In science there is no such thing as muscle "toning".
You can contract a muscle concentrically (shorten it), eccentrically (lengthen it) or you can have an isometric contraction (holding the contraction, like a plank). Toning is not an option. It's a made-up term in the fitness industry and it's not real - it's advertising. Sorry – had to get that off my chest!
I get it I was once scared of weights too and I'm all about going for the long lean look. Before I had a kin degree and actually worked out beyond running I thought that lifting 8 lbs was the absolute MAX I could go before my arms started to pop out of my shirts like a mini hulkette. I learned the hard way and here's the truth:
The bulkiest weight you will lift all day is the weight of the food on your fork that you lift and put in your mouth.
The wine you drink at night, the chocolate scone yesterday morning, bagel for lunch – those are the weights that will make you look big and bulky, it's not the weights you lift!
Adding muscle will make your entire body look better. My favourite example of this is push-ups. They strengthen your pectoral muscles which can actually make you look like you've had a boob job. Yes you read that right: doing push-ups will lift your boobs up! Conversely, if you can't do 10 full chest to floor push-ups now you're likely going to be looking at some pretty droopy boobies by age 35. Hop to it! That's science.
The truth is it is REALLY hard to get bulky from exercise alone. Just think back for a moment to your university gym days, how many guys in the gym DREAMED of "getting jacked" … and how many of them actually were? Maybeee 10 %. It takes a ton of work to get big jacked muscles – and those guys have testosterone floating around, ladies we don't even have that to help us get huge. I would also add that the leanest people at Bod Squad are the ones lifting the heaviest weights!
I'm not suggesting a power weight lifting program here. When I'm talking about weights I'm talking about using free weights mostly with the addition of fun toys like the TRX and really any type of exercise balls/toys. The key to avoid bulk with workouts is to have constant variety in your exercises. When I was my "bulkiest" it was because I was rowing 6x a week working the same muscles at the same angles over and over and over again.
My bottom line: A fit body is a beautiful body no matter what the shape and size. You look best when you feel best. Eat right and don't be scared of any exercise, the key is do it all and find what you really love so that you'll stick with it six days a week 52 weeks a year!