Toning – The Elusive Body and How I Unlocked It

by:Vu Nguyen April 19, 2017

How I Achieved Tone

So often I hear people, specifically women, say they want to be “toned” – that’s being a lean body with defined muscles. I always wondered how this could be achieved. Being toned never sounded attainable for me because it was so rare to meet someone with a toned body they were happy with. About 6 months ago I set out to achieve this goal of getting “toned” and I FINALLY did it! Almost everyday someone comments on how toned I am, specifically my arms. While I appreciate the compliments, this is usually followed up with the question of how I was able to make this happen. So here it is.


Toning can be achieve through functional movements such as lunges.

Toning can be achieve through functional movements such as squats.My workouts consist of full body, compound movements and functional training. In addition to developing strength, functional training also leads to great improvements in muscular coordination and balance as it consists of movements that you use every day, allowing you to train your movements rather than specific muscles. Examples of these workouts include burpees, push-ups, and squats, just to name a few. (Left – an example of a resisted back lunge being performed on the Evolution – a great example of a functional/compound movement.)

Full body workouts are compound and therefore work multiple muscle groups at the same time giving you the most effective workout while building your core strength. The outcome is a full body tone that ultimately makes me a leaner individual. As a rule of thumb, I ensure that the majority of my movements have at least one of the 6 Fundamental Movements – squat, lunge, hinge, push, pull and rotate. If I do include isolated workouts, I make sure to use them as a supplement to a complete program instead of being the focus of the program. (Right – these two photos represent my progress after I began functional training.)

What I DON’T Do

It’s also important to talk about what I DON’T do. Like most people, I don’t have an unlimited amount of time in my day to workout. As such, I plan my workouts to be as efficient and/or effective as possible. I tend to stray away from isolated exercises – movements that target only one muscle group at a time. Some examples of isolated workouts include bicep curls, triceps extensions, and calf raises. This comes as a surprise to most as these exercises are some of the most traditional and common ones, and are known to be very effective. Now, I’m not saying these aren’t effective, but they aren’t the most time-effective way to burn fat, tone your body and maximize your core strength.

Wrapping it up

I went to the gym for 2 years before I started training like this and never saw a significant change in tone. I covered all my bases with isolated movements but it didn’t do much for me and I wasn’t able to burn fat as quickly. Switching to a more efficient, full-body workout is my secret to getting the tone I have today.