This was my answer to a question about toning, that I have decided to turn into a guide. This post will address a very overused, and misunderstood concept in the fitness world, yep it's time to bury "toning" in a shallow ditch somewhere, and learn how to actually look good.
The first point to be made aware of is that there is no such thing as "toning" or "firming" the body or individual body parts through specific exercises. Toning is a concept/phrase that was created by the fitness industry to try to alleviate womens irrational fear that they will look like Ronnie Coleman if they exert even the smallest amount of effort under a barbell or set of dumbells.
Let me make it clear, you will not inflate into a bodybuilder if you weight train, that takes years of highly specific training, nutrition and testosterone.
What people usually call a "toned" appearance, such as in the attached image, is achieved by lowering body fat % to a reasonable level through diet and exercise, and very importantly, weight training to build shapely muscles underneath.
Don't be scared of weight training exercises such as a front or back squats, shoulder press, bench press and deadlifts. But you should stick to these compound movements (those that work loads of muscles at the same time and make you work hard) and avoid bodybuilding style isolation moves (those that isolate and target individual muscles to exhaustion), such as the leg extension/curl, bicep curls, tricep extensions.
I really hope the women of Tribesports find this helpful, and have now seen the light and will not avoid weight training like the plague. Good luck!