disgusting comments (I’ll get off of my soap box now).

----> (New) Facebook Comments..."Cause all the cool kids are doin' it!"

{ 56 comments… read them below or add one }

Mike February 6, 2010 at 8:31 pm

Cool stuff Rusty.
Never thought of muscle tone in this way. Keep doing your thing because remember… the insults are a form of jealousy. You have a great community of your own here.


kenken February 6, 2010 at 8:39 pm

Thank you for recognizing and pointing out the rampant homophobia on so many workout sites. You are right – it’s as poisonous as racism to the human spirit. It always amazes me that on so many sites, it’s just assumed that everyone reading is straight. Fail.
Keep up the good work, I love your energy and enthusiasm for fitness!

michael February 6, 2010 at 8:55 pm

Yeah man its crazy. Im a student at the University of Alabama and the gym is filled with “big” guys. They lift extremely heavy weight and swing it to get it up; horrible form. I just ignore it but then they like to laugh at me when I only lift three reps or im doing a stability exercise or core strengthening exercise. The funny thing is that I can do the weight they are “throwing” with perfect form eventhough im half their size. They really dont like that. Ive been reading your blog for about 3 months now and I love it. I have been doing what you preach and I have seen amazing results. I was in shape before with a low body fat. Now im known in the gym for having the best abs in the gym (because I stopped the crunches and do more planks and core like you said) and the HIIT training has burned off the little bit of body fat I had left. Since ive started lifting the way you say to my strength has shot out the roof. I could lift heavy before but now I can do so much more but ive lost weight. Its exactly what I wanted. Im 5’8” 160 and most guys at the gym look at me weird or kind of chuckle when I lift a heavy weight or strap on weight for a pullup but they stop once I do it easily. Im saying all this because i know exactly what you mean and its completely stupid for people to bash someone else because they do something different. Thanks for taking your time to post all of this information. Im glad I finally found someone who tells you what to do and then explains why it works.

Trygve February 6, 2010 at 8:58 pm

i want to build muscle, like make my shoulders bigger/wider etc. I should aim for more reps and less rest? like 12-15 reps x 3 with like max 1 min rest between?

Also i have a question about hips,ass and legs. Whats the best way to get rid of that fat? like how to train i mean. Is it best to jog/walk/run or can i do some type of weight training aswell? like very high reps stuff?

Clement February 6, 2010 at 10:31 pm

Another good post, my man! As you can see, you’ll always have a strong following regardless of how uncouth the bodybuilders are on their forums. I definitely agree with you that they look wierd with their disproportionate physiques. To be honest with you, I’m freaked out by their appearances! I find powerlifters’ physiques shocking, as well.

However, I have to be fair in saying I’ve found that bodybuilding forums like T-Nation have some useful content like the lifting-low-reps-and-volume-for-strength-and-power approach to improve sports-specific performance. People like John Berardi, Eric Cressey, Chase Karnes and Jay Ferruggia take a powerlifting-esque approach and the latter is a fan of muscle-building, but they’ve produced outstanding results for athletes like soccer players too. I’m pleased to see that these forums have threads for building functional strength now! You should visit the forum one day; you might be as surprised as I am that they weren’t slandering low reps and volume!

The pictures of bulked-up muscles and supplements disgusted me, though. Must they put them up on these forums???

hemanth February 6, 2010 at 10:50 pm

Mr.Rusty ,
I love these articles.I only train to stay healthy and strong ,I hate to look like a roid freak .I used to be really skinny,then I did those calisthenics three times a week.N after a year I’m better looking n stronger.
I liked one arm push-up guide.Why don’t u make a guide for doing handstand push-ups n one arm pull-ups.
I love ur selection of pics..

Michael H February 6, 2010 at 11:32 pm

Hey Rusty,

Thanks for the post really made me understand what I want to aim for now! I really would like to have the toned look way more than the bigger look! I always have asked myself why my muscle is soft when in rest. When you say high-intensity training what exactly do you mean? When I read that I though more on the lines of Heavy weights lifted slowly and with your muscles squeezed really hard, but I’m not exactly sure… Please help.
Michael H

ted February 6, 2010 at 11:50 pm

what would be a good bodyweight routine (sets,reps) to only tone (not gain muscle) because im trying to lose the “bulky” look?

Donkey Lips February 8, 2010 at 1:16 pm


You are the man! Thanks for all the free information you give out and the thought you put into it. It has made a huge difference in my life and it looks like it has done the same for your other readers. Keep up the good work.

Jeff February 8, 2010 at 2:32 pm

Hi Rusty,
I believe there is a lot of insecurity among bodybuilders – hence their quest to portray themselves larger and more formidable than their inner selves will allow them too. I have known several people with this mentality and it baffles me as to how they express themselves about what other people do in the gym as if it threatens them.

keep up the good work,

FitJerks Fitness Blog February 8, 2010 at 4:32 pm

Hmm… interesting. I always referred to this as “muscle tightness” (which drops if you stop working out). To me, “tone” sounds like a way to sculpt the shape of your muscles. Which you obviously cannot do.

admin February 8, 2010 at 6:19 pm


The bodybuilder sites are just a whole different deal. We couldn’t be at further ends of the spectrum. I just want to help people be ultra fit in the context of an exciting life. Bodybuilding a lot of times becomes a person’s identity. Again…I like the James Bond movie analogy…sharp looking well-dressed men and women who are in exceptional shape without working out being their main purpose in life.


My girlfriend is in the fashion industry, which is full of great people. Some people are straight, some are gay…to me they are just people. Crazy that homophobic remarks are acceptable on so many of these sites.


Yes…I have experienced this as well. These are the same guys who tend to drop weights or bang the plates together as they are loading up the bar. I love it when one of these guys uses 100 pound dumbbells on an incline press and then drops it to the ground. Completely unnecessary! I don’t use 100 pound dumbbells for more than 2-3 reps on an incline press, but when I do I put the weight down slowly. Sorry for the rant…I just see so much bad gym behavior.


Yeah…you should stick in the 10-15 reps, while aiming to fatigue the muscle. Each set should be tougher than the previous set if you are working for mass. I call this “cumulative fatigue”…it is exactly that you are aiming for if you want size quickly. Once you get the size you are after (or after 2-3 months in this rep range). Get back down to 5 reps to firm up that newly added muscle mass. This is all covered in my ebook Visual Impact…if you want to really get into to detail. For fat loss…you can’t target where you lose fat, so you are after a calorie deficit while burning calories in your workout.


Both T-Nation and have a library of fitness articles…some are great…I just thing that the forums have a bad element. The photos are atrocious on those sites. In fact, I am going to change my header graphic soon, since I don’t like the butt shot up there. It was fun for the first few months, but I have been meaning to change it for 2+ years. It doesn’t portray the vibe I’m after.


I would do a guide on handstand push ups and one arm pull-ups, but coach Paul Wade has done it best with Convict Conditioning. I feel if I did a guide it would be too similar to his and I wouldn’t want to do that. Everyone I know who has ordered this book, have been happy customers. It really is outstanding.


If you go to my Best of Fitness Black Book page, read the articles under the section “Increase Muscle Definition”. It is like you said, but I have several tips to make this type of lifting even more effective.


As I mentioned to Hemanth…Convict Conditioning is great. You would want to add in some Interval Cardio to burn off the fat.

Donkey Lips,

Thanks for supporting my site for so long and contributing in the comment section.


That is true for a lot of those guys. Obviously their are quite a few bodybuilders who are stand up guys as well. I just like to call out the idiots.


Trygve February 8, 2010 at 7:01 pm

Yeah i have your book Visual Impact, but i was just wondering about leg, ass and hips workout. Since i dont want to get any bigger in those areas i just want to get much smaller and leaner. Does this mean i should not do any weight training for legs? or should i do like 3×3 stuff?
Should i just run, walk etc. instead?

Matt February 8, 2010 at 8:24 pm

Hi Rusty, DragonMatt here.

Mate, just ignore all those fat, sweaty, freakish idiots!

All those guys started with the best intention (to get muscular and lean) and got obsessed with getting as big as possible (which looks terrible!)

I got ‘Çonvict Conditioning’ yday. 3 words: OH.MY.GOD!

That book is amazing! I’m gonna dedicate the next 6 months to getting to every ‘Master Step”.

I will combine that with Isometric abs(plank variants) and HIIT (Tabatta variants).

I know the answer to this but its good to get your opinion:
Do you reckon by doing CC (bodyweight strength) training over the next few months, I will get VERY ripped? I am guessing yes?

Final question: what do you think of Coachs opinion that the hanging leg raise is king of the abs exercises? Contraversial……

Keep up the good work buddy! 🙂


Arielle February 8, 2010 at 10:18 pm

Great post!

As a physical therapist, I can see why the term “tone” gets a very negative connotation. When we use the term, it is almost exclusively used to describe a muscle or group of muscles following neurological trauma. By that I mean, with any type of trauma or damage to an upper motor neuron in the central nervous system, one winds up with first decreased (or no) muscle tone, followed by a predisposition to increased muscle tone. Most of the time, this state of increased tone is referred to as Spasticity, but spasticity is only a valid term if the increased tone is speed dependent (if “tone” increases based on movement velocity). Whether the nerve damage is caused by stroke, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury, brain injury, etc, the increased tone tends to occur in a synergistic pattern (either extensor or flexor).

So the term “tone” in the physical therapy realm is never used to describe healthy muscle. We prefer muscle “tightness” or muscle “contractile ability” to describe the improved resting “tone” in physically fit individuals

Chris February 9, 2010 at 1:27 am

Hey Rusty,

as always a post about topics I rarely see on other fitness websites and forums. Keep up the good work! I love reading your original and easy to understand posts.

BTW I recently purchased your Visual Impact ebook and have started Phase 1 without direct leg training. I have noticed immediate gains in size after my first workout but have had trouble recovering fully for the next, making me not able to put in max effort for the lifts. Should I rest until I am completely recovered or stick with the 2 on, 1 off, 2 on, 2 off method you described?

Jan February 9, 2010 at 3:31 am

Great article, makes total sense. But I have a question though. I used to be a javelin thrower and now am stuck with huge shoulders and arms.

Anyway, when training as a thrower, I used to lift really heavy weights, and I was thinking my bigger upper body is the result of that. Any advice on how shave off a little muscle mass in that area??

Tom February 9, 2010 at 12:15 pm

I always enjoy reading your work and find it one of the rare PRODUCTIVE fitness sites.

Regarding the homophobic nature of many bodybuilding forums, I have an opinion. Have you ever gone to Flickr and looked at a photo-group whose pics are aimed a the fitness fans? I don’t anymore because they are full of gay content. That’s fine of that’s what you are looking for. But if you find photos of fit people motivating and look around for a dose of said motivation, you will be disappointed.
I will not draw a conclusion. We can all arrive at our own. But if you try it out, you will be shocked and it may shed light on bodybuilders’ focus on the phobia.

Thank you all for an exceptional site!

Shaun Miles February 9, 2010 at 12:45 pm

My names Shaun, 17 years of age and I’m a regular visitor to your website. I am completely in support of the way in which you feel a person should be in terms of health and fitness. I just wanted to ask you a few questions on the way I should go about achieving my ideal physique. Firstly, I am 58kg and around 5’10. I have always been sporty and I current play soccer on a regular basis (around 3 times a week). My aim is to gain some weight and get up to around 70kg. As of the moment I am taking a weight gainer (Body Fortress Muscle and Weight Gainer) and I having been attending the gym for around 3 months now on a regular basis of around 3-4 times a week. I would like to general add weight all over my body and stay in proportion but at the same time I do not want to be adding to much fat as I’d like to stay as lean as possible. I have downloaded your latest e-book (Visual Impact) and find it perfect information for the type of physique I am trying to achieve. As I am trying to pack on weight I am following Phase 1 until I reach my weight target of around 70kg and then I aim to focus on creating muscle density and decrease my body fat percentage and end up at around 67kg. My main problem is that I am worrying that if I try my best to pack on the weight I will end up gaining more fat then muscle for example. Another worry of mine is that as I play soccer on a regular basis and thus will be burning a lot of calories through cardio-like work I will be limiting the amount of mass I could be gaining. If possible could you give me an vague idea of how I should go about my diet, gym workout etc. Thanks for your help, very much appreciated and keep up the great work 🙂

Mark February 9, 2010 at 9:02 pm


Wanted Rusty’s and the forum’s opinion on the following items:

1) I am doing 3 ESE fasts per week. I do it mon/tue and then thursday. Would it be more beneficial to do this on non-consecutive days like mon/wed/fri? Also, on my non-fasting days, many times I do not eat breakfast… it seems sometimes on the weekends and some weeknights, I get a bit hungry. just want to make sure if there is any way better of doing it 3X per week. Would it still be better to do the ESE 2X a week?

Aditya, would like your comments on this as well.

2) Is it better to do 30s intervals or 60s intervals? I am wanting to lose the most fat and get the most tone… seems I am able to go a bit faster with 30s and consequently raise by heart rate higher by doing this. please provide any input…opinions… thanks all!!!

Mike February 10, 2010 at 1:38 am

great site, I think total fitness, strength, speed, flexibilty, endurance should be the ultimate goal. Thats what builds that appealing physique.


Jeron February 10, 2010 at 2:32 am

Thank you for this post! I have always noticed this trend and have incorporated it into my clients’ programs, but I have never had the concept explained with any legitimate backing. Thanks for your insight!

Also, I wanted to take a moment to dispel some of the negative press about bodybuilding. As a competitor myself, I use bodybuilding as a way to keep myself accountable to maintaining my own 70lb weight loss as well as learn and practice new methods of muscle development. I enjoy having a way to continue to push and develop my body and to set and accomplish new goals.

I can attest that many of my friends and colleagues in the industry/sport share the same mentality. Bodybuilding has been an amazing community of friends for me, very welcoming and encouraging of fans and newcomers.

This is not so say that there isn’t a lot of truth in what has been said, simply that I think that online forums are more likely to draw some of the more flagrantly “douschey” people, for lack of a better term. That is why I, personally, stay away from bodybuilding forums myself. There are more people trying to affirm their hypermanliness behind the protection of the internet…

So don’t let their bad example spoil your view of the sport; it’s not as bad as they make it seem.

And thanks for a great post!

Anthony Y. February 10, 2010 at 11:20 am

Hey Rusty,

I found your website two weeks ago and I have thoroughly enjoyed reading and learning about your take on fitness. Starting last week, I have decided to get myself into the best shape possible for my vacation in June.

I’m 6’1 and 233 lbs. This week, I’ve just started the ESE style of diet (2 fast/wk) and have also been using your resistance training 2-day split and 25 mins. of HIIT this week (3x/wk). I plan on moving to your “event-ready” regiment about a month before my vacation. All and all, I have 16 weeks to get in great shape.

I have a couple of questions:

1-Do you think the resistance training split will be enough to get my weight down to at least 200 lbs by that time?

2-How heavy should I be lifting? I used to lift to tone so the weights were a bit challenging but not too heavy.

3-I primarily use the upright bike to do my HIIT training and I don’t use the treadmill because I don’t like the way my knees feel afterwards. Is there a variation of HIIT that I could perform on the elliptical?

4- I was also thinking about incorporating some turbulence training workouts and Stronglift 5×5 training into my workout regiment after about 4-5 weeks. Should I? If so, what principles of these workouts should I incorporate?


Alex February 10, 2010 at 1:07 pm

Hey Rusty,

Another great read. I’ve been following your blog for a few months now. I also recently purchased your e-book “Visual Impact”. All really good stuff that makes sense to me. I started the phase I workout from Visual Impact about a month ago. Really dig the workout and can tell I am really taxing my muscles by going higher reps with minimal rest between sets. Can’t wait to start phase II where I can start “toning” up again.

As for the homophobes, ignore them. I am not sure why, but anytime you get a bunch of guys together that disagree on a subject, the default is to go with the gay flames. Never understood this. Don’t let it bother you.

Oh… thought I’d add one of my favorites from the gym… how about the guys that walk around with their chests puffed out like they carrying 200 lb suitcases to their sides? LOL… I love watching these guys. It’s like they’re in their own little world. They don’t realize how ridiculous they look to some of us.

Alex February 10, 2010 at 1:10 pm

One more thing Rusty… Have you ever thought about using pictures submitted by your readers? Just a thought. I am an amateur photographer and would be happy to submit a few shots.

john February 10, 2010 at 1:56 pm

Hey, Rusty
just bought your e-book good read and like the content and the science/logic behind it. One quick question in the workouts do you do one exercise all sets before moving to the next exercise. For example, do you finish all your flat bench sets before moving on to say, BB rows? I just wanted to make sure I am understanding how you set up your workouts. By the way love reading your blog I think you always have some great content on here. Thanks, for sticking to your guns and I look forword to hearing from you. Thanks, for all your hard work.

Andrea J February 10, 2010 at 4:59 pm

Hey There,
I’m a new reader and I just wanted to tell you I think your blog is great. I’ve spent the past few hours reading your archives, and I’ve already learned so much! I feel so much smarter after reading your articles lol You have a great way of explaining things and I think your ideas and viewpoints are right on. I will definitely be checking back often! Thanks and keep up the great work!

Devecque February 10, 2010 at 5:33 pm

Hello, Rusty! Thanks a lot for the feedback =)
I was wondering if my workout is ok. That’s what i’ve been doing for a week now: I workout as you say (strength + HIIT), but two days a week I do what I think it’s “metabolic resistance training” (example: dips – 30s rest + incline barbell bench press – 30s + incline chest fly w/ dumbells – always 3-5 reps), and i hit HIIT when it’s all done. Is that alright?

I believe I’m skinny fat. I weight 157 pounds and I’m 5’61” tall. I was wondering if I can take a protein shake as my breakfast and after the workout, but I don’t know if that will be good for fat burning.

What do you recommend?

Thanks in advance for your time.

Johnny February 11, 2010 at 1:46 am

MUSCLE TONE (tonus) is the result of two things:

1. Constant synaptic transmission, or what Rippetoe refers to as electrophysiological tone.

2. Increased cellular content, from either increased number of contractile elements (sarcolemmic hypertrophy) or from increased amount of cellular fluid (sarcoplasmic hypertrophy) — or both.

Contrary to what Rippetoe said, however, weightlifters (Olympic-style weightlifters, that is) tend to display less tone than, say, body builders.

Weightlifters tend to train in the 1 to 5 rep range and thus are found to possess mostly sarcolemmic hypertrophy (contractile elements), while those bodybuilders who train both in the low AND higher rep range are found to have both sarcolemmic AND sarcoplasmic hypertrophy.

Weightlifters are super strong because of their training parameters, while many bodybuilders, although appreciably strong, also possess a good amount of cellular fluid because of a training program that often includes higher set volume.

In any case, the word tone is a very real description of muscle status, and I personally enjoy having muscles that are TONED.

Great post, Rusty.


Matt February 11, 2010 at 3:06 am

@ Devecque:

Hey buddy, if you want to lose burn fat, ditch the shake after your workout. Its just excess calories that you DON’T NEED!


Mark February 11, 2010 at 12:37 pm

Hi Rusty,

Am looking to get Aditya’s email… would you have it… also can anyone reply with thoughts/comments on my previous post?


David February 13, 2010 at 1:54 am

Hi Rusty,

I’m weight training for basketball and people tell me to do 2-3 sets of 15-20 rep range resting for 60 seconds to gain muscle endurance, explosivness and muscle tone are they right? And also would it add on muscle mass because I wanna stay the same shape that I’m in but a little more toned. And do plyometrics increase mucle mass as well?

Jordan February 14, 2010 at 6:10 pm

Hey Rusty,

I’m new to this site and indeed, the ‘getting fit’ genre as a whole.
I’m 16 years old, 5’11” and about 140 pounds. I’m really rather skinny. I have started doing exercise at home, you know, 50 sit ups and press ups, and dumbell lifts working my biceps and shoulders. The only thing is I get the feeling I’m doing the wrong thing. Since I’ve stumbled across this website it seems like things are alot more complicated than I had first thought, e.g. you get different effects from doing higher reps versus higher weights and such. What I really want is to be physically strong and to at least gain a decent amount of muscle mass (not a great deal) so that I don’t look like a skinny welterweight. I know it’s a fairly broad question but do you have any starting tips for someone like me taking what it is I’m looking to acheive?
Oh yeah and props on this website, it’s really the best one I’ve encountered so far; you’re so out there and practical it’s great – and I also like you’re down to earth style and the way you interact with people. I’ll definitely pass on word.

Arthur February 15, 2010 at 5:55 am

Hi Rusty,

I love this site, only going for the defined look now.
You know what would be a great post…
If you can give a overview of the best ways to train for muscle tone… (if one does not yet exist)


Mindbodygoal February 19, 2010 at 9:20 am

Hi Rusty,

Outstanding post!

The times I have been told by clients that “I just want to get toned” and then see their faces drop when I tell them they need to lose some fat first!

The topic of muscle tone is batted around so much within the fitness industry with no true explanation – so amen to your post!

Keep up the great work!

Lena February 26, 2010 at 2:42 am

Although I am a tad late to this party, I couldn’t agree more. I was hesitant to type in anything even slightly referring to weight loss or exercise into google for fear of what it would link me to, until I found yout (this) website. I’ve been to those big “hater” forums and even at asking a simple, straight forward question, I am deemed a “noob”. Ok, this should be obvious, I am new to this, hence the question in the first place, no need to be snide about it, right? They’re too proud for their own good, and I’ll tell you why: Because they busted their asses getting where they are now using the wrong methods and with the wrong ideals, and they don’t look half as good as you (and thus, us) do.


Steve March 1, 2010 at 5:26 pm

I love this post! Very intelligent. I believe you and I have many similar views on fitness. My site tackles a lot of the same stuff –
How do you feel about using supersets and dropsets and compound sets for high intensity training?

alex March 4, 2010 at 11:15 am

hey rusty, quite a bit on the comment here, but i honestly never thought of muscle tone in that way before.

I may be a younger guy, but the info you provide is really good. I am heading out to hawaii in 2 weeks, so i am using your ” vacation-body-blueprint” I have currently been using it for the last week or so, and the results are just amazing. Many THANKS!


Ian Kelley March 8, 2010 at 3:45 pm

The reason that some ignorant bodybuilder’s are attacking you is that you have subtly attacked them with the theme of your blog and in many of your posts. As a natural bodybuilder I was a little annoyed at some of your writing initially but when I took a closer look I saw your content was good and your marketing was brilliant. Bodybuilding has a bad image and the reasons are complicated but if you haven’t studied it’s origin and history you might be surprised. From my blog:

Miks March 23, 2010 at 3:45 pm

Hey been following your advice and starting to see results on muscle definition, but i just wanted to ask a quick question. I’m 5ft 6 and weigh about 70 kg, I’m looking to lose muscle mass in my arms and pecs while maintaining strength and definition, become a bit leaner.

Any advice on the most effective way to achieve this goal?

Jordan March 29, 2010 at 12:57 pm

Hey rusty, I’m looking to tone all of my muscles. I feel I am big enough, what is the best thing to do? 3×3? my 1RM for chest is about 185. I’m looking for more definition, and looks like cam gigandet. thanks

Will April 20, 2010 at 10:17 pm

Hey Rusty how many reps and set should I do? I was going for a 5×5 workout with all the core big lifts like deadlift and squats but I remember one of your video said that this only had muscles to the thigh and hip area and your body would just look the same.

Will April 20, 2010 at 10:19 pm

Hey Rusty you said to lift heavy to get great muscle tone right? So are you suggesting to use all compound lift? Or should I also add isolation exercise like shoulder raises? Should those be that same as the heavy lifts with low reps and sets?

Pierre July 21, 2010 at 11:21 am

I have been reading many of the posts here and I find them helpful. I’m studying Psychology and I have an interest in Sport Psychology.

Protein shakes with high carb/sugar, steroids… Guys in the gym I go to have tried it all. Most of the bodybuilder see me and they don’t like me much because i do 3-5 reps mostly. Others who are looking for the calvin klein model look respect me.

I’m 6’4 and 178 pounds with very little body fat.

The ones looking for the lean model look, after seeing that what I do DOES work, come ask me for tips (not the bodybuilders, oh no, the know it all) and I help them because all I know I’ve read from the CST book and Convict Conditioning and your blog. I can do 10 one-arm pushup reps on each arm and that is something bodybuilders HATE me for.

What I’m trying to say is: don’t listen to them. All of us who have toned muscles know that what we’re doing is beneficial to our fitness and health (diet, HIIT and static hold exercises).

We also know that we are attractive and natural (no anabolics plx), and we feel good about it. In the end, that is what matters.

Keep doing your thing, your blog helps many people!

rocky robbin August 29, 2010 at 7:06 pm

I was going for a 5×5 workout with all the core big lifts like deadlift and squats but I remember one of your video said that this only had muscles nd I help them because all I know I’ve read from the CST book and Convict Conditioning penney lawyer@sacramento personal injury

Seane September 13, 2010 at 1:03 am

In my working position I lead more than sedentary life; I am sitting at my pc all day. I can tell you about muscle tone, or lack of it. Although I am within my ideal weight range, my fitness and muscle tone is disgusting. That is until I began Yoga. Yoga provides the ability to build on your core strength, without strain. It also provides a healthy stimulus to the mind and therefore buildings on the healthy body health mind concept.

Ultra Ankle November 9, 2010 at 5:58 pm

I was unaware the term “muscle tone” was such a controversial issue. All of the professional personal trainers and fitness consultants I know have always used the term, and whether the bodybuilders like it or not, colloquially it is understood to mean a certain state of the muscles which very closely fits the more technical way you described. What is the preferred term of these individuals who object to “muscle tone?”

physical therapy los angeles November 18, 2010 at 7:42 pm

It’s pretty crazy how much hate there is out there.

Thanks for the post. You definitely know what you are talking about!

Tone January 4, 2011 at 11:35 am

Muscle tone is at least still a better term than fat tone! Right now I think that’s my biggest problem — I’m still working on getting the fat toned down (err, removed altogether)… at which point I’ll then think about toning the muscles!

Alarms February 7, 2011 at 1:27 am

Muscle tone is definitely something that’s difficult to achieve. It takes lots of arduous work to sculpt the perfect body. Lord knows I wouldn’t be able to do it easily. 🙂

Steve April 12, 2011 at 2:07 pm

“The term “muscle tone” or tonus describes an electrophysiological phenomenon, a measure of ionic flow across muscle cell membranes. It can be thought of as the muscle’s readiness to do anaerobic wort.”

As much as homebrewing and weight lifting go well together, methinks “wort” is a typo.

anagram game October 12, 2011 at 6:37 pm

True muscle tone that you can see is only achievable with a low body fat percentage.

Family Law manila May 28, 2012 at 7:59 am

Now so this is what you called a very controversial one. That’s going to be so perfect. May 18, 2013 at 8:40 am

My brother suggested I might like this blog. He was once totally
right. This put up actually made my day. You cann’t believe just how so much time I had spent for this information! Thank you!

NoCrown September 26, 2014 at 12:43 am

It seems bodybuilding is full of homophobia despite the fact that tons and tons of bodybuilders are homosexual and bisexual. Not just a few but as many as there are heterosexual bodybuilders.

It is somehow contradictory that it is usually said that many people who bodybuild do it because they want to overcome some insecurities of theirs yet those insecurities seem to be fueled by bodybuilding ever since most bodybuilders will act as sexist, mysogynist, homophobic people.

muscle Supplement Facts September 29, 2014 at 1:02 pm

It’s a pity yoou don’t have a donate button! I’d without
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with my Facebook group. Chat soon!

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