As a strength and conditioning professional, I often have to explain the concept of muscle tone and why it is often a concern for women.
Muscle tone refers to the degree of tension or firmness that is present in a muscle at rest. It is the amount of resistance a muscle offers when it is passively stretched or compressed. A muscle with good tone is firm, but not tense or rigid, and appears well-defined. Good muscle tone is often associated with a lean, athletic physique.
Many women express a desire for good muscle tone, as it is often associated with a fit and healthy body. However, the concept of muscle tone can be misunderstood. Some people believe that muscle tone refers to the amount of muscle mass, but this is not entirely accurate. Muscle mass refers to the amount of muscle tissue in the body, whereas muscle tone refers to the level of tension in the muscle.
Research has shown that women tend to have lower levels of muscle mass and strength compared to men due to physiological differences such as hormonal balance, muscle fiber composition, and body size (1, 2). Women also tend to carry more body fat than men, which can make it more difficult to see muscle definition (3).
However, this does not mean that women cannot achieve good muscle tone. Resistance training, such as weight lifting, is an effective way to increase muscle tone in women. Regular resistance training can help women build and maintain muscle mass, which can lead to improved muscle tone and definition (4).
In addition to resistance training, nutrition also plays an important role in achieving good muscle tone. Adequate protein intake is essential for muscle growth and repair (5). Women who are looking to increase muscle tone should aim to consume a balanced diet that includes plenty of protein, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats.
When questioned by your friends remember this, muscle tone refers to the degree of tension or firmness in a muscle at rest. Women tend to have lower levels of muscle mass and strength compared to men, but they can still achieve good muscle tone through resistance training and proper nutrition. Understanding the concept of muscle tone and how to achieve it can help women achieve their fitness goals and improve their overall health and wellbeing.
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Schoenfeld, B. J. (2010). The mechanisms of muscle hypertrophy and their application to resistance training. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 24(10), 2857-2872.
Schoenfeld, B. J., Peterson, M. D., Ogborn, D., Contreras, B., & Sonmez, G. T. (2015). Effects of low-vs. high-load resistance training on muscle strength and hypertrophy in well-trained men. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 29(10), 2954-2963.
Lammert, O., & Grigat, R. (2012). Women and body fat composition: current status and future directions. Collegium Antropologicum, 36(1), 147-153.
American College of Sports Medicine. (2014). ACSM's guidelines for exercise testing and prescription (9th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
Phillips, S. M. (2014). A brief review of higher dietary protein diets in weight loss: a focus on athletes. Sports Medicine, 44(Suppl 2), 149-153.