In fitness goals, there’s something for everyone’s taste and purpose. On the one hand, you have more down-to-earth plans such as losing weight, recovering after surgery or simply ageing gracefully. On the other hand, another prevalent fitness goal is getting stronger. However, as you delve deeper into your strength-building regimen, you’ll meet the terms bulking and toning.
But what lies beneath these fitness buzzwords? What is the bulking season? How does one get toned specifically? To avoid misconceptions and help you on your fitness journey, let’s unravel the definitions of bulking and toning and what’s different between these two methods.
What is bulking?
As its name indicates, bulking is a bodybuilding phase focused on purposefully increasing muscle mass and total body weight. Usually, during this stage, individuals look to grow their muscle size and strength. But how do they do that?
- Caloric surplus: If your goal is to grow, you must consume more calories. Data suggests that 10 to 20% more calorie intake can do the job. These extra calories will also provide the necessary energy for this endeavour.
- Lift heavy: Heavyweights are the basis of a bulking regimen. Ideally, you should lift heavier weights and do lower reps to stimulate muscle growth — also known as hypertrophy.
- Good rest: By now, you know that to build muscle, you must allow it to repair and grow. Adequate rest and recovery play an essential role in bulking.
- Well-rounded diet: calorie surplus is essential for bulking, but you must prioritise a well-balanced diet with an adequate protein intake for muscle repair and growth.
What is toning?
Toning, on the other hand, is about achieving a leaner physique. To develop muscle in general, you need to lose fat. Toning involves reducing body fat while maintaining or slightly increasing muscle mass. Therefore, this process precedes bulking. So, how do you get toned?
- Caloric deficit: Unlike bulking, toning requires consuming fewer calories than your body burns. According to WebMD, maintaining a daily calorie deficit of 500 calories is a dependable and healthy approach to weight loss. That means between 1,200 to 1,500 calories for women and 1,500 to 1,800 for men.
- More cardio: Although not exclusive, since both strength and functional training can also help you lose weight, cardio has a more significant presence during the toning phase. Running, cycling, or swimming are all great options.
- More reps, less weight: As opposed to bulking season, you should focus on exercises performed with lighter weights and higher reps. These will lead to muscle toning and muscular endurance.
- Hydration is fundamental: Maintaining a caloric deficit is more challenging than it may appear. Staying hydrated not only helps you feel fuller but is also essential for supporting metabolism and overall health.
Which one is better for me? And are these for everyone?
There isn’t a definitive better choice; it hinges on your specific fitness objectives. Concentrate on the one that aligns more with your goals because, as evident, both are entirely achievable. There isn’t also a secret formula. As it happens with most routines, staying committed is the essential part.