The Rack Athletic Performance Center

1824 Briarwood Industrial Crt. NE STE 2
Atlanta, GA 30329


Mon - Fri: 5:30am-7:00pm

Sat - Sun: 9:00am-3:00pm


$20 Day Pass

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What "getting toned" actually means

April 30, 2017

I've coached several ladies to their goal of getting more toned but they've all had different views of what that actually means. Toning a specific area of your body just doesn't exist. You either gain more muscle in an area or you don't. You either have fat over the muscle or you don't. For a part of your body to become defined, the fat has to be stripped away all over the body and the muscle you're trying to "define" has to grow. However, I think a lot of people just have a different view of what toned means. It might mean losing a significant amount of weight, losing fat while gaining muscle, getting stronger, strictly gaining more muscle, or other goals. Ultimately, the term makes most coaches as well as myself cringe because its inherently wrong just like when people say they want to target fat around a specific body part. Yet here I am using the term "toned" so that I can play devil's advocate and set you up to reaching the goals you want. So, I'm assuming that toned means you want to look better (lose fat/gain muscle), feel better, and get strong. If this is the case, why are so many people doing the wrong things to achieve that? 


Here's the key:

1. Lift weight and get your heart pumping (heavy and often)

2. Eat a balanced diet (including avoiding alcohol and eating out)

3. Recover/Sleep


There’s a reason why Kate Upton moves 200lb on barbell hip thrusters (see picture below - Insta: @kateupton) in personal training with Ben Bruno and why Victoria’s Secret models spend over an hour a day strength training with Justin Gelband. 

Now, you might be thinking to yourself – “Coach John, I’ve always heard that lifting weights makes you get bulky and look like a guy.” To address this statement, I have to admit that someone has hidden the truth from you. Not out of spite but because whoever told you just didn’t know. Girls and guys function very differently. The most apparent is testosterone production. I’m sorry ladies, but its hard for you to gain a significant amount of muscle mass because you don’t have an abundant access to this anabolic hormone like guys do, so I can assure you that you will not gain a lot of muscle unless you really really want it. Female bodybuilders spend a lot of time and money and they diet to develop a large muscular frame. For them that’s their goal. You will not look like a bodybuilder if you lift weight, but you will look more defined, feel healthy, get stronger, and become much more confident.


In discussing muscular bulk, do you know what’s more bulky than muscle? Fat. If you had 5 lb of fat and 5 lb of muscle side by side, the fat would be significantly larger (see photo below).


When you begin lifting weights coupled with proper conditioning, body composition starts to change and fat loss speeds up – especially with a healthy balanced diet. So as you gain muscle but weight stays the same, fat loss is making you smaller while the newly developed muscle helps give you the “toned” appearance you’re wanting! Muscle also gives pretty awesome qualities like making everything perkier through tightness, building visible definition, and getting you strong AF when the right program is implemented. In terms of length of a program to see results? You should start seeing some pretty cool changes right around 6 to 8 weeks or even sooner. I thought it might be a cool idea for you to see what some girls that excel in the weight room look like inside and outside of the gym. Another cool part of lifting? IT’S FUN. Most of the girls I've coached have ended up building a lifting obsession because they've become empowered through visible success, got out of it what they put into it, and learned how to conquer. 


Here are some pictures for you to see what competitive athletes that are lifting look like and you can do it too!




Mattie Rogers – 69kg Female Olympic Weightlifter    

Insta: @mattiecakesssss




Camille Brown – Female Olympic Weightlifter     

Insta: @camille4wildcat




Jessica Lucero – Female Olympic Weightlifter    

Insta: @jessicalucero9




Heather Connor – Female 47kg Powerlifter    

Insta: @stayfit_with_heather




Christmas Abbott – Female CrossFit Competitor    

Insta: @christmasabbott





Lauren Drain Kagan – Fitness Model    

Insta: @laurendrainfit


So as you can tell, lifting weights does not necessarily equal a manly figure. In fact, I dare say it can yield the exact opposite and highlight your features in the best ways! It will make you strong, confident, and help build the figure you hope to have. Now once you’re ready to take the next step toward getting a strong and fit body, come visit me at The Rack Athletic Performance Center and we’ll make it happen by creating a specific program for you and guiding you every step of the way to your goals. Feel free to email me at if you have any questions.

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