Muscle Tone VS Muscle Mass Workout Routines

September 21, 2007

I don’t believe in damaging a muscle when you are going for tone.

If you want to build muscle mass (which I don’t), then you want to do enough volume of lifts to induce a bit of damage…then you want to allow the muscles enough time to recover to rebuild themselves a bit bigger than they were before.

If you are going for tone…you want to do less sets and volume so you don’t damage the muscles…since you are not damaging the muscles you can work those same muscles out more often.

Workout Routine
[Christiano Ronaldo…the greatest soccer player in the world…he is also a great fitness role model as well! Women prefer this type of look over a bulky bodybuilder for sure!]

How Many Sets for Muscle Tone?

Remember, your goal for muscle tone is to avoid damaging the muscles. If you get sore the following day, back off a bit the next time that you work those same muscles. I like to do 3-4 sets of anywhere between 3-10 reps for muscle tone. I chose 2-3 exercises per body part.

How Many Reps Per Set?

I am one of the few people who believes that strength training done properly, can actually give you amazing muscle definition.

I address this in one of the first posts I made on this blog: High Reps for Muscle Tone? Bad Advice!

I think that you can get alright definition with medium to high reps, but you just won’t reach your highest potential unless you include periods of time when you are lifting in the lower rep range.

There are times when I do 3 sets of 8 reps per exercise…and other times when I do 4 sets of 3 reps per exercise.

Why Work The Muscles Frequently When Going For Tone?

This is one of the big keys to muscle tone, that I never hear personal trainers talk about.

Muscle tone is basically the partial contraction of a muscle in a relaxed state…so your muscles are contacting a bit on their own even when you are completely relaxed.

The way to increase this is to contract you muscles hard (workout) on a frequent basis. Their are two reasons you want to avoid damaging your muscles. The first is that if you are sore, you will overtrain if you work that muscle again too soon. The second is that you will be unable to get a hard contraction on a damaged muscle.

Avoid Going to Failure or Using Forced Reps When Toning Your Muscles

Going to the point of failure will increase the likelihood that muscle damage will occur.

The bad thing about going to failure is that it teaches your muscles to fail!

Your body will react by not contracting that muscle quite as hard for the next set…it will also result in less muscle tone outside of the gym.

Going to failure and forcing reps is great for muscle mass, but terrible for muscle tone!

A Typical Split Routine for Muscle Mass

A popular mass building routine is the “3 day split”. This is where you work the entire body over a period of 3 days. Day one could be Chest, Shoulders, and Triceps…Day 2 could be Back and Biceps…Day 3 could be Legs and Abs.

The benefit here is that since the muscles are getting damaged, they need more recovery time. Also since you are only focused on a couple of body parts, you could really do a high volume of intense lifts for each body part.

Cardio would be limited to maybe twice a week for 30 minutes.

The 2 Day Split Muscle Tone Workout Routine

Since you want to work each muscle group more often when going for tone, you should try to split you workout over two days instead of three.

The great thing here is that you don’t need much recovery time when you don’t damage the muscles.

Here is the routine I’ve followed for the past 5 years. Day One is Chest and Back…Day Two is Shoulders, Biceps, and Triceps. The lifting part of my workouts only take 30 minute max and then I hit cardio for 30-45 minutes.

I do abs at night before bed. I don’t do any direct leg training whatsoever.

How Many Days a Week for Each Muscle Routine?

For muscle tone…I would recommend 4 times a week for maximum effectiveness…3 days a week to maintain (or when life gets really busy)…and maybe 5-6 days per week the month before a tropical vacation!

For muscle mass, I would recommend 5 days a week to keep those muscle growing…too much time away from the gym and they will begin to get smaller again…you could maintain that mass with 4 times a week.

Note: I’m just barely scratching the surface here when it comes to setting up a good workout routine.

The main goal for muscle tone is that you just need to remember that muscle damage and sore muscles are not your friend. Lift just enough to generate strong contractions…and spend the rest of the time burning off body fat with intense cardio…also don’t be afraid to lift heavy as long as you do not reach failure.

I’ll dig much deeper into the details of what makes a great workout routine in the near future.

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{ 100 comments… read them below or add one }

Jennifer September 21, 2007 at 9:14 am

So if I want to get really toned, I should work chest and back 3x/week and shoulders biceps and triceps 3x/week (6 days of training/week total)?

Right now I work each of these muscles 2x/week, and I do have some tone, but I want to ramp it up.

For a woman, is 8-10 pound dumbbells sufficient? I guess it is different for everyone depending on strength. The one exercise that never tends to “bulk” me up is the push-up. It seems I can do a lot of them and it just gives me a toned look in the shoulder and triceps. I do around 100 push-ups 2-3 times/week.

I have been working on the HIIT cardio and am already starting to see more definition in my tummy…Great Advise!!

Looking forward to your more detailed post on a great workout routine in the future.

C September 21, 2007 at 9:29 am

Every time I read this blog I realize just how much SENSE you make!!

I like the idea of strength training for muscle tone ALOT, because I don’t go to the gym. It’s full of frat boys and sorority girls who intimidate me to no end!

admin September 21, 2007 at 7:36 pm


6 times a week is a lot of time spent working out. Of course it will work great…it probably isn’t something you will be able to do for the long haul, but if you want to the fastest route to getting your ideal body, it will get you there.

An alternative to 6 times a week, would be to workout Monday through Friday…and just work the entire body on the Friday workout. That way you could work each bodypart 3 times in a week with a bit more rest. I’m actually a big fan of working out on Sunday, so I would probably do Sunday through Thursday.

What I actually do is workout 2 days on one day off, 3 days on one day off, or 4 days on one day off…depending on how busy life is at the time.


Elizabeth September 21, 2007 at 7:38 pm

Thanks for all of the good information on your site!

I have a few questions that I was hoping you could answer.

I am 5’6 and I currently weigh 140. In the past, I lost about 40 pounds through exercising and dieting. I became content with my weight so I stopped exercising for a while, but now I want to reach my goal weight of 125 and I have started exercising and dieting again. However, I feel that I am at a stalemate, and my body will not weigh less than 140 no matter what I do. It’s really frustrating because whenever I work out, I build muscle but I am not sure if I am losing any fat. I really don’t want to gain muscle, but I have the body type where I gain muscle even through only cardio. I have tried the elliptical, treadmill, bike, even yoga but everything only builds up my leg muscles, which I definitely do not need.

I would appreciate any advice on what I can do to lose fat while not gaining muscle.
Thanks! 🙂

admin September 21, 2007 at 7:40 pm


Don’t be intimidated by Frat Guys and Sorrority Girls…I was in a fraternity and after the first year, I pretty much only dated non-sorrority girls…or down-to-earth sorrority girls.

Have you ever seen Zoolander? Just picture the “pretty boy” frat guys like this and you will laugh instead of feeling intimidated!

I try my best to make sense!


admin September 21, 2007 at 8:01 pm


Good thing I have a sister who is in great shape. I have figured out a bunch of real-world tips that work well for women, because of her.

If you don’t want to build up your legs, don’t do any type of leg lifts first of all.

Also…don’t do anything that creates a “burn” in your legs or that pumps your legs up. Avoid exercise bikes from now on. You may even have to avoid the elliptical for a while.

Stick to the treadmill. You can workout hard on the treadmill without “pumping” up your legs.

Here is a great “muscle loss” secret (I can just see all of the personal trainers around the world cringing…LOL). Don’t eat anything for 2-3 hours after your workout if possible. Everything you eat during this window of time goes towards replentishing your muscles for the most part.

Also…do intense cardio and your body will adapt by “lightening up” to make the task easier.

Here is the cardio workout that I do:

An Aerobic Workout Program That Forces Your Body to Burn Body Fat


ryan September 23, 2007 at 12:57 pm

I wanted to ask you what would happen if u just focused on doing high inensity and stoped any lifting

admin September 23, 2007 at 10:02 pm


If you just did high intensity interval training, you would lose muscle mass in your upper body. I don’t think that people need excessive muscle mass, but you certainly want some mass (just a matter of preference on how much).

It doesn’t hurt to have a layoff from lifting every now and then. Depending upon how much muscle you want, you really don’t need to lift for tons of sets. A lot of it depends upon how much mass you have now and how much mass you want to have.


Steve September 24, 2007 at 2:53 am

I’m glad I found your blog. I actually found it from a negative post about your blog on Your blog makes perfect sense to me, and your physique is exactly what I’m looking for. Who wants to get all big and bulky?

Anyway, so what exactly is your workout routine each day? On day one, you said you do chest and back. And on day two, you do shoulders, biceps and triceps. But what exercises do you do?



admin September 24, 2007 at 4:07 am


Yeah…I’m not really popular over there right now…LOL!

I replied, but then the attacks just kept coming…I am kind of surprised that the site isn’t moderated better, but in the defense of…they get A LOT of posts! is the best place by far to get supplements. Much cheaper than any health food store and great customer service. It actually has a ton of good articles as well.

But…the forums are WAY out of control…I do my best to stay out of there…it just isn’t a positive place. There are tons of extremely crude remarks made about anyone who isn’t huge or doesn’t want to be huge.

There are many people that want to exhibit muscle tone at a much more “normal” size…and really that is what my site is all about. I didn’t feel like there were enough sites that focused on this…so really that is why I started this blog.

A lot of the guys in the forums clown on people like Brad Pitt, David Beckham, Ryan Reynolds, Daniel Craig, etc. They think those guys are “wussies” (they used a different word)…This is where our opinions differ…I think these guys are the best fitness role models.

Here is my exact workout:

Day 1:

Incline Barbell Press: 3-4 sets
Incline Dumbbell Press: 3-4 sets
Flat Bench Dumbbell Flyes: 2-3 sets

Chinups: 3-4 sets
Lat Pulldowns: 3-4 sets
Cable Rows: 2-3 sets

Note: The big reason I like to work back after chest is that it helps you to keep good posture. You see, there is a tendency for the chest and front delts to overpower your back and rear delts. If you end with cable rows it pulls your shoulders back into a healthier position. You will see a lot of guys in the gym with their shoulders “hunched” forward a bit…this helps to prevent that from happening.

Day 2:

Straight Bar Curl (using an olympic bar if available): 3-4 sets
Hammer Strength Preacher Curl: 3-4 sets
Incline Dumbbell Curls: 2-3 sets

Seated Dumbbell Presses: 3-4 sets
Dumbell or Cable Laterals: 3-4 sets
Hammer Strength Military Press: 2-3 sets

Lying Triceps Extensions with Barbell: 3-4 sets
Close Grip Bench Press: 3-4 sets
Cable Triceps Extension: 2-3 sets

Note: I like to end with triceps because it is common for biceps to overpower the arms a bit and cause them to bend a bit on their own. In general I like to work opposing muscles in the same workout, for this reason. I’ve tried the typical Chest with Triceps and Back with Biceps, but my body feels better when I work opposing muscles together.

These are just the exercises that I use. You should experiment a bit. For instance…I know guys who swear by concentration curls and other guys who can’t stand them. I don’t like military presses behind the neck, but others get great results from it.

Hope that helps!


Alberta September 24, 2007 at 5:22 pm

Hey Rusty,

Great website, quick question, how long do you rest inbetween sets?


admin September 24, 2007 at 6:11 pm


I like to keep blood flow in the muscle I’m working, but also like to rest enough to catch my breath. I like to rest about 1-2 minutes…usually somewhere in between.


Alberta September 24, 2007 at 6:23 pm

Thanks so much for the reply,

I have no idea what the guys’ problem is. The methodology that you use – heavy weight, low reps, is how strongmen of old used to train. Guys like Sandow, never trained to fatigue, always used heavy weights and kept reps low. He is way stronger then anyone on that bodybuilder forum will ever be. Oh well, to each their own.

admin September 24, 2007 at 6:59 pm


Well…I did write a post that crossed the line a bit after I saw a few big guys acting obnoxious in the gym. My post seemed to lump all bodybuilders as dorks, but that is not the message I wanted to send. I wanted to rip on dorky bodybuilders…not bodybuilders in general.

He in turn got pissed along with over 3,000 other people (that is how many more people than normal visited my blog yesterday). His post was in anger, but I liked it because I offended him and wanted to show that I am willing to listen to criticism. I know his post was written in anger and was probably a bit harsh, but so was my post that started this entire thing…I’m just trying to be fair.

Everybody has different goals and aspirations, so going forward I will focus more on helping people and less on hurting people by taking stabs at them.

As far as muscle tone goes…there are certainly great strategies besides just having low body fat. I’m a big believer in strength training for tone…basically getting stronger without getting bigger. Having low body fat is a given to be able to see muscle tone, but if you can increase the efficiency in those muscles while staying the same size…you will display an increase in muscle tone.

Sounds like you have read a bit of Pavel’s works as well.


PS: Sandow was strong, but believe me there are certainly some strong guys in the BB forum.

Alberta September 25, 2007 at 10:58 am

Hey Rusty,

Yep, have definately read Pavel’s stuff!!! Is that where your inspiration comes from? What does your cardio workout look like now? I have been reading alot of information on interval training, and one common theme keeps coming up- The Tabata Protocol. I’m sure you have heard of it since your incredibly well read in the world of fitness. Have you tried it? Your thoughts on it?

This website you’re running is excellent Rusty. I know alot of times people have no idea how to begin or maintain a program- or even what their goals are- and you’ve made an excellent resource for people to come to. Also, for people that have been training (for example- using Pavel’s principles) and have tried to ask a question on that forum about esthetic look of your body- you’ll get shot down and mocked (it’s all about how much you can lift how many times there). On a bodybuilder forum, you’ll get uch the same treatment (as you know). You have created the perfect medium.


admin September 25, 2007 at 12:54 pm


You have nailed down exactly what the idea of my website is. To used these advanced principles to attain an attractive physique. Just like you mentioned…those guys shoot down anyone trying to train for esthetics.

Despite what a lot of forums say…I know that most guys and girls want to train for form and function.

Thanks for reminding me of the “Tabata Protocol”…I haven’t spoke about this on my site yet. I tried this type of cardio about 2 years ago not too long after the study came out. It is tough, but I think I’ll give it another shot.

I’ll write a post about it today as well.

Thanks for the idea,


PS: All the comments you make will have to wait for approval…so there is sometimes a lag time between when you comment and when it shows up. I would love to get your input on a regular basis.

G. September 25, 2007 at 3:39 pm

Hi Rusty,

i have been reading your site pretty much since you started it.However, this is my first comment.FINALLY! a fantastic site with great information that you can apply in the real world and get real results.
Rusty i sometimes feel that you and i have read and resourced the exact same books etc.My mentors too are Ori,Harvey Diamond,Mentzer etc.
Its funny,we almost train the same way…
Anyway,i too have almost 15 years of experience and knowledge in fitness and nutrition and am a practising”warrior” when it comes to the nutrition side of things.
Hope its cool if i continue to comment on your site and maybe help a person or two with some advice about training and nutrition.

Bye for now,

Alberta September 25, 2007 at 4:55 pm

No Worries about the Tabata idea! I’d be honored to share my input with you.


admin September 25, 2007 at 6:58 pm


There is nothing I like better than for people to add comments that expand upon these ideas. We both know that this stuff isn’t mainstream…most of this stuff never reaches the general public, because people are unwilling to take a look at methods outside of what is in the popular magazines.

My goal is to take these incredible techniques and tailor them to help people look better (and function better as well). I also want a friendlier place here for people who want to look good. Some of these sites act like it is a crime…LOL!

Please comment any time you see fit!


I’ll get to that post a bit later tonight…I’m meeting up with a few friends for pool and a few beers.


Barbara September 27, 2007 at 12:51 pm

Rusty, I found your blog through a Google on building muscle vs toning muscle. I’m 59 and (to put it mildly) ‘out-of-shape.’ Didn’t used to be but 5 yrs ago I became a serious couch potato. LOL

My husband and I joined a gym (a hospital affliated facility) which we like very much (more of our age group than the younger set). I was curious as to whether the workout the folks there gave me was for toning (not building) and after reading your blog I can see it is. I have 8-9 different exercises I go through, 3 sets/10 reps per set. I realized I’d increased the weights too much when I started to REALLY hurt the next day.

Been doing this for 2.5 months/3 times a week (I do all 8 each visit). On the off days I do 40-45 minutes of cardio (working up to an hour each time).

Sorry for being long-winded here; I have two questions:

1. I found your notation about not eating after for 2-3 hrs very interesting. We usually work out then come home and have dinner. How will waiting to eat actually improves the benefits of our workouts?

2. What good do lateral raise exercises do? Several years ago, I tore my right rotator cuff and all this exercise does (I think) is aggrevate that shoulder muscle

Your blog is very informative. Keep it up.


admin September 27, 2007 at 1:48 pm


Great questions. As far as not eating for 2-3 hours after working out. This is for an extreme situation where someone who is stuck at losing fat. I’ll sometimes do it for 2-3 days to get a jump start on weight loss…then I’ll go back to eating after working out.

As far as the science behind doing this goes…when you increase the insulin levels in your body, your natural levels of HGH get decreased through a hormone called Somatostatin. If you did your workout on an empty stomach with enough intensity, your natural level of HGH will increase…not eating right afterwards will insure that you will get the maximum HGH response…which leads to fat burning above and beyond the normal metabolic increase.

On the flip side…You do have a natural window of opportunity right after you workout where your body will absorb more nutrients. If you are trying to gain muscle, then you would definitely want a recovery meal right after working out.

A good compromise between the two approaches would be to eat a protein source with either no carbs or low glycemic carbs. People use to recommend carbs after working out, but more and more they are finding that it eventually causes insulin resistance and fat gain.

So a good strategy might be for you guys to eat a small protein snack after working out…or a low glycemic protein shake. Then eat a more typical meal an hour later. Alternatively, you could just eat a low carb meal like a chicken salad.

About Lateral Raises

There is a an advanced trainer named Pavel Tsatsouline who is completely against isolation movements for the reason you mentioned. He believes that the muscles in the body are not meant to work in isolation and injuries are actually more likely to occur with isolation movements. He prefers compound movements because the muscles of the body work together, like what happens outside of the gym.

I actually do like some isolation movements, but if this is bothering your shoulder…then by all means don’t do it. You can get a great shoulder workout from seated dumbell presses. Since you have an injured shoulder, this is what I’d recommend since a barbell could force your shoulder into an unnatural, injury prone position.

Hopefully this helps!


Barbara September 28, 2007 at 7:12 am


Thank you for the great information! I’ll definitely share this with hubby. I’ve actually sworn off the lat raise machine. And also those machines for the bicep and tricep curl, as they caused my elbows and upper arms a lot of pain.

With advice from a friendly person at the gym I’ve switched to using the weight machine for triceps and biceps and am finding that’s it working out much better.

Eric September 28, 2007 at 10:57 pm

Hey rusty! thanks for all your effort into this blog! I stumbled across it and it’s VERY interesting and helpful…

i’m 18, 5’10 and live in SYDNEY , AUS….and the main sports i play are BASKETBALL and RUGBY UNION….i used to be lighter when playing basketball and i could pretty much grab the rim..but since playing rugby i’ve put on MORE muscle and heavier now but stronger…since i’m finishing school soon i want to start playing basketball again and be leaner and lighter so i can eventually dunk! Your articles on looking more tone is what i’m hoping to follow , that is AFTER i finish my final exams next month!! KEEP UP THE GREAT WORK DUDE!

admin September 29, 2007 at 1:08 am


I need to visit “Down Under”! I love beer, the sun, and women in bikini’s. Everybody I have met thus far from Australia, seem to really have a good positive outlook on life.

We should trade places for a while. You can live in my apartment in downtown Seattle. You would enjoy all the cool clubs within walking distance (you have to wait until you are 21). I’ll live in your dorm or wherever you live right now and enjoy the beach and friendly people.



Eric September 29, 2007 at 11:11 am

hahaha~ yeah the sun’s coming out and the temperature is rising! getting my tan on !

i lived in american for 2 months, went there with the school basketball team on a tour 😉


G. September 29, 2007 at 4:55 pm

Hi Rusty,

i too am from australia…

You should definately try to visit us down under……all those things you love and we too have great clubs.

I have been to the states but didnt get a chance to see Seattle.
Went to LA, SAN FRAN,MIAMI,and NEW YORK.Absolutely loved NEW YORK.
Best club i’ve been to TWILO……Danny tenaglia an absolute God of tribal house.

Ciao for now,

A September 29, 2007 at 11:12 pm

I am 5ft 4inch and I weighed about 139 in June. I started working out with a trainer who insisted that I used weights, despite the fact that I told him that I don’t want to get pronounced muscles, but i rather lose this bulk and be slimmer and tighter. Six weeks later, i noticed that my clothes were feeling tighter and when i weighed myself I weighed 145. It was so depressing. he checked my body fat mass( i think that is what it was called) and it was 23.5% and he said that was good because it should be around 23. So with that said, i figured that my muscles are too stalky and heavy. I don’t know what to do. I’ve been trying to lose this bulk and shrink this muscle and it is almost impossible. It has been 4 weeks and I have lost NO weight. I eat extremely healthy and run 2-3 a week. what should I do?

admin September 30, 2007 at 12:45 pm


I dig House Music…very cool. You guys from Australia are making me jealous!


admin September 30, 2007 at 12:51 pm


Honestly I would run more and lift less. The reason your trainer wants you to lift is because they believe that more muscle mass is going to boost your metabolism, which in turn is going to cause you to burn more fat throughout the day. This is kind of a slow way to get lean.

I have a post written about this exact thing right here:

Gaining Muscle is NOT the Best Way to Burn Body Fat

Hope that helps!


Mark October 17, 2007 at 6:05 pm

Great post again! I read you’re a fan of Pavel… What do you think of his routine in which you do only 2-4 sets total for weightlifting (he recomends milt press and deadlift)? That seems really in line with your philosophy… that would be only 5 to 10 mins of weight lifting, with lots of time left for cardio.. Just curious why you even do a half hour of weights 4 days a week.. I’d actually get pretty big on that much volume.. Thanks again for great work.

admin October 17, 2007 at 8:09 pm

I like a lot of Pavel’s training methods, but I don’t like his choice of exercises. The problem with just doing overhead military lifts and deadlifts is that the deadlifts thicken up your waist and build your butt and upper thighs too much…even if you stick to lower reps.

Pavel’s philosophies are all about “functional muscle”, and don’t pay enough attention to aesthetics in my opinion. I’m in between, I want functional strong muscles, but in a way that makes my body attractive to women.

You certainly could get by on less lifting than what I do. I just really get quite a bit of enjoyment out of lifting weights, and it is probably why I spend a little longer lifting than is absolutely necessary.

Pavel also doesn’t recommend cardio…and I’m all about it!


tim October 20, 2007 at 9:57 pm

rusty my cardio workout ive been doing is max ot Cardin ….you do it for 16 mins and you beat your previous time…. I was wondering what you thought about that or do you think 45 mins of high intensity cardio is better for you also is ok to switch to a different machine every workout

Matt October 22, 2007 at 12:07 am


First of all, I have to say I love your website. It’s great to finally find one that matches my personal health/fitness/physique goals.

I was wondering if you could offer any suggestions for my current situation. I’ve finally had my body fat tested and the results were less than flattering. Stats are: 6’4″ tall, 197 lbs., 21% b.f., 30 yrs. old. I have been following a program of full body weight workouts usually 2x/week and mixing high intensity treadmill work with indoor cycling classes (usually 3x/wk.). I have lost a fair amount of weight this year (was 215-220 lbs. back in Jan.-Feb.) and thougyt my body fat percentage was lower. Any suggestions for reducing the body fat without losing too much more weight?(I haven’t weighed under 200 lbs. since high school and weighing less than 190 seems crazy!)

Thanks and keep up the good work.

admin October 22, 2007 at 1:23 am


Your exercise routine seems “spot on”. It has to be your diet that is holding you back.

Please read this interview with Ori Hofmekler, the author of the Warrior Diet. I don’t think you need to go this extreme, but his principles are great.

Also read my post about it along with A LOT of comments if you have the time: The Warrior Diet


Note: If you have a small frame and you get down to 8-10% body fat, then 190 isn’t a bad weight at 6’4″. That is similar to a pro beach volleyball player build. Women don’t seem to mind that look at all!

Tyler Durden November 4, 2007 at 1:26 pm

I know you’re not a big fan of gaining muscle mass but i think i would benefit from gaining a few extra pounds of muscle. My mother’s constantly nagging me how slim i am and she desperately wants me to gain some weight so she always tells me to eat more in order to expand my stomach(she’s a doctor by the way)…I didn’t like the idea of it because it took me a lot of effort to burn off the fat but i lost some muscle on the way that’s for sure. Not much because i’m not skinny or anything just average muscle, low body fat= i look great naked but makes me kinda small in clothes
So recently i’ve been thinking about gainig some muscle so i could tell her i gained weight:)
But there’s no way i’m putting on extra fat…What would be the reason for that? Nothing.
It means that i will have to train in a different manner and the most important thing: Have to create a calorie surplus! I havent done it for a long time.
So what do you recommend to gain pure muscle and minimize fat gain? How much cardio? Still for me low body fat is more important than a bunch of muscle:) But i need some extra of it

admin November 4, 2007 at 2:31 pm


I’m not totally against gaining muscle mass…I am just really not a big fan of excessive muscle mass. You sound like you just want to add a bit more muscle without getting bulky. Sounds like a good goal to me.

I’ll write a post on this, because I know there are other people who are in the same position as you.

Have a great one!


J.L December 20, 2007 at 2:34 pm

Hey Rusty,
I justed wanted to comment that your information is really great, because of all your experience you have in the fitness industry (I’m going for my 3th year) you seem to have a better understanding about how everything affects your muscles.
What I wanted to comment on this post is that, altthough Cristiano Ronaldo is a football player don’t you think he does a lot of Back exercises, because you really can see the ”V” under his shoulders because of the shape of his back.
Or do you think this come’s only by staying so lean (Playing soccer) and isn’t going to the gym to do some good exercises for to stimulate the back muscles.
And i”m Going to keep reading the blog!
Keep up the good work


from the Island of St Maarten!

admin December 20, 2007 at 3:43 pm


Very cool that you are from St. Maarten. I always wondered where people from vacation destinations, go for vacation. The Caribbean Islands look amazing…another place on my long list of places to visit!

As far as Ronaldo goes…I’m sure he goes to the gym and does some resistance training. I’m all for that. What is good about him is that he doesn’t have excessive muscle mass at all.

For the back, I like chinups, lat pull-downs, and cable rows. Just keep the volume low, like 8 sets total for back and keep the reps low…then hit cardio hard.

Jealous of where you live!


Hunter January 15, 2008 at 7:50 pm

Rusty, how long do you rest between sets for your exercises?

Hunter January 15, 2008 at 7:51 pm

Sorry, just saw the same question above!

Carlene April 10, 2008 at 11:34 pm

I am very confused. I have been told, mostly from guys who like to body build that there is no such thing as just toning muscles. I have been a member of a number of gyms, (aerobics) where we work on toning.

I am not interested in being a bulked up mass of muscle, but want to tone to keep in shape.

Why is there such a difference in opinions regarding toning vs body building? What is the difference in exercise or weights from one to the other.

Help, very confused.

admin April 11, 2008 at 2:22 am


It is confusing.

To avoid building muscle.

1) Keep the volume low
2) Avoid the “pump” (builds muscle and capillaries)
3) Workout under a calorie deficit
4) Workout in a fasted state
5) Don’t do forced reps (these damage the muscle which leads to growth)
6) Don’t train to Failure (same as forced reps)

Do a brief weight lifting workout that focuses on getting stronger in just a few sets. Hit cardio hard right after that. Keep your diet in order as well. This will insure that you tighten up the body and burn body fat without building muscle.

The biggest mistake women make is doing high volume weight training. This is great for bodybuilding. A high amount of sets and reps can increase the likelyhood of gaining muscle mass. It certainly doesn’t mean it will happen, especially if you are eating low-cal…but it can happen. Don’t train like a bodybuilder.


Aaron April 22, 2008 at 12:22 am


Great article. I found really interesting tips, but I am a little confused about both the reps and weight amount I should be lifting. I am currently at college so have plenty of time to go to the gym, and over the past 8 weeks I have exclusively been bulking up. I think I am finally at the point where I am content with my muscle mass and now want to tone. I have 2 questions. First, how much less should I be lifting. I read your exact workout and understand how many sets. But how many reps are done (you said 3-10 but thats a wide range)? Also, how do I know how much weight to lift. For instance, when i was building mass, I essentially have lifted as much as I can to barely get through the exercise, but I understand that with toning that is not the point. Is there some formula I should follow? For example, 50% of what I would lift for mass… or am I suppose to feel out how much I should be lifting. If it helps I am 21 year old male who weighs around 155. Thanks, and again great article.


Lydia April 25, 2008 at 4:22 am

What if I just want my abs to look like Megan Fox’s off of Transformers? I am a naturally thin person and any loss of “fat” would look bad on me. Since I am only I think, 105lbs right now, I just want to get my abs toned… how do I concentrate on just one area without damage? I don’t want huge, man abs… just imagine Magan’s stomach… that’s what I’m goaling for?

admin April 26, 2008 at 1:12 pm


Sorry it took me a few days to get back to you. Anyway…lift heavy in the 3-5 rep range when you are lifting for tone. On some days, those 3-5 reps will be close to the max amount you can do. On other days you will use lighter weights and stop well short of failure. This post will help this make sense of this:

Lift Light Weights for Low Reps to Gain Strength and Muscle Definition


Stick to planks. Here are two posts you should read:

Great Six Pack Ab Video Shows How Get Extremely Toned Abs

7 Minute Abs? 8 Minute Abs? What About 6 Minute Abs?

This should help a bunch. Mow I have to get Megan Fox out of my mind. She is super-ultra-hot 🙂

Have a great one,


Kenny April 29, 2008 at 4:27 pm


Great site but Christiano Ronaldo is the biggest a-hole in all of sports.

admin April 29, 2008 at 4:33 pm


I actually don’t know that much about the guy. Does he have a really bad reputation?


Kenny April 30, 2008 at 1:12 am

Yea he is known for cheap shots and racist/a-hole remarks to other players.His game is mostly flash no substance.Think Stephon Marbury and Tim Hardaway rolled into one.Good looking guy, no doubt.As a soccer fan he is definetly hatable.

Batz April 30, 2008 at 1:31 pm

Hi! WOW i love ur page…great info I wish i’d knows yrs ago.
I weigh 149 pounds and i want to loose soem weight.I’ve been dieting for fewmonths,,and i lost 16 pounds,, but the thing is that i starved myself and i saw that the moment i eat justa little more than usuual i gained back 2 pounds.Now im maintaning the weight by exercising everyday 70 min of rollerblading,and 10-15 of bike and also 20-25 min of weight lifting and abs,,in these 20-25 min i do 7-8 min of rope…but my question to u is:do u think i can tone my muscles especially my arms, by just doing push-ups more then weights?coz i dont like weight lifting very much but i do all kind of streching, it possible to tone my arms just by doing push-ups?define them?
I eat pretty healthy..No sugar at all….i eat only fruits and red meat,,just chicken and fish.and how many push-ups should i do?daily?in order to tone the arms?define them? and do u reccomend it everyday?or?
thank u in advance for ur reply.
Keep up the good work

admin May 1, 2008 at 4:37 pm


Yeah…you can tone the arms with push-ups. Have you tried explosive pushups? What about one arm pushups. There are tons of variations. I think explosive is the way to go mixed with regular reps.

Look at these triceps!


Sai May 26, 2008 at 8:26 pm

No doubt that he’s a very much controversial player on and off the pitch…but his talent and technique is superb. Definitely going to win the FIFA player of the year along with other awards. Just look at this free kick!

PS: Yeah, he can be jerk sometimes

admin May 28, 2008 at 2:20 am


Is he kind of like Kobe Bryant is in basketball? An amazing athlete, but not the best off the field? I am not a huge follower of football (soccer), but I like it better every time I watch.


Sai May 28, 2008 at 5:24 pm

Dude, i’m just the reverse… I don’t watch basketball but I catch sportcenter daily and see Kobe enough to say that he’s amazing.

Euro 2008 starts next month and you can catch Ronaldo on Portugal squad…….

Can’t wait for it to start.

PS: He isn’t the best role model off the pitch

RockStar June 8, 2008 at 3:41 am

Hey Rusty, just found your blog today and I must say, it is AWESOME. I’m going to try and start integrating some of your principals. I too am seeking the hollywood toned look of stars such as Pitt in Fight club or Craig in Casino Royale. Right now, I’m about 5’6 and weigh 160 LBS. I have some muscle as I’ve been lifting for a while but its covered in fat (~20% bodyfat). I’m looking to cut now. And I’m trying to plan my routine. I have a few questions though.

1. When do u think I should include cardio in my routine? After weights? before weights?

2. How many times per week do you thing I should do cardio, for fatloss?

3. I read the response where you outlined your exact workout, and I don’t see how it is any different from a regular bodybuilding workout. You are still doing 20-30 sets per workout, but you just seem to be doing it more often than once a week as a standard bodybuilding protocol would call for. How can 20-30 sets take you only 30 mins to do?

Thanks for responding and keep up the blog. This thing is great!

admin June 8, 2008 at 11:40 am


I’m glad you enjoy the site!

I typically do close to 15-20 sets of 3-5 reps. That is a total amount of 45-100 reps per workout.

A typical bodybuilding routine is 3-4 exercises per body part and 4-5 sets per exercise…and 6-12 reps per set.

One Exercise might look like this:
Set 1 = 12 reps
Set 2 = 10 reps
Set 3 = 8 reps
Set 4 = 6 reps
Set 5 = 12+ (pump out set)
total reps = 48 reps

If this is done for 3-4 exercises, that is 150-200 reps for one body part. If someone worked back and biceps on the same day, that could be as much as 300-400 reps in one workout. I do about 1/4 of this amount of volume.

My workouts go pretty quickly, because the first 2 sets feel pretty light. I’m not training to failure, so I don’t have to rest a bunch. Plus the actual set just takes 30-45 seconds.

I can workout more often because I’m not “damaging” the muscle because my total volume is low as well as the reps.

1) You should do cardio after weight training: 10-15 minutes of High Intensity Interval Training followed by 30 minutes of Steady state cardio (this is a way to get REALLY lean).

2) Do Cardio 4-5 times per week, just after your lifting sessions.

Hope that helps,


Ig June 11, 2008 at 5:14 am

Hi Rusty
If i wanna tone up my muscles but i have some fat to start with what routine should i follow.
To give u an idea i’m a male of 162cm 72 kg and waist of 32.
But i have a problem of chest fat which i’m not able get rid off.
What should i do. started 6 months back with mass building but that dint help me in the chest area till now. Though i have gained some mass and my body size has increased. I had been following a one body part’s exercise per day routine.

admin June 11, 2008 at 10:16 pm


It is all about burning body fat for you. Read this post…it is a great place to start (you don’t need to buy the book…I outline a great fat burning cardio workout).

The Stubborn Fat Solution, Lyle McDonald’s Latest Fat Burning Book


Nim June 16, 2008 at 11:55 pm

Oh my God…I can’t believe I just found you! I spent lots of time to find helpful articles for this specific topic, but found mostly on body building. Now, please excuse me while I go read your other articles.

admin June 29, 2008 at 3:05 am


Dig in!


eLi October 26, 2008 at 4:35 am

hey rusty great site, appreciate all the good information i found on this site.

One quick question, i’m kinda new to working out and i’m kinda lost on what kind of food to eat also, i have really no knowledge on what to eat and anything like that

thank you



bo0!! October 29, 2008 at 11:10 pm

hey rusty, awsome site! it is being really helpfull. now i have a couple of questions for you.
im 18 yrs old and i just started a routine on weight lifting. now, what i wanted to do was to build just a little bit of mass (not bulk up) and then tone up that mass or muscle. should i keep doing my regular mass building routine and then after that start a tone-up one or can i add some tone-up exercises to my actual one? cause i would really like to tone up my arms and chest as well as my abs (obviously) lol


admin November 1, 2008 at 9:01 pm


Head on over to Scott Kuste’s site:

The best site on diet on the internet. He doesn’t push supplements at all. His approach uses healthy whole foods. Great source of info.


Thanks for the compliment. Don’t worry about toning exercises…there really isn’t such thing as a toning exercise. Simply get stronger at the main lifts. When you want to tone up your body, back off on the calories and do a good HIIT routine (click “Low Body Fat Percentage” at the bottom of the site for a great HIIT routine).

Hope that helps,


kieth December 23, 2008 at 5:29 pm

is it normal for me not 2 train until failure yet still be sore the day after?

Tom January 8, 2009 at 10:25 pm

Ronaldo is absolutely ripped. Women do love this guy. I often question his fashion sense though. He wrecked an unbelievable Farrari the other day as well! Imagine totaling a $500,000 car!

Manny January 14, 2009 at 10:51 am

Weight training properly is known by few. If it was easy then you would see a lot more muscular and lean physiques on the streets. Before you learn how to weight train properly, it is critical that you learn these five weight training tips before you even step foot in the gym. [Continue Reading]

Sky January 20, 2009 at 8:13 am

Hi, as you said, high tension and contraction build tone…. but i stumbled across this video, it is called Max Contraction Training System. So it is basically doing 1 rep exercise by holding them at the peak position for like about 30 seconds.. any thoughts about it?

Mikki January 28, 2009 at 2:31 am

I really like this site, there is unique in its type but I only have a question in how often you workout each muscle per week, I mean you say a muscle for tone can be work more often than when you are going for muscle gain but you are doing the same there, you are excersicing each muscle once per week just that you divide your workouts in 2 instead of 3.

admin January 29, 2009 at 7:33 pm


This would be a decent way to mix things up, but there is benefit through working through a range of motion for at least a few reps at a time. Perhaps do 2 of your exercises for a body part in more of a traditional manner and finish off with this type of training as a way to benefit from both.


When you do a 2-day split you have the ability to work each muscle group more often than you can with a 3-day split. I typically workout 4 days per week. With my 2-day split that is each muscle group twice per week. On a 3 day split that is 1.5 times per week. Over the course of a year at 4 times per week…I work each muscle group 104 times with a 2-day split…and only 78 times with a 3-day split. Over the course of a few years the difference is massive.


eric p March 10, 2009 at 5:14 pm

great site love it
iam in good shape but have little beer belly and goin somewhere in 7 weeks can i do cardio everyday am and pm for 15 to 20 minutes at a time
can i also do a full body workout routine mon thru fri as long as i dont damage the muscle
thanks for help and i really love your stuff here

Amit March 15, 2009 at 9:57 am

Hi Rusty,

First of all, let me tell you what a good site you have got and your articles give sound advice for people who want to keep in shape and be fit.

I need some advice regarding about weight training.
I’m a bit skinny and I want to have a definition like Cristiano Ronaldo. I’ve been told to do muscle mass workout routines to bulk up, then do endurance/power training to maintain my physique. I don’t know what sort of workout routine is the best for me so can you give me some general advice please?

Many Thanks,

rugby April 3, 2009 at 9:34 pm

hey man i like your site but i have a few questions.

So i have a disibility that makes the left side of my body weaker than the right, and i seem to have trouble ganing muscil in the left. anyways my left side is smaller then the right side so day you have any advice about how many reps i should do ect.

Also i have runners knee so i have to limit my cardio to things that limit the amout at which i can bend my knee. because of this i have been having trouble doing intense cardio so i do several 15-30min light intensity workouts a day during seperate parts of the day and an upper body circut workout i came up with. anyways any suggestions for cardio stuff would be appreciated.


cheesy May 5, 2009 at 2:20 pm

hi was just wondering is there any protein drinks dat work? i went 2 the gym 4 bout 6months n noticed no difference in size im really skinny n tryin 2 put on muscle weight

Meli June 10, 2009 at 10:38 am

Hi Rusty.

I have been reading through your site for the past few weeks, and it has given me a lot of great information thank you so much!
I have also read through the comments because I was too shy to ask myself, and I was sure someone else would have the same sort of question, but I think it would just be easier to ask you directly.

I am 19 years old, only 5 feet tall and I weigh 51 kilos. I am originally from Canada but currently living in Japan. Before I came to Japan I was 45 kilos and for the past two months I have been trying to return to my regular weight before I go back home. When I was in Canada I played soccer most of my life but quit at the age of 16. When I came to Japan in order to make friends I joined a volleyball team, we usually practice five times a week for at least two hours. For the past nine months that I have been playing volleyball, I definitely gained a lot of weight partly from the change of food and stress, but mainly my appetite became much larger as well. When I started my diet two months ago, I cut back a lot on carbs, and now my portion sizes are much smaller. My diet lately mainly consists of fruits, vegetables, some but not much dairy and little protein. When I started I quickly started loosing weight and with in a month I was 46 kilos and went from a body fat percent of 20% to 16%
The problem is that didn’t last long I started regaining weight with in the following week, but my body fat percent still remained low. I decided to do more cadio to see if it would help but I ended up going back up to 50 kilos, my legs became larger and my stomach area returned to the same size as before I started my diet and I still cant fit into my old clothes properly. I would just like to know how I can return to the same size I was ten months ago. The work out that I am currently doing on top of volleyball is, I jog four times a week for 30 to 40 min, I work out my arms and back two times a week and my abs three times a week, I also walk everyday at least an hour and a half. Lately I have also not been sleeping very much, I have been getting a maximum of four hours of sleep a night, could this have something to do with it?

Anyways I’m sorry for the lengthy explanation and I hope it makes sense.
Even if you can’t answer my question I love your site, and it’s a great place to keep motivation.

Thank you so much.

Robert June 19, 2009 at 3:14 pm

I have been visiting this site for a few months now,
my current training is going nowhere.
So I thought about the training on this site, and to
try for maximum fat loss and muscle maintenance.
I was interested in Rob’s barbell circuit training.
How many times per week do I do the barbell routine,
or any full body circuit training for that matter?
I like the idea of mixing cardio with weights.
how should I attack this?? Thanks,Robert………..

aleks June 22, 2009 at 8:07 am

ive found your site through google when looking for ways to build mass because im a teen and wanted to get really big. Then on your your site it reminded me that a nice, lean athletic physique is much better. Anyway im 14 and a half and about 6 foot tall and weigh about 145 pounds and have this sort of physique and not much fat but would like to add some muscle and get more toned for summer here in australia which starts in december. so i was wondering if you have any suggerstions for how i should train to add a bit more muscle ideally around 10- 15 pounds (want the v taper look but not too etreme just like really nice and lean) while staying lean and getting leaner if that makes sense lol. also because ive played soccer for years my legs are a nice muscly size but not too big but id liek to tone them more . so how do u think i hsould do that?

sorry for the really long comment and lots of question 🙂

Thanks, Aleks

G July 15, 2009 at 5:13 am

I’m new to working out at the gym and want muscle tone instead of mass. I’m not really sure what a good workout routine should be and I got a little confused by the explanation above. Is there any step by step routine you would recommend to start off with? I currently weigh 189 (just found out), 5’7″, and want to shape up. Could you/would you recommend a basic workout routine and from there, I’m pretty sure I can mix it up to my heart’s content.

thanks, and thank you for the explanation of muscle tone vs. muscle mass, a lot of people don’t know the difference.

Julie July 30, 2009 at 12:14 am


I’m 5’4′ and weight about 136 pounds. I do cardio about 5 times a week, and do strength training 3 times a week, which I do on alternate days. But I’ve found a lot of conflicting information out there, so I thought I’d just ask you.

I want to be slim and toned, so I’m doing HIIT

Julie July 30, 2009 at 12:22 am

Argh. I hit the submit button by accident.

As I was saying, I do HIIT followed by half an hour or so on the treadmill. But when it comes to strength training, people tend to favour high reps and light weights for getting the slim and toned look. Obviously as a girl I don’t want to get bulky, and you mentioned to do heavy weight for low reps and not to achieve muscle fatigue.

How heavy should I lift then? And should I go heavy weights and low reps? Assuming I achieve my ideal body, is HIIT followed by some medium level cardio enough to maintain muscle mass, or should I still do weight training 3 times a week?

Thanks so much, Rusty!

nathan September 15, 2009 at 12:39 pm

These are good articles, theres one thing im not clear on here though.

You said that when muscles feel sore after working out you get mass, but what if your workout was just running around and sprinting and then touching the ground or jumping up now and then?

(like good cardio stuff, gets you breathing heavily but also can leave legs feeling tired)

Jimmy Page October 30, 2009 at 4:33 pm

Working out regularly and hard leaves me in a constant search for low fat sources of quality creatine and vitamin supplements. After having tried numerous powders and stacks, I finally decided to try the Dr Max Powers Anabolic Stack after doing research about the stack and its ingreidents.

It seems to give me what I was looking for. I take it an hour before workouts and seem to recover much faster with no muscle soreness and more strength and energy the next day. Plus its made me huge. The research I did showed that the creatine included in the Dr Max Powers stack is the most efficient for body building. I recommend it.

Christian November 12, 2009 at 1:32 am

Great info in regards of work out routines to tone and in how it should be done, however, I have a bit of a problem understanding. I dislocate my shoulder awhile ago about 7mon. and just recently got back into the game in working out..I’m 5’7″ and Im skiptical in how much weight I can do or should I do when exercising, for example in each rep. should I keep a stable wieght or put a little more wieght on the next rep etc etc? for example 1st set of 15reps 10lb then 2nd set of 10reps 15lb? How should I work it out?

What about the 100reps workout?

Kimi December 2, 2009 at 12:28 pm

Hi there,

I am very happy to have stumbled in your blog. It seems that women and split routines don’t go together in most of the internet articles. I hope you can help me with my qualms/inquiries about working out.

I am a former varsity player in highschool and after I graduated college, I still wanted to keep my fitness level high and so I joined the gym last year. The thing is, fitness trainers are expensive here so it is only when you are lucky to have friendly trainers who really disclose information.

I weigh about 116 pounds, 5’3” in height. I lost weight already after re-entering the gym last July 2009 since I started at 123. I used to do a full body workout with lots of cardio until I found myself not hitting a plateau. My body stayed the same and my weigh did not change and it was only when I had a trapezius strain did I lose 2 pounds or so (from 118 to 116). During my injury, I had no exercise for 2 weeks. Though my intake of food was regulated, I can’t say I was that disciplined.

Now, the dilemma. When I was done healing my traps, I went to the gym and to everyone’s surprise, I look slimmer and smaller and well yes, I lost 2 pounds. When I look at my body, I definitely look better–skinnier. I just wonder why is it that I looked bigger when I was in the gym when in fact I was just 2 pounds heavier from now. Given that everyone seems to notice such, I am now really scared to hit the gym again since I might get “bigger” again.

Since I was encountered a plateau before, I asked a few of my friends, ex-trainers and they said that if I want to get ripped, I should go for the split routine and then maintain a strict diet. I was afraid that I might get heavier (numbers and physically) but my friend said that my diet will be the key so I won’t get bigger. So he made me this split program:

legs and shoulders
chest and triceps
back and biceps

I don’t know how to call this since I am not familiar with the various split programs. I am still on my 2nd day and I’m still not sure how this would affect me. My fear is I’ll bulk up instead of getting skinny/ripped. I do a lot of cardio almost every gym trip, 30 mins before and after of interval training–walk, jog, run then incline.

I was also told that I could use the circuit program and that for sure won’t make me look bulky but I am just not that attracted to the circuit program since I have to harbor a bench in the strength training area which is dominated by men.

So now after the semi-novel that I just wrote, what is your opinion regarding my program. The aim is to get ripped in a womanly fashion. Cuts would be okay but not scary looking. i just want to look smaller.

Hope you can help me regarding my problem.


Kimi December 2, 2009 at 12:34 pm

And oh additional info. I was told that I should find the weight that I can repeat 20 reps for 3 sets. Generally I am just carrying very light weights since I am still scared of damaging my traps. I use 4 lbs dumbbells and 15-20 pounds for the triceps cable/rope; 30-40 pounds for leg press/inner and outer thigh machine.

Lunch December 10, 2009 at 6:13 am

Is there any benefit to eat the same amout but 6 times a day instead of 3 or 4 times? Thanks

John December 10, 2009 at 5:14 pm

Hey rusty, great blog. I used to always believe in doing 3-4 sets to failure to achieve great muscle tone, but your method completely makes sense. I also however want to gain 5-10 pounds of muscle + being very toned, so should i keep lifting high reps until i get bigger and then start the toning methods? Or can i gain muscle from doing the toning method? thanks

Crista December 16, 2009 at 12:16 pm

This is awesome. I’ve been doing research for so long on how to lose muscle (or just not gain muscle mass) while still working on tone and being in bikini shape. it’s hard to find anyone willing to talk about the fact that you really can desire to lose muscle mass. I’m a woman, a professional aerialist, who gets comments on her “big muscles” all the time. I’ve been doing P90X for 8 months with admittedly wonderful, body changing results. however, being a mesomorph my arms back and shoulders have gotten quite bulky and my legs are bulky already. i want to keep my near six pack AND my Madonna toned arms but scale it down. everyone says to do high high reps low weights??


John December 28, 2009 at 4:23 am

what excersices we must do to build chest like cristiano ronaldo?
and how many reps and set?

or it is from his genetic?

sorry 4 my english..Thx

patrick February 15, 2010 at 4:08 am

i was wondering can i substitute regular leg work out with air alert and still lift for upper body?

MR May 14, 2010 at 7:29 pm


I am so glad i came across your website. I have been looking for this information for such a long time. I have never been so confused as there is so many websites out there that concentrate of building muscles. I been wanting to tone my body.

I hope you have time to answer my questions so i will post incase you do have some time.

I have been very over weight all my life until 5 years ago. 5 years ago i lost 13 stone. I am now at 75KG althou i would like to be less than this. But please read for the reaons why.

As you can imagine i lost allot of weight and done it in 9 months by natural exercise (walking on treadmill) and eating healthy.

Problem was i had so much excess skin i had to have it removed.

So far i had an abdominal plasty and chest lift. They cut and tightened the muscles as everything was stretched and could not be corrected through exercise.

Currently althou i lost allot of weight and have had the excess skin removed from my stomach and chest lift i still find my skin to be loose if you get me, i really would like to get my skin tight all over my stomach and sides.

I am currently awaiting to have the excess skin removed from thighs and buttocks, again there is loads of skin but i still want to tone my muscles for when it is removed. As i think i am going to get allot of loose skin on the thighs aswell once removed.

Because i went below 10 stone as i had an eating disorder i had to go upto 75KG approx otherwise my surgeon would refuse to do the operation.

My question to you is:

I want to tone and tone only. I want to have nice abs but nothing major like a body builder. I am new to all this so your advice will be much appreciated. I have been trying to find these answers for the past 5 years but i got so confused with all the information i gave up. But reading this blog post it has given me the determination to start.

1) Can you recommend what exercises i should do and how many sets/reps? are there any DVDs or equipement i should get that you recommend for toning?

2) Do i eat like if i am on a weight loss diet or do i have to go on some sort of special diet?

3) Is there anything that i should eat that may help in getting the abs i want (toning) ?

4) What body fat % should i be aming at? i am 75KG at the moment, 22 years old.

5) I have very thin arms and would like to tone them up. What do you recommend for this.

6) How many times a week should i do the exercises and for how long?

I have always been worried as because of all the excess skin that i would never get toned, but your website has given me the confidence and reassurance i need.

Sorry for all the questions and i hope you can reply as i have been waiting to find a site like this for a very long time. Knowing this information i can finally get doing what i have been desperate to do for a long long time.


vikas chaudhary June 12, 2010 at 9:04 am


Serious mass July 18, 2010 at 1:13 pm

Muscle mass looks better than muscle tone
Women like muscular body but not too bulky like Arnold Schwarzenegger and jay cutler , it fells good and confident to look like Jean Claud van damme or Sylvester Stallone they have muscle mass but not too bulky
If you have muscle mass even if u are with a shirt it will look like a bodybuilder but a toned man just looks fit he has to take off his shirt to show his muscularity

Muscle mass shows strength and power a person has I mean you look strong and you feel strong but not in toning

I have blasting biceps, awsome chest that pierces my t shirt and cobra lats
People see me they feel envy
I don’t have 6 PAC but muscle mass
But guys having 6 PAC abbs feel envy

Anytime muscle mass is better than muscle tone.

Naveen August 26, 2010 at 4:57 am

Hi rusty,
Im 6′ and weigh in at abt 190lbs with a BMI of about 27. Im currently working on my cardio by way of doing intervals. I do it all on a cross trainer (eplitical machine – hope I got that right). It’s like a stepper sort of thing which has handles for arm movment as well. And I keep my wieght training to a minimum (40 mins max) with abt 2-3 exercises per body part. Training split consists of chest & back on one day and arms+shoulders on the next. also i tend to do a bit of leg work cos i feel my body is slightly out of proportion. Is it possible for me to come out of this rut and get super lean or is it a pipe dream?

Chris April 15, 2011 at 11:10 am


I’m 169 cms with 164 pounds weight. I just started out my workout going to a gym. I am in for the toned body look and the question i have in my mind is like – dont i need to have some muscles on my body to even start with the toning?
I am not that bulked up with muscles right.
So i go to the gym start up with some warming up, then hit the treadmill, go walking in it for about 2 minutes and then enter sprint mode and run for 3 minutes and again go to walk mode for 2 minutes and then sprint for 1 minute.
Then i do some exercises on my hamstring..and my leg area followed by chest press, then legs again, then abs exercise followed by some chest exercises again. Then i’d move to biceps exercise and then do some pullups.
This pretty much sums up my exercise routine every day – 5 a week.

I am starting from the scratch nd have extra some fat over my stomach and my chest, which i’m hoping would burn out during my treadmill, chest and abs exercises.
Am i doing something wrong here? I am thinking of building some muscles first and then tone it?

Scott May 13, 2011 at 4:01 am

I used to be a fan of buying my supplements at I have since found MUCH cheaper! No problem with Just throwing another out there.

Deepak May 22, 2011 at 2:32 am

Hey Admin,,
I am Skinny guy with a weight of 110 pounds which workout routine i should follow for gaining mass

scott June 6, 2011 at 8:16 pm

for building muscle, 5 days a week is too much, 45 minutes per session on one set of muscles is the right amount, any longer and you are wasting your time as you won’t gain anything, also not giving your muscles time to recover will increase you muscle mass, but you damage you muscles too much and will then take longer to recover or worse damage a muscle too much causing it to fail and then you will be off of weight training for a long time and end up losing mass, but, not giving your muscles enough time to recover will also result in bigger muscles but no increase you strength.

stacey July 18, 2011 at 11:29 pm

Hey there! I don’t see any leg workouts! I am currently 5’6, 134..I bicycle 15 miles 4 days a week minimum. I used to do 2 day full body workouts since I waitress as well and we’re very busy all 4 days I work/bike. I have amped it up to split days but have a very hard time getting definition in my legs, ha?strings specifically, and I want to get rid if bulk, fat or just size in general. I want sleek, defined, great legs! My previous weight was 165 and my goal is another 10#…14 maybe! Can you help?

Jenny September 6, 2011 at 11:58 pm

My workout needed and overhaul. I decided I need to changing by creating a new workout lifestyle lift ing by adding weight training. This made all the difference in the world and has really been what has helped me lose weight. Obviously with that has come toned muscles too.

Jon November 5, 2011 at 4:48 pm

This is a great site, I am ready to try out this workout to see if it really works! I did have a question rather, this workout focuses on toning muscle. Does it also build a good amount of muscle? My arms are very thin and I am afraid that only using this workout would not give it that muscular but defined look that I want. (aiming for ryan reynolds or brad pitt, or possibly just even ryan gosling) Do you think it would be a good idea to switch every 2 weeks or so between this workout and another workout that focuses on building muscle mass?

Jasbir November 16, 2011 at 10:18 pm


I bought your e-book Visual impact for women, fantastic book, totally fits into what i was looking for for a long time as i was scared to workout with weights thinking that what if it will change my hour glass figure.. I really love your book, would encourage to make it a real book for life time collection of books.
One question I have is sthough that most women say that when they drop down body fat, their bustline becomes smaller and then most fitness models end up getting implants. I want to get really fit and if i do intense cardio, wouldn’t it affect my chest size especially if they are already small size? Does it really happen like that? Can women retain their feminine curves if they do intense cardio and reduce fat levels?
If i do shoulder exercise according to your instructions, it wouldn’t widen my shoulders right? I love my proportionate body and I do not want to change any dimensions but i want to get stronger and remove the jiggles that I have.

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