I Just Wanna Tone….

When I am interviewing a female potential client it makes me cringe every time I hear it.  In fact I have been doing this long enough now that I can even predict when they are about to say it.  My whole body tenses up, I just try to go to my happy place and get through it one more time.

pink-dumbbells-900x900Why is it that women think if they even look at a weight that isn’t covered in pink vinyl that they will instantly be ready to compete for next year’s Ms. Olympia?  There are women that spend their whole life in that pursuit, and never approach that level.  Not to mention that they are missing one key ingredient.  TESTOSTERONE!!  On average men have 20X more testosterone than women.  This is why men gain muscle mass much more easily than women.  And I hate to break it to you, but that is also why female bodybuilders carry so much muscle.  Without chemically altering their hormones women cannot achieve that level of musculature.

You know whenever I hear these objections it is honestly all I can do not to laugh.  This is comparable to a male client telling me, “I don’t wanna lift too heavy because I don’t wanna turn into Albert Puljos or Alex Rodriguez”.  The average female does not possess the genetic, the drugs, work ethic, or free time to get “that big”.  Let’s be honest here, to get to that level of musculature you would have to sleep, eat, ad train like it was your job for years.  Why would someone that can barely make it to the gym twice a week consistently be concerned with that happening?  See why it’s hard not to laugh?!


Basically when a woman says “I don’t want to lift heavy…I just want to TONE”.  What I hear is, “I want to get results, but I don’t want to work too hard at it”.  It also means, “I don’t want any of these people to see me sweat because that would be embarrassing, and I value these strangers opinion of me”.  Ok…Ok….that last part might be an exaggeration, but you get my point.

Another point that most women fail to realize is that “bulking up” is dependent on their caloric intake.  I don’t care what your genetics, work ethic, or even drugs….there is no way you will get HUGE washing down garden salads with slim fast shakes.  It is mathematically impossible.  Maybe that is why some women eat like rabbits as it is….for fear that they might brush up against a 45lb plate in the gym and gain 20lbs of muscle.  If only it were that easy.  But then again..if it were that easy I would be out of  a job.

The tone they are looking for is what happens when you remove the layer of fat that is covering the muscle you have worked to develop.  Whenever you “diet” your body is in a caloric deficit.  You are hoping that this will cause your body to burn fat.  The thing is you body interprets this as starvation, and it goes into survival mode.  In survival mode…which do you think your body wants to burn…fat that it can save for emergency, or muscle mass that causes it work harder to maintain?


If you think of your body as a car….to meet the new demand you are placing on it would the computer burn more gas (fat) or start shutting down cylinders (muscle) essentially turning your Mustang into a Smart Car.  That is why it is important that you give your body a reason to maintain or even increase muscle mass.  The way to do that is through STRENGTH TRAINING!  And even for women that means lifting heavy.  If you condition your body to expect you to lift heavy things on a regular basis then it will deem your muscle as important, and it will find its fuel source somewhere….more than likely in your “problem areas”.

In this day and age where women can do anything, even vote, why is it that they (most) think they have to train differently from men?  If they already have lack of testosterone in place as a limiting factor then why would they think they can reach their goals with less work?  For the most part I train female clients the same way as male clients.  Why?  Because it is what works.  Because of this my female clients always hate me more than my male clients, and I am ok with that.  In the end they get the results they want, even if I have to drag them there kicking and screaming.

Equal work for equal pay right?!  I’m all for that, but then I don’t think there should be separate tees on the golf course…..we’re all equal right?!  That means equal work in the gym for equal results.  If women want to tone they need to lift heavy to get it.  Here is a program that might interest you, and get you past your fear of lifting heavy weights.  “Strong is the New Beautiful”




  1. Candy

    Thanks for this. I don't want to be a muscular woman I want to trim the fat. My legs and hips are the fastest to get in really good shape but my arms are so weak and never seem to tone. And my midsection, yikes. I am signing up at the fitness center at my college and at two days a week will be trying to sweat it out!

  2. Tammy

    I just had to laugh when I read this. My weights are grey, not pink. I'm not worried about just "toning up." I am concerned about building up strength. I knew about the testosterone, too. You have to love the difference between men and women.

  3. Shawn Ann

    Great post! It is funny how women will automatically think they will get big if they lift a little weight. I need to get back into my routine, gotta work on slimming myself a little and toning up.

  4. Sue

    I LOVE BEING STRONG!!! I love PRing and seeing MY weight #s increase!! To know that my inner strength is increasing and its toning me and supporting my body…and keeping me going thru out the day…is awesome!!! Keep adding those bumper plates…I'll throw it up!!! And in no means am I huge!! I am loving myself!!! 🙂

  5. Don

    Candy, women natural develop lower body strength faster than upper body…stick with it. And whenever we "trim the fat" the body works from the outside in….so the midsection will be the last thing to go.

    Tammy thanks for the comment, glad to hear you are on the right track.

    Shawn Ann thanks…it never ceases to amaze me that much of the knowledge that I take for granted is still misunderstood by the general public.

    Sue…You are amazing. Every woman reading this please visit Sue's blog, you will find all the inspiration you need to get the job done. Read her story and you will realize how ridiculous your excuses are….


  6. Skinny Minnie

    Great comments…. but to the stupid people like me … what does "PRing" mean ?

  7. Don

    Not really a stupid question, it's just lifter lingo. A PR is a Personal Record. PRing means breaking records, and puttin up bigger numbers. Good times.



  1. 131018 – Push Press, Wt. Pull-ups, Groundhog Fran | CrossFit Regina - […] “I Just Wanna Tone” Article for women; Link to Mammoth […]

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