I see many women in the gym ‘toning’ their bodies with little pink weights for hundreds of reps accumulated over an hour long workout. I just wonder why don’t they just jump on the tread mill and spend the hour there. I mean why delude yourself that you are weight training when you really are doing aerobic style workouts. Just to make it clear weight training is a weight bearing exercise that requires anaerobic pathways of energy breakdown which happens when you lift heavy for a few reps. Weight training shouldn’t make you go out of breath and panting for air. This is not the mode that builds muscle. For building muscle you need to lift heavy enough to perform the full range of motion for 10-15 reps and no more. If you are able to do a 16th rep, then you need to increase the weight.
A concern I hear from women (and many men) is that they don’t want to ‘bulk-up’ by lifting heavy. To address this I would say that women don’t have near as much testosterone as men do, to really bulk up. Testosterone is the hormone that burns fat and builds muscle and is responsible for sex drive in men (and women). This is why men are leaner than women and this is why teenagers (both boys and girls) lose baby fat as they enter puberty. And weight training has shown to boost the production of both, testosterone and human growth hormone (HGH). So even for women a little extra testosterone is a good thing as it burns fat and builds muscle (which burns even more fat). And HGH has been shown to be essential to prevent many age related degenerative diseases. Recently it has also been shown that intense weight training also increases insulin sensitivity that can prevent the onset of type II diabetes. So you see there are benefits beyond the obvious when you weight train. So if you really want to tone your body, weight train with the right amount of weight for 10-15 reps and if possible do compound movements that involve multiple joints (squats, lunges, dead lifts, bench press, lat pull-downs etc). Having one extra pound of muscle will burn 35 extra calories a day which may not sound like much but will add up to 12775 calories in a year or 3.5 lbs of fat burned. So imagine this! If you have 10 extra lbs of muscle, its equivalent to running for half hour (or 3 miles) every day, 365 days a year even when you are just watching TV. So what would you take, and extra 10 lbs of muscle (traded for fat) or running 3 miles everyday all year around? Its a no-brainer, eh! So even though aerobics has certain cardio vascular conditioning advantage it comes nowhere near weight training for permanently boosting your metabolism and building that firm toned body that you always dreamed of. So dunk those pretty little pink weights and lift real weights instead. And don’t worry you will never look like those anabolic steroid freaks you see on the cover of magazines like muscle and fitness. No woman (or man) can achieve that kind of muscularity and definition without relying on synthetic testosterone derivatives. Also remember muscle is denser than fat so a 110lb woman with 15% body fat will be trimmer and better toned than a 110lb woman with 25% body fat!