The number one fitness question I get from women is, “How do I tone up without bulking up?” My response has always been the same….weight training. Weight or strength training is as important in a fitness routine as cardio vascular training and nutrition. The most effective way to achieve your fitness goals is to have a balance of aerobic workouts and a proper dose of strength training. Weight training is a key component of overall health and fitness. The “bulking up” theory caused by strength training is a myth. With a regular strength training program like P90X, you can reduce your body fat, increase your lean muscle mass and burn calories more efficiently. If your overall fitness goal is to tone up your body, fit better in your clothes or increase your fitness level, a program like P90X is an excellent choice. Some things you do need to know before you start are; most weight training programs are not necessarily a weight lose program, muscle depletes as we age and “toning up” results in a change in your size and not always on the scale.

Most women confuse the idea of weight lose with toning up the body that they already have. What can you really expect with a weight training program like P90X? By training with weights at least twice a week to tone up lean muscle mass, you are ultimately melting flab away. Those two sessions a week can reduce overall body fat by about 3 percentage points in just 10 weeks, even if you don’t cut a single calorie. That translates to as much as three inches total off your waist and hips. That new muscle pays off down the road by boosting your metabolism, which helps keep your body lean and sculpted. Don’t get me wrong, aerobic training is an effective way to burn fat cells. The key is balance. Over training on the treadmill will only result in a smaller version of yourself. Flabby not fit. In my post P90X for Women, I go into detail about P90X. After my first round with P90X, I only lost 12 pounds but my pants size dropped two sizes. I lost 2 inches off my waist, 1 inch off each thigh and 1/2 inch off each arm. My clothes fit looser and there was a lot less ‘jiggle’ in my wave.

One fact we can’t deny is that we are all aging. Our metabolism slows down. The elasticity in our skin decreases. And yes we begin to lose the perkiness of our muscle tone. You know the saying, “Use it or lose it.” Well, it applies to our muscles too. Research shows we retain most of our muscle strength until about age 45, and then we gradually lose about 40 percent of our muscle strength and size.Losing muscle mass can mean more than losing that put-together look. It can make the normal functions of daily living more difficult. A short walk, getting up from a chair, or carrying groceries becomes a major chore. The experts tells us that most of our muscle loss occurs because we stop doing active things that require muscle power, not because we age. The good news is that regardless of age, you can strengthen your muscles by putting them to use. No matter where you are at now. Whether you have started and stopped or never started a weight training program, it is not too late to begin.

Here is my biggest secret and best advise, Lose the Scale. A women weighing 95 pounds of fat will appear much different than a woman made of 95 of lean muscle. On the scale the numbers may register the same. The fact is 5 pounds of lean muscle mass takes up 1/2 the space of 5 pounds of fat. Remember those jeans you loved in high school? Or that black dress you could barely zip up? It isn’t the pounds you put into them, its the bulk or volume of your body.

If changing the overall appearance of your body is your ultimate goal, focus more on toning the lean muscle mass in your body. This is the best way to to achieve that fit look. In turn that lean muscle will replace the fat keeping your body looking and feeling young. Weight training programs are designed to tone up muscles and are not weight loss programs per say. However, a woman will see changes in her body and overall appearance. After toning your muscles, a cardio intense program like Insanity or TurboFire may aide in burning additional fat cells. However, these programs may work in reverse. Just as a weight training program is not meant to promote weight loss, most of the time weight loss is a positive side-effect, these programs are not designed to promote muscle toning.

The key to shrinking your body volume is knowing your nutritional needs, having a strong support system and balancing weight lose with weight training. Building those lean muscles will help shrink your size.