Bulking vs. Toning: How Should You Lift?

Are you planning to bulk up or tone up your body in the gym by lifting weights? Then, you are in the right place to get the correct information about bulking and toning your body. You can add lifting weights to your workout routine for trimming down, toning up, and building strength. To achieve your fitness goals, you can also take guidance from a certified trainer to lead you to success.

Read further to know more about bulking and toning your body and how you should lift for the same. Let’s begin with understanding the concepts of bulking and toning.



When we talk about bulking, it commonly involves increasing muscle mass and body weight through regular exercise and calorie intake. People want to bulk up range from practicing CrossFit to preparing for a bodybuilding competition. To understand how to bulk up, you must first understand the science of muscle growth. Your body needs enough fuel and energy to build and repair muscles. So, you must maintain a healthy diet and undergo training to bulk up. For bulking up, you must add clean calories into your body to support the exercise routine to add muscle, not fat.

Feeding your muscles with the extra protein is essential for bulking up. You may consult a dietitian or a nutritionist to guide you with the proper diet for bulking up. You can lift heavier weights for bulking up than you will lift for expected health benefits. So the combination of heavy weights and a proper diet that includes higher protein and higher calories is best for bulking up.



When we talk about toning, our common idea is to shred fat and get leaner muscles in proper shape. Many people join gym or workout groups intending to tone up their bodies. However, before starting any exercise, you must understand what you need to do to tone your body. A combination of fat-burning workouts and essential weightlifting will give you more defined muscles. The common idea is lifting lighter weights and doing more reps for toning. Regarding diet, you need to follow a lower caloric maintenance level for toning up.

You need to shed the layers of fat that hide your muscle to get the toned look. Strength training and cardio are equally important to achieve the goal of toning up your body. As the muscle requires lesser space in your body than fat, toning up will slim you down. Higher repetitions with light to medium weights are commonly used for toning up.


Bulking vs. Toning

Bulking up and toning up are the two most common terms associated with weight lifting. Even though these terms are used interchangeably, they are different in meaning and achieved in various manners. Toning up refers to reducing the body fat by tightening up your muscles and giving them shape. Bulking up refers to increasing muscle mass and making the muscles bigger. For achieving a perfectly toned look, you need to follow a calorie deficit diet, whereas for bulking up, you must follow a calorie surplus diet.


How Should You Lift for Bulking and Toning?

Both toning up and bulking up will require you to lift some weight. For toning up your muscles, use light to medium weights and lift them 12 to 15 times consecutively. Depending on your fitness level and the total number of exercises, try to complete one to three sets. If you are a beginner and want to tone up your body, follow this routine – two to three full-body weightlifting sessions with five to six different exercises.

On the other hand, if you are willing to bulk up, you have to lift heavy weights for a lower number of repetitions per set. This will make sure that your muscles are made to work harder with an overload. To get more robust and experience a visible difference in your muscle mass, you have to increase the weight, sets, and reps during your workout.

If you have specific fitness goals such as bulking or toning, follow the above hints to reach your goals. If you are also interested to become a certified trainer, nutritionist, or dietitian and helping others achieve their goals, contact American Sports & Fitness Association for certification programs.


Bulking vs. Toning: How Should You Lift?
Back to blog