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It is unfortunate to see how many females who fear muscle end up detouring their progress in what should be a relatively easy goal, “toning”.

I’ve always found it ironic when I read fitness magazines or hear trainers tell women you can’t build big muscles because you don’t produce as much testosterone as a man (which is true) but then paradoxically say to just use low weight and high reps or go for the burn! 

Why would it matter if women lift heavy weights and low reps if we don’t have the hormones to produce big muscles? Why do “fitness experts” contradict themselves and perpetuate these toning myths? Perhaps they are scared to prescribe heavy weights and low reps because they are misinformed on “toning”?

Here’s what females must understand about muscle toning if they ever want TRULY toned, defined and sexy curves:

female fitness tips

Relying on low weight and high reps results in spending years trying to achieve what a few months of heavier weight and low reps could potentially bring if the weights were progressed up at a gradual level!

The entire, “Drop the weights and go for a burn…” advice is complete nonsense! Here’s why:

There are two types of muscle tone. 

Myogenic muscle tone and neurogenic muscle tone. You need both for a sexy,hard and defined looking body.

female fitness tips

Myogenic tone can be defined as residual tension in a resting muscle. What this really means is how hard, full and dense your muscles are at rest.  An increase in myogenic tone is a permanent increase in the appearance of your muscles. Myogenic tone is affected by the density of your muscles and is improved by stimulation of the contractile proteins using a moderately heavy loads and moderately lower rep training workouts. [i.e. reps in the 8-12 and 13-15 range]

Neurogenic tone refers to the level of tension in a muscle in a working or flexed state. That is how “hard” a muscle is when you are training it or just flexing it. It refers to muscle tone that is expressed when movements occur (like when you extend your arms to point). Neurogenic tone is improved due to the effect lower rep training [i.e. less than 7 reps] has on improving the efficiency of your central nervous system.

Heavy weight training for women increases your myogenic tone through the hypertrophy (growth) of the contractile proteins myosin and actin (myosin and actin are by far the most dense components of skeletal muscle).

Lower rep training with heavier weights is by far the best way to get a lean, defined and tight body. This type of training will increase the sensitivity of alpha and gamma motor neurons, thus increasing neurogenic tone when conducting even the simplest of movements (i.e. walking, extending your arm to point, etc).

Training with heavy weights improves both myogenic and neurogenic tone.  When a body is stripped of much of its fat, muscle density and hardness go a long way to enhancing the attractiveness of one’s physique!  If your goal is to have a lean, sexy and defined looking body, then incorporating training with heavy weights and low reps is the next (and best) step to set yourself up for an amazing body.

Need proof?

Have you ever seen a women in the gym or in a magazine with defined arms?  Toned shoulders?  Sculpted calves?  Trim thighs?  The way their bodies are sleek and curved is easy to achieve once you drop the “drop the weights and go for the burn” nonsense and begin working out with some heavier weights and lower reps — this is the best way to lean, hard and strong, but not big!  As long as you manage your calories, there is no fear in getting big. Remember, muscles grow on calories so as long as you don’t start eating like a bodybuilder, you will never come close to looking like one (thank goodness)!

female fitness tips

The body on the left can be achieved by starving yourself and avoiding weights. Easy!
The body on the right can be achieved by gradually increasing the intensity of your weight lifting workouts!

Now that you can see a difference between myogenic tone and neurogenic tone it’s time to use this information to go from ordinary to extraordinary and Curveless to Curvalicious!

The long-awaited Curvalicious Body SculptingSystem for women that promises toned, defined and sexy curves goes live on Monday May 21st!

Questions or comments? Fire away!

Join the discussion 40 Comments

  • Wanjiku ngugi says:

    Hi flavia,thanks for the info. I like working with heavy weights,low reps but i fear i wont achieve my goals . Your article has convinced me otherwise

  • Raquel says:

    Flavia! just great! you are amazing!!! until today i can see im reaching my goals and my body looks much much better and im feeling so strong!!! its amazing!!! really interesting in all the science beyond all this issue! kind regards from Barcelona!

  • Michael says:

    Hey Flavia, I’m writing for my girlfriend who is Japanese (we spoke last week). As you know she LOVES your program. She’s naturally very athletic… and is worried her arms are already as big as she wants them (after a few years of weight training). Being Asian, the kind of arms in the athletic girls picture above is not what she wants at all – but she is fairly close. Should she just stop increasing her weights as she gets stronger to maintain what she has?

    She’s really working hard on her legs, butt, and abs… she doesn’t really go to failure each workout on any set, except the last set of each exercise is full failure or 1 rep away. But she does track every workout and increase her reps / weight EVERY workout – so she is progressing. Is this all that is needed? I’ve heard from many top training pros (like Alwyn Cosgrove) that going to failure every workout is not helpful, and it’s better to stop 1-2 reps before failure, but always aim to progress each workout.

    Thanks for your great work!

    • Flavia says:

      Hey Michael and girlfriend! If her arms are already as big as she wants them then she can keep the weights and the intensity where she is now to keep the muscle tissue. Often times women are trying to lean out their arms and this does take heavy weights and less calories…although many women don’t go this route in fear of getting even bigger, so it depends on her goals…if she want no change in her arms, keep everything the same. If she wants to lean out her arms, eat less and lift heavier for at least one set on each muscle group.

      As far as failure…you don’t want to go to failure on every set because you start to recuit other muscles to help carry out the movements at some point before failure even begins. This is not a good thing most times. Sounds like she is doing a great job recording every workout. Let her know that there are many variables that she can change to stimulate change in her legs. She can change the tempo of her exercise, use heavy weights low reps for the start sets on her legs and then add in moderate for the second exercise and/or third then finish off with one to three sets of 20.

      She could also change up the rest periods. One week short, next week long. All the best to her in Japan and tell her thanks for the great questions.

  • Lisa says:

    Hi Flavia, great article. My issue has always been what weight to use….. if i am trying to achieve 10-15 reps (3 sets) of an exercise, should I be using a weight that I am totally exhausted after the 3rd set? I know it will be based an every individual. But could you give us an idea of the weight you use for each exercise? This would help give me a starting point. And probably something to strive for.

    • Flavia says:

      Hey Lisa, it depends on your goal. If you are lifting 10-15 reps, you are just going to be burning fat and stimulating your muscles so you keep what muscle tissue you have. If you want to have muscle definition, this can be acheived MUCH faster by using a rep range of 6-8 of 3 or 4 sets on at least one exercise for each muscle group.

      • Susan Sadler says:

        Hi Flavia,
        I was thinking of asking a similar question :). Your response to Lisa makes sense as I think you mentioned while you were preparing for your photo shoot that you were trying to lean out and not increase the amount of muscle that you have (you were doing reps of 10 + on most things I think). Anyway, I love working at the lower rep ranges (I get finished faster too!). I have a few additional questions. In a session, how many exercises would you recommend per muscle group? I usually work 2 to 3 muscle groups per day with 3 to 4 exercises per muscle group, 3 to 4 sets per exercise and varying rep ranges (usually 6 to 12 depending upon the muscle group). Is that too much volume (I lift 3 to 4 times per week)? I also usually superset most exercises and keep my rest times to a minimum. If I have time, I uses plyometric exercises between sets to keep my heart rate up. For cardio, I usually do HIIT or tababata a few times a week either after weights or on a different day (any more and I start to lose muscle). I don’t need to lose fat but am wanting to gain more muscle definition. Sometimes I think I make my workouts too complicated! I see guys that come into the gym to lift heavy, no supersets and rest for a minute or so between sets – they have great definition. I worry that what I am doing is being counterproductive in building more muscle definition – I do have quite good definition but want to it be great 😉 (who doesn’t!). Anyway, thoughts? Thanks so much Flavia!

        • Flavia says:

          Hey Susan, sounds like a great system you have. I would move the cardio to do after the muscle groups you are trying to increase weights on the least…for example if you want some size on your arms, don’t do cardio after arm workouts. Nutrition is really key here. You have to eat immediately after your workout. I suggest a shake with fast digesting carbs right after your workouts and eat try to eat carbs 3 times a day, twice after your workouts. Increasing the weights weekly is also vital.

  • Michelle says:

    Totally agree!! On the edge of my seat waiting for Curvalicious!!

  • Clea says:

    Hi Flavia,

    Great article, is this school of thought different than the one used in Flavalicious fitness when higher reps were used. If so can you explain the difference between the programs and the benefits of each please?

    Thanks in advance,

    • Flavia says:

      Full-Body-Licious is more dedicated towards fat loss where Curvalicious is more dedicated towards losing fat and increasing both muscle tones so your body looks like you lift weights. They are both great systems and can be used interchangeably once you go through the Curvalicious system at least once. I love FBL workouts because of the tons of calories you burn….I love Curvalicious because it focuses specific body parts to shape them!

  • Marla says:

    Hey Flavia, another great article. May 21 is my birthday so maybe I should asks for this from my family. I have tried to purchase different workouts and for some reason, the different “billing” systems won’t take our credit card. I’m not sure if it is because the billing address is in the states, but we are living in the Philippines. If I can ever get it figured out maybe I’ll finally get to get one of your systems. 🙂

    Thanks again. I’m in my 40’s and still want to look like I lift and not like a “middle aged frump”

  • Anna says:

    LOVE LOVE LOVE the information your sharing! Curvalicious sounds awesome, thanks for doing a home and gym version! I can’t wait!

  • RB says:

    Hi Flavia, how can I gain about 25 lbs of muscle as fast as I can? I can gain fast but have problems retaining. I gained 6 lbs in 3 weeks doing Ben Paklulski’s program but got the flu, and lost 4 lbs in 2 days. I’m South American and I am the opposite of Japanese women, I want bigger arms than the girl above and want to gain about 5 inches on my thighs and butt and buff muscles on my arms and shoulders. I want huge glutes and thick thighs without them being flabby because in my country that is considered attractive, not so much upper body but the glutes and thighs. A lot of women are getting butt, thigh and calf enhancements but I want to build them the natural way. I used to have them when I was in my 20’s. I am thin like the muscular girl in the picture above but a little more thickness (muscle in my thighs) but I want to be much much bigger. Are there programs for women to gain as much muscle as possible in a short amount of time as there are for men? Still looking and can’t find any..I have no fear of getting bigger or eating more, just don’t want to gain fat instead of muscle.

    • Flavia says:

      Hey RB, the reason you lost the weight so fast was because it was water weight. It takes a while to build lean muscle. I would suggest looking at my hubby’s program…he is the muscle building master! or do Ben’s program again for another 6 weeks, his stuff is really good. You have to use a lot of calories to gain that much muscle. I would suggest some weight gainer or quick digesting carbs like in Ben’s program.

  • April says:

    Yes! Love the picture of the athletic model and of course you! Your workouts are awesome and I was wondering when you would be coming out with part 2! I lost my baby weight doing your program plus adding in others (just to keep boredom at bay like Craig B’s stuff, Shawna and Max Workouts…etc…but I REALLY LOVE YOUR PROGRAM!) And ha….the easy part seemed to be losing weight…the hard part seems to be getting that elusive muscle! I am starting to see some good muscular definition but want even more! So excited to get Curvalicious! YEAH!

  • Trelle says:

    Hi there! A question that was provoked by the gentleman above with his Japanese girlfriend…my sister and I have been having similar conversations, but in regards to chest workouts! My sister has been targeting body parts for years and has drastically gone down in size in her breasts. She wants to stop this and reverse it if possible, and I don’t want to loose my “feminine shape” in my chest. Waht is the truth about chest exercises, push ups and how all of this works? We are confused and there are a lot of opinions. With you being a woman, your input would be much appreciated. Our family is not extremely endowed in this area, so we don’t have much to loose anyways! Ha! Thanks for answering this potentially silly question. 🙂

    • Flavia says:

      HEy Trelle, not a silly question at all. I use one exercise set of heavy weights on my chest and the rest I use a lighter weight because my chest responds super quickly. Unfortunately, you will lose breat tissue especially if you aren’t endowed…it just is! It sucks but that’s the price we pay. If you are getting too much muscle there, simply back off the weights, use a lighter weight.

      • Trelle says:

        Okay, thanks! THat makes sense. Lighter weights…as for push ups, should we go to push ups on our kneees for two out of three sets to “lighten the weights”? Thank you again.

        • Flavia says:

          I would still try full push ups as these increase upper body strength and doesn’t actually just work the chest.

  • Anna says:

    I understand everything that I have just read. But I dot like either women not right not left. I would like to be some where in the middle. I don’t want to look super skinny, and I don’t like that mug muscle. Help.

  • Elaina says:

    I’ve been somewhat skeptical of your program because there are just so many bogus scams out there and most if these idiots really don’t know much, even the personal trainers at the gym! I will admit what sold me is your scientific explanation and proof of how things work! I love that you are educated and explaining why things work the way they do! I am a bodywork practitioner and have actually had trainers as patients and start talking to them about the body and the way things work and its like your speaking another language! So I think I just might get in on this curvalicious thing! Thanks Flavia! 🙂

  • Sanam says:

    Hi flavia .. The hardest part to lose weight Is in
    My arms ..I want them to be skinnier what exactly should I do to achieve that?
    I’m 5ft 132lbs my goal is to be 115-120 lbs

    • Flavia says:

      Believe it or not, lift heavy weights! This will bring nice shape to your muscles and begin thin them out! Nutrition certainly play a role too!

  • Hi Flavia, As a dancer muscle tone was described to me as per Neurogenic. When I was doing my Fitness accreditation I was told muscle tone was as per Myogenic – when I queried this discrepancy the lecturer was stumped, although he did say ‘muscle tone could be that (Neurogenic) too’. It has always confused me as it was never fully explained, and I really didn’t understand how muscle tone could have two definitions – and I am a person who likes to understand something fully before I speak about it or implement it. Therefore I am very grateful that you have clarified this for me – nearly 9 years later!!

  • Elaina says:

    Will Full-Body-licious still be available? Will you maybe be able to get them together??

  • Cindy says:

    I love reading your articles. I wish you were at my gym so I could learn from you.

  • Angela says:

    I am so happy i stumbled across your system….for the last 6 1/2 years since i turned 40 and had quit smoking..despite going to the gym 3-5 days a week for 2 hours at a time…taking 2 classes per day…eating between 1200-1800 calories per outside of the gym with lots of kids and a huge house and garden..i have gotten heavier and heavier…with rare weight loss results with extreme dieting..and then going right back up. It is interesting..lately i have started questioning why i am not having any success compared to when i was a bit younger. The one difference i have realized..i don’t lift weights any more..i do the hour long high rep weight lifting class instead. I used to do a 3 day split and only about 30-35 minutes of cardio usually 4 days a week the weight would just drop off, even after the first 4 of my six children….now after reading your site and purchasing Curvalicious and watching the intro videos…it all makes so much sense and supports my suspicions and explains why!! YAY!! I can’t wait to begin…i am previewing all of the work out videos first and then will get started. I am so excited to see what kind of results i will get! I will track my results and take measurements and photos…i will do a 6 week check in since that is when my 25 year old son’s wedding is happening….and then at 12 weeks(i am sure it will take twice that long to get to my goal..but heck what is 24 weeks compared to the last 6 years?)…I have 75 pounds that i want to drop…yeah i am 215 pounds at a size 16….my goal is 140 and be back into a size 6…so we shall see how this goes! I am so grateful that i found you….

  • Crystal says:

    Hi Flavia,
    Can your home workout be done with kettlebells in lieu of dumbells? I have a wide range of kb weights and was looking for a female focused way to train with them.

  • julie says:

    Here is my clickbank number YXPSFEVC. I have paid but have not received any links to download the product. please help.

  • Julia Farrell says:

    If you do low reps with high weights how many sets do you do and with your full body or single out muscle groups. I have done P90X where you workout for an hour, but then I did this thing with my dad where we did five reps of each exercise for 3 sets, which probably took twenty minutes. I felt the same burn working out in way less time. But then your videos are about an hour long too right, so which is right? Are supposed to just focus on arms one day, chest and back the next… or do upper body/lower body.
    Thanks! 🙂

    • Flavia says:

      HEy Julia, there really is a lot of things you can do. My videos are about an hour in FBL because they are Full-body workouts and don’t need a lot of cardio until you are doing the workouts in 40-45 mintutes than you can add cardio to advance if needed. Curvalicious is more body part training which takes 40-45 minutes and if you drop the warmup (abdominals) on some workouts it should take 30 minutes and you would add cardio 2-3 times a week if needed.

      It depends what your goals are. IF you want shape than body part training is essential. If you want to build some muscle so you don’t have to do as much dieting and cardio, body part training is essential. IF you just want to strip fat and maybe even some muscle…workouts like P90X or all cardio will do that!

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