How To Get Toned: Legs, Arms, Abs, The Whole Body!


Toned and Lean BodyBest Way To Get A Toned Body

An insane number of people want to get “toned”. Yeah, that’s right, I put it in quotes.

Picture me sitting at my laptop writing this and then as I type “toned” I raise my hands and do that funny sign with my fingers.


Because toning, as most of us think about it, is a total myth.

When you, and basically everyone else, talks about getting toned what do you really mean? You are talking about your body looking nice and lean right, with an athletic appearance and defined muscle shape. That is what the majority of people think of when they use the term toned. They want to get the perfect body.

And that is great, we all want to look like that. Some of us want to get huge muscles, some of us want a slim and slender look that is the sign of someone who is fit and strong. And the bottom line is that if you want to look like this then you have to train, and you have to train with resistance.

Learning what is the best exercise program is crucial if you actually want results. What we do is the absolute best way to get a toned body, but there is one crucial ingredient:

And you have to go heavy and you have to go at it hard.

There are so many myths about what you actually have to do to get toned that I wanted to really get to the bottom of it in this article. It will save you a lot of wasted time and effort, and it will stop you from becoming very disappointed with the results that you get.

This applies to both men and women, there is absolutely no difference in the way that you should train if you want to get a nice lean and toned body.

Myth#1: Women Should Train Differently To Men

toned absShould women train differently to men to gain muscle? Absolutely not. And the reality is that if all women realized this then we would have a lot more kick ass looking bodies about the place.

But the fitness industry seems dead-set on convincing the majority of people that hard work, involving lifting heavy things, is the worst way for women to train. It’s a shame as this is the absolute best way to get what we refer to as a toned body.

For some reason myths have arisen that women should train differently to men if they want to get a nice toned look. They should not try to build muscle or they will look HUGE!

It simply is not going to happen. If we take a look at the average man who is on a good training regime, and is trying their absolute best to build an insane amount of muscle, then we can see that it is no easy thing to do. Most of us average men find it very hard to change our appearance by using heavy weights, and performing exercises like chin-ups (see the new chin-up training program) and dips with weight around our waist.

I know from personal experience that it is simply not easy to build a lot of muscle. It takes years of dedication and training roughly twice a week to build any kind of decent looking muscle.

After a year plus of training with weights again at the time of writing I definitely look very different, I have the beginnings of a muscular body, but am many years away from looking anything like a heavily muscled man. And the reality is that I will never look like that.

My genetics are average and although everyone can dramatically change how they look, the bottom line is that building  muscle is no easy thing. Although our book does give tips on how to get that killer body in the absolute shortest possible time-frame possible.

And for women it is even harder. The female body is simply not built to hold a lot of muscle mass.

Alexis now trains hard doing deadlifts, dips and flex hangs and dumbbell rows twice a week. The result?

She looks hot!

But she doesn’t look like a bodybuilder. She just has a great shape. No more Bingo Wings for her (sorry dear!). And this is what it takes to get a toned body. Not lifting pink neoprene dumbbells for high reps, as we shall now see. The bottom line is that women are simply not going to get big muscles by training hard, they just get the shape they are after when they think of having toned legs, a nice flat and toned set of abs, and tight arms with no flab that look slender and defined.

It is all possible, you can get a toned body, but you need to work out hard, infrequently, and lose weight to uncover what you have built up. Bottom line is women have to get stronger to get toned. This builds muscle.

Myth #2: You Should Use Light Weights For Toning

Let’s look at this totally logically. Whether you are a man or a woman it makes no difference. Should you use light weight to get toned?


Toned muscles are muscles that are shapely. And to make a muscle shapely we must stimulate it to grow. And for the muscle to actually show we need to know how to get lean. This means shedding excess bodyfat. Both of which myself and Alexis have now done very successfully.

And man does it feel good, to see the shape of your abs, rather then a protruding belly! But if we only do the dieting part of the equation, without building some shape to our muscles, then we are not going to look great once the excess weight has gone, and when we get our kit off!

We want to uncover something that looks stunning. And that means putting in the work.

For a muscle to grow it must be stimulated hard enough to elicit a response. If you use a light weight then the muscle has no reason to grow bigger. It can handle the weight you are using easily, thank you very much. So it will not grow in order to cope with the exercise.

Progressive overload is the absolute best way to make your muscles grow.

Anything else and you are just going through the motions and wasting your time.

This means that you must be adding weight to your exercises as often as you possibly can. You must try to use a heavier weight in your routine than you did in the previous one. This is what will elicit a response from your muscles. You train them hard and you train them with as heavy a weight as you can handle.

And your body will respond by growing to try to cope more easily with the weights that you are using. And the rep ranges for a set of an exercise need to be in the right range to get the right response, i.e. muscular growth.

Myth#3: You Should Use High Reps For Toning

This is a common misconception. And especially when it comes to training the abdominal muscles. For some reason it is now widely believed by many that if you use high reps then you tone the muscle and burn the fat from the area you are exercising.

It simply is not possible to do this. You cannot spot reduce fat. The unfortunate reality for nearly all of us is that our bellies are the first place we put on fat, and this means that this is the last area to lose the fat when we diet. So if you want to get toned abs you need to diet down until you are at the right bodyfat percentage. See the article on losing weight without losing muscle for more information on this.

And we cannot build our muscle size by using very high rep ranges. This is simply not the right signal to our muscles for them to grow. The resistance needs to be heavy,  and the best results in terms of building muscle are going to be achieved if you use a rep range somewhere between 6 and 20 reps. With 8-12 reps a set being optimal for a lot of people.

High reps in the hundreds are not going to make a muscle toned without growing, it either builds muscle or it doesn’t.

Myth #4: You Should Train Every Day

Here is another common idea that a lot of people have been led to believe by many exercise program sales peeps. Many programs that spring up nowadays seem to call for training every day.

I hate this personally.

For a start it is simply not realistic from a time point of view. Many people lead busy lives and cannot find the time to do some kind of insane workout for an hour plus every day of the week. It is not practical.

The best way to get toned muscles is to use weights that are heavy and elicit a growth response from the muscle, in order to cope more easily with the load they are put under.

And for this to happen they need to first recover from the work you have performed, and then be allowed time to grow a little as well. And training a muscle every day is not going to be long enough for this to happen.

The only way to know if your muscles are recovered is by using progressive overload. You aim to use a heavier weight for the same number of reps as you did for your previous workout. If you cannot increase the weights you used at least once a week on a relatively regular basis then you are not allowing your muscles to recover and grow.

For most people a training regime a maximum of 3 times a week is more than enough. In fact, in the Lean Ape Living book we don’t even recommend this amount of training once you are out of the beginners stage.

2 sessions, totaling an hour of total exercise a week, is more than sufficient to get your muscles toned and worked to the max

It allows you to build muscle in the most efficient way possible, and without it taking over your life.

The sad reality is that most people would get a much better looking body a lot quicker if they never trained more than twice a week, rather than up to six days a week as many programs suggest. If you look at the hours wasted by the majority of people it is a very sad state of affairs.

Never forget, that often less is more. As long as you put forth proper effort when you are exercising.

Before you ever begin any kind of exercise program that calls for such epic feats of commitment and exercise duration look very closely at just what their motives are. Is this a program for life? Or is this a way to get you involved repeatedly in the program, after the results fade from the initial induction? Are they trying to sell you more and more stuff? Time to walk away.

We really do need to take everything that we read and are told about exercise and nutrition with a massive pinch of cynicism. Things are not always as they seem.

Myth #5: You Should Do Cardio To Get Toned

I know that this is so deeply ingrained into many peoples psyches that it is hard to let go of this belief.

Does cardio get you toned?

To a degree it may. Any form of exercise is going to elicit a response from your body at first. The more sedentary that you have been then the more of a response you will get initially. Jogging, running, biking, etc are all going to give a positive response at first.

But the fact remains that this is not the most productive use of your time for getting a toned looking body, and it is certainly not the most efficient.

Do cardio if you enjoy it, not because you think it is the best way to get a hot toned body.

The best way to get a toned body is to exercise your major muscle groups with hard work. And that means lifting heavy things.

If you train for 30 minutes, 2 or 3 times a week, using compound movements that involve a lot of musculature then you are going to get results an awful lot better than using any kind of cardio based program.

A toned looking muscle really means a well developed muscle

And that means you must make it work hard a few times a week to force it to grow a little.

It may not be what you wanted to hear if you have been led to believe that cardio or light weights for high reps is the best way to get toned, but the reality is that a few brief sessions every week, where you use a heavy weight for reps around the 8-12 a set range is going to give you the best results possible.

You won’t get huge, women will get that toned look, and men will get a body that actually looks manly, and as if they lift heavy things.


Because that is exactly what they do.

If you take one thing and one thing only away with you from reading this article then please let it be this:

Lifting heavy weights, and trying to get stronger and stronger every time you exercise, is the absolute best way to get a toned look that will make you super sexy, and looking damn fine naked!


There have been a number of questions about what the best approach is to get toned so I think this article deserves a bit of an update. It is impossible to cover everything in depth here, it is why we wrote the Lean Ape book, but I can certainly give you the advice you need to get toned the right way. If you have any more questions please feel free to leave a comment at the end of the article.

It will be best done in a simple FAQ. First a little reminder:

how to get lean abs

How To Get Toned Legs For Men And Women?

The absolute best way to get toned legs for both sexes is to do relatively heavy leg work using compound movements. Combine this with getting down to a good body fat percentage and you will look stunning.

Either perform squats with weight, or perform deadlifts. Aim for a rep range of 15-20 for 2-3 sets, and always aim to add weight to the bar as often as possible.

How Long Does It Take To Get Toned?

You can actually see a huge difference in just a few weeks if you follow the right program. It means training with heavy weights, and for men and women. Females simply never get that blocky look as it is not in their genetic make-up to look like this. Heavy work with weights or body weight exercises is the secret to getting toned the fitness industry does not want you to know about.

Best Way To Get Toned Abs?

This is NOT what you probably believe, but the reality is that toned abs are created by performing a few compound exercises that work the whole body.


Because they mean you have to be very stable at your core. By performing the exercises we recommend you will get a toned body overall, and this means the abs too. You DO NOT need to do direct ab exercises to get a toned set of abs. You need to work your whole body so that your stomach muscles stabilize your body.

Then get lean enough to show them off. This is the truth, don’t let anyone persuade you otherwise. I never do ab work, you don’t need it.

Can Women Really Get Toned?


And the myth that you need to ignore is that you should train differently to men. You don’t. Everyone needs to do a short intense workout with heavy resistance a few times a week. This is how women really get toned bodies. No amount of cardio or working with light weights will ever get you properly toned.

You train hard, eat right to get lean enough, and look damn hot.

It takes 60 minutes a week, that’s it. IF you do it right.

Where’s my barbell?

Your comments are very welcome, I know for many people this goes against what they have been led to believe. Resistance, or hard body weight training, is not just for bodybuilders, it is the absolute best way bar none to get a toned body in the shortest possible time-frame.

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