How to shape your body into a lean, toned summer dream

Holiday season is almost here, folks. How are you feeling about that beach body? If you’re not so confident yet, not to worry! Whatever you do, stay away from fad diets or anything that can harm your health – it’s simply not worth it.

Instead, we’ve put together a couple of tips on how to build lean muscle so that you’re toned, comfortable in your skin, and ready to soak up the sun while feeling sexy this summer.

Increase your workout days

If you want to build lean muscle, shooting out for a run or squeezing in an at-home Kayla Itsines routine once or twice a week is, unfortunately, not going to cut it. To see actual results, you will need to increase your number of workout days to four or five.

It’s all about the weights

Don’t believe the age-old myths that weights are for humongous bodybuilders only. No, it won’t make you bulky, Yes, it will make you lean. Running for hours on end, five days a week, will only make you tired and probably give you a flat-like-a-pancake booty. Sorry to break it to you, but even though you may lose weight and we love a good cardio workout, all that running alone, simply won’t sculpt or tone muscle as you might hope.

While running might help you to shed a couple of kilogrammes (it really is effective for making the figures on the scale drop), what you may not realise is you could be losing valuable muscle. The fact of the matter is, the more muscle you have, the more calories your body burns throughout the day, and a faster metabolism is what you should be after.

Interestingly, researchers have found that running appears to impair the muscles’ ability to adapt to strength training to some degree but conversely, weight training appears to improve running performance.

Don’t scrap cardio completely

To keep your metabolism going and the heart pumping, cardio is definitely necessary for your exercise routine. And with the added weight training, you’ll soon be on the highway to a lean body.

Insert recovery days

Recovery days are essential for toning up and building muscle. When you slot in recovery days, your body has time to make repairs and adaptations to become stronger, fitter, and faster.

Get enough sleep

People often underestimate how important good sleeping habits are for our health and wellbeing. Cultivating the habit of getting enough sleep will also help build muscle. This is because the growth hormone is naturally released by the brain into the bloodstream during sleep, says Richard Kreider (PhD), Director of the Exercise & Sport Nutrition Lab at Texas A&M University. Skimping on sleep means your body doesn’t produce the helpful hormones needed to build muscle and keep tissue healthy.

Eat the right stuff

It’s essential to find a balance between cardio, weight training, and nutrition. Cut out the junk and do all that you can from your side to help your body transform by what you put (or don’t put) in your mouth. To build muscle, you also have to increase your protein intake so pay attention to your grocery basket!

The world of health and fitness can feel overwhelming if you’re just diving into it. There will always be hundreds of different opinions and views out there, making it difficult to keep up or know who to believe.

Maintaining a healthy weight and gaining some lean muscle isn’t really rocket science. Simply keep moderation top of mind when it comes to food, and always opt for protein-rich, healthy foods as opposed to junk food. Remember to exercise regularly and introduce some weights into your workout routine.

It’s also a good idea to ask a health professional or a fitness instructor for advice on what types of exercises will be best for your body type.

About My Health and Fitness

Welcome to My Health and Fitness, a rich source of articles to help you become the best version of yourself. From diet to exercise and general health, our content contributors (including Biokineticists, Physiotherapists, and Fitness Professionals) will cover all your frequently asked questions and more!

If you would like to become part of our content team as a health and fitness professional, please email us at

Disclaimer: Our articles are not meant to replace any medical advice as given to you by your doctor or healthcare specialist. Always consult your doctor before trying out a new exercise routine or making drastic changes to your diet, especially where pre-existing conditions are applicable.

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