How Can You Tell if Your Muscles Are Toning?

"Mirror, mirror on the wall, who has most muscle tone of all?"
i George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images

No matter how much you huff and puff when lifting weights, you'll never see muscle tone and definition if you have excess fat on your body and eat doughnuts all day long. You'll be more successful if you eat a sensible diet and also include regular cardio in your routine. Burning fat and stimulating muscle tissue is a win-win combination. If you don't believe this, there are various ways to check whether your muscles are toning.

    Step 1

    Remove your clothes and look in the mirror; if your workout routine is effective, you'll be able to see your muscles in the mirror. At first, you might not notice much of a change because of the excess fat that might still be covering your muscles, but as you burn fat, you'll gradually be able to see more of the outline of your toned muscles.

    Step 2

    Rub your hands over the areas you've been working. If it feels firmer than it did before you started exercising, you're developing muscle tone, because muscle feels firmer than fat, even when it's not contracted. The more your workout progresses and fat reduces, the more you'll be able to feel your toned muscles.

    Step 3

    Put on a pair of pants that fit comfortably before you start your exercise routine. Those same pants might now seem too big in size, because your toned muscles take up less space than the fat that was previously filling your pants.

    Step 4

    Measure the circumference of the areas you want to tone with a flexible measuring tape before starting your exercise routine. Once you're well into your routine, measure these areas again to ensure your routine is effective. You might notice that the circumference has reduced, because muscle is denser than fat.

    Step 5

    Determine how much lean muscle tissue you have before and during your quest for a toned body. Use a skinfold caliper to measure the skinfolds of your chest, thigh and abdomen in millimeters. Enter the measurements in a body fat calculator to determine your body fat percentage. Multiply your weight in pounds by this percentage. Subtract your answer from your weight in pounds to determine how many pounds of lean body mass you have. If your lean body mass is equal to or higher than before you started exercising, you're losing fat, which makes it more likely that your muscles are toned and more visible.


    • Snap pictures of your body every week so you can see your body changing and muscle tone developing. Taking pictures also allows you to catch negative factors, such as weight gain, early on so you can nip it in the bud.


    • Check in with your health care practitioner before beginning a new exercise routine.

    Things You'll Need

    • Old pair of pants

    • Skinfold caliper

    • Flexible measuring tape

the nest