2) My goal for the resistance training part of my workouts (I do cardio, too) is to stay toned and to keep my bones strong as I age. (I'm in my mid 40s). I've been told that the best way to train for toning purposes is to lift lighter weights with more repetitions. But gym instructors always seem to stress lifting progressively heavier weights. Is that always necessary?

ask the trainer, jim beatty

While progress is a must, progress does not always mean lifting heavier weights, as there are many exercise variables to adjust. Some of these variables include the amount of weight or resistance, the exercises and their order, the number of sets and repetitions, the speed of the movements, and the amount of rest we take. We can manipulate these variables to create a more challenging workout, without picking up heavier weights.


In your workouts, you should be using a weight that will challenge you to reach between 15-20 reps in perfect form. You will also want to keep your rest periods between sets and exercises pretty short (10-20 seconds). This will not only provide a different and more challenging stimulus for your muscles, but the quickened pace will have your heart and lungs working harder too, resulting in a more complete and efficient workout. Also, be sure to stand up for at least some of your strength exercises, as vertically loading the skeleton is the best way to bring about strong bones.


With having an understanding of how to adjust exercise variables, and a mind set on making progress will come muscle quality or tone. (Tone is defined as the amount of tension on a muscle when it's at rest). Be aware not to confuse tone with definition. In order to see your toned muscles body fat levels must be in a healthy range, so be sure and eat a balanced diet.


Exercise can help, but no exercise can undo unhealthy eating.