This is one of the most widely-used phrases or terms thrown around by people either trying to get fit, or to be honest, "Coaches" and personal trainers sharing their thoughts and opinions on how to get that defined look:
Nearly everybody wants to get "toned." To be honest, I'm not exactly sure what this phrase is referring to, and I don't think there is one universal meaning to it since it gets used so wildly, but I would guess that it means that an individual wishes to minimize their body fat percentage in order for their muscles to become more defined. As discussed, in order to lose weight of any kind, you must consume at a caloric deficit. In other words, you must eat/drink less than you burn on an average day.
It should be noted, however, that when you are losing weight, your weight loss averages around 75% body fat and 25% lean mass. In other words, for every 10 pounds you lose, you are losing 7.5lbs of body fat and 2.5lbs of muscle. Resistance training is an effective way to counteract this atrophy during weight loss. It is interesting to note that diet-only weight loss plans, although effective, can also greatly diminish one's lean mass and strength. Think of an individual who loses 50lbs total, that means they are losing around 12.5lbs of muscle!
Resistance training during weight loss sends a message to your body to reserve the lean mass you currently have. Having said that, a well-rounded resistance training program that trains as many muscles as possible, preferably through multi-joint, multi-muscle group actions, is ideal to reserve as much muscle as possible. Runners who train for a marathon, for example, may lose much of their upper body muscle due to restricted upper body strength training. Remember: "use it or lose it!"
Tyler Robbins B.Sc. CSCS
Director of Fitness
Head of CrossFit