Toned vs. Ripped


Toned and ripped are both words used to describe someone's physical condition. They are usually used to refer to a person's level of body fat and muscle mass. Toned indicates someone with a low level of body fat and good muscle definition, while ripped suggests even lower levels of body fat, to the point where the person has a high degree of definition and vascularity.

The Real Definition of Tone

  • Despite the fact that most people use tone when talking about how someone looks, the official definition doesn't relate to body fat levels at all. Tone actually means the degree of tension in a muscle, which is controlled by motor impulses. If your muscles are tighter and more readily contracted, this shows a higher degree of tension and muscle tone. Generally you have better muscle tone if you're well-trained, as your muscles will be tighter and contracted to a higher degree all the time. You could also view this as your muscles being switched on.

Gender Specific

  • In "How to Get Published," trainer and fitness writer John Romaniello notes that you'll usually find "toned" used in women's magazines and articles, whereas ripped tends to be aimed more at guys or hardcore fitness enthusiasts. Romaniello adds that the same workout or article can often be used both for men and women, but changed to suit the demographic simply by switching words around.

Busting Body Fat

  • There is no exact level of body fat you need to be defined as toned and ripped. However, toned is generally used to describe someone with good muscle definition, which according to the Built Lean website is around 10 to 15 percent body fat for men and 15 to 22 percent for women. Ripped often takes it a stage further, to the point where you can see veins and striations in muscles, which is roughly 3 to 10-percent body fat for men and below 15 percent for women. To be toned or lean, you need to lose the majority of your body fat, otherwise it just covers the muscle you've built.

Picture Perfect

  • Picture your ideal body image in your mind, then describe what word you feel best describes this. If you're wanting to look like a contest-ready bodybuilder, ripped is probably the more appropriate word. Whereas if your goal is just to look slim and well-defined, then toned or even lean may be more fitting. It doesn't matter which word you use too much, as long as you have your goals in your head and have a program to match.

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