Tonal For Weight Loss (How to get in shape at home)


Let’s face it: Improving your fitness and losing weight can feel nearly impossible without strategies for mastering training and nutrition. Today I will explain how to get ripped with Tonal and what are the best long-term practices that help you get in shape and maintain weight loss results.

As a whole, you can lose weight with Tonal, as long as you implement progressive overload and stay in the calorie deficit. Tonal workouts and programs not only help to burn more calories but also build muscle mass, which leads to a higher resting metabolic rate. Higher RMR means you burn more calories at rest.

I will also touch on the importance of protein and give you some insights from the current research about weight loss.

Tonal And Weight Loss

Tonal and weight loss go hand in hand because regular strength training leads not only to overall better body composition but also to improved insulin sensitivity, even without dieting.

What is insulin sensitivity? In short, insulin sensitivity is the response of the body to glucose. Low insulin sensitivity means the body cells use/absorb blood glucose less effectively, which leads to higher blood glucose levels.

Below you can see the illustration of how does resistance training on Tonal impacts glucose levels.

Here’s how it works.

  • Strength training with Tonal leads to building more muscle mass.
  • Muscle mass is an efficient glucose disposal unit because it “soaks up” and stores glucose from the blood, therefore, it lowers blood glucose levels.
  • Lower glucose levels lead to a decrease in hunger and appetite, as well as enable the body to use fat as the energy source.

Now watch this.

Dr. Javier Ibañez published a study in Diabetes Care Journal that documented nine older men who did resistance training twice a week for 16 weeks, without any dietary intervention.

The study workout protocol included:

  • 2 workouts per week
  • 45 to 60 minutes sessions
  • full body workouts (7 to 8 exercises)
  • progressive overload

The results have shown that “two sessions per week of resistance training, without a concomitant weight loss diet, significantly improves insulin sensitivity and fasting glycemia and decreases abdominal fat in older men” (Ibañez et al. 2005).

  • Abdominal fat dropped from 364 cm3 to 308 cm3
  • Fasting plasma glucose levels dropped from 150 mg/dl  to 135 mg/dl
  • Muscle strength increased across all compound lifts

This means that even without calorie restriction all people were able to reduce their sugar levels.

What I like about this study is it confirms that losing weight with Tonal doesn’t mean you need to train every day. It also does not mean you need to stick to restrictive diets (more on that later).

Is Tonal good for weight loss?

In general, Tonal as a resistance training tool is a good solution for weight loss because it helps to increase lean mass, improve insulin sensitivity, and decrease fat mass. Plus, it allows doing all workouts in the comfort of your home, which leads to higher adherence and consistency in the exercise.

The consistency part is really important.

I think that losing weight with Tonal has never been easier for multiple reasons:

  • You can do your training at home whenever is convenient for you
  • You can do all of the compound movements that elicit the best results
  • You can utilize dynamic modes that make the exercises even harder

Does Tonal actually work? Overall, Tonal does work because from one machine you can do over 200 exercises (both multi-joint and isolation lifts) that covers all muscle groups. Plus, you can track all your metrics and see the progress not only from the whole workout but also from each individual exercise.

NOTE: Click here to learn more about “tonal eccentric mode” and how to use it for strength and muscle growth in my article here.

Can Tonal Help You Lose Weight?

Increasing your daily energy expenditure is another way to assist in your Tonal weight loss program.

Can Tonal help you lose weight? In general, Tonal help to lose weight because it increases your lean mass, which leads to higher energy expenditure and higher BMR (basal metabolic rate). Higher muscle mass is a major determinant of higher energy expenditure, whereas people with a “low” metabolic rate can be at a higher risk of positive energy balance and weight gain.

Let’s break it down.

What is BMR? As a whole, BMR stands for basal metabolic rate and accounts for approximately 70% of total daily energy expenditure (the number of calories you burn in a day). The BMR includes processes that your body needs energy for like breathing, oxygen transportation, cognitive thinking, and blood circulation.

See the graph below.

Calories burned during the day

As you can see, the majority of your daily calorie expenditure comes from the basal metabolic rate.

If we gonna go a step further, from all the processes that I’ve mentioned above:

  • Oxygen consumption and transportation are the most “metabolically expensive”. This means it takes a lot of calories for the body to move the oxygen to all cells.
  • Muscle requires a gigantic amount of oxygen, therefore, having more muscle mass increases your basal metabolic rate, even at rest.

Can I lose weight with tonal? Overall, you can lose weight with Tonal because it not only helps to increase your exercise activity thermogenesis (the energy you burn during the physical activity) but also increases the number of calories that you burn at rest.

How To Lose Weight With Tonal

As a general rule, to lose weight with Tonal you need to focus on doing consistent resistance training using compound movements and implementing progressive overload. For optimal results, you also need to maintain a calorie deficit with a sufficient amount of proteins that help to facilitate muscle protein synthesis.

Woah!

Let’s go one by one.

#1 Apply progressive overload

Progressive overload means you increase total training volume on a weekly or monthly basis. Adding more resistance to Tonal over the course of multiple weeks leads to greater training adaptations, and optimal hormonal responses, and helps to avoid a training plateau.

See the graph below.

How does progressive overload work? To achieve progressive overload you can manipulate training in a way that you increase the number of sets performed per exercise, the total number of exercises performed, the range of motion of the exercise, time under tensions, and/or through variation in repetitions.

In other words, you need to challenge your body.

What’s more, progressive overload is essential for weight loss with Tonal because it helps to combat the adaptive component of thermogenesis (aka metabolic adaptation) that appears during prolonged energy restriction (dieting).

  • Adaptive thermogenesis means the body gets used to calorie restriction.
  • When you eat fewer calories than your body needs (calorie deficit), this causes an undesirable loss of fat-free mass (muscle) due to enhanced muscle protein breakdown.
  • Higher muscle protein breakdown means reduced resting metabolic rate, which makes it harder to continue losing weight.

I won’t be covering all the details about how this process works. You can learn more about “metabolic slowdown” in my article here.

In short, adding progressive overload to your Tonal weight loss program ensures your muscle protein synthesis exceeds the muscle protein breakdown, which helps to maintain your muscle mass and BMR.

How much resistance do you need on Tonal to lose weight? Overall, you need around 70–90% of one-repetition maximum for the most optimal muscle protein synthesis. On the other hand, using resistance with 20–40% of one-repetition maximum showed negligible effects (Atherton, 2012).

For example, if your 1RM for the squat is 100lbs, doing 3 sets of 10 reps with 70lbs will be enough to trigger muscle building.

Which Tonal exercise is best for weight loss? The best exercises on Tonal for weight loss include all compound movements like squats, deadlifts, bench presses, and rows. These movements enable a greater magnitude of weight to be lifted, which leads to better strength and hypertrophy gains.

One thing that I don’t like about the Tonal gym is the 200lbs limit on max resistance. I personally

The digital resistance limit of 200lbs on Tonal is enough to lose weight for most people because it provides sufficient weight to stimulate progressive overload and optimal training adaptations. However, more advanced lifters or people with strength and performance-oriented goals may find the weight limit inconvenient.

NOTE: Click here to learn more about what are the best “tonal workouts” for fat loss and muscle mass.

#2 Create a calorie deficit

Some experts tell you to count calories or meticulously measure every macro. Others encourage you to estimate portions or “listen to your body.”

But guess what? 

Calorie counting works. Measuring macros? Also works. Tracking hand portions? Same. Mindful eating? Intuitive eating? Yep, those work too.

Apart from training hard and being consistent, a big chunk of your Tonal weight loss plan should include calorie restriction. This can be done in the form of intermittent fasting, calorie counting, or intuitive eating.

The method that you choose does not really matter, as long as you are in a calorie deficit.

Studie has shown that “independently of the method for weight loss, the negative energy balance alone is responsible for weight reduction” (Strasser et al. 2007).

Calorie deficit works by switching the body to start using stored fat as an energy source, instead of calories from food.

How many calories you should eat to lose weight on Tonal? Overall, The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend creating an energy deficit of at least 500 kcal a day to facilitate weight loss. The easiest way to create a 500-calorie deficit is by reducing the total amount of calories from food (calorie counting) or skipping a meal (intermittent fasting).

I like the latter because it does not require me to use any charts, food scales, and fitness apps. For some people, skipping one meal per day is enough to create a negative energy balance.

#3 Eat more protein

You can lose weight with Tonal by creating a calorie deficit and maintaining your protein intake of around 2.0 – 2.4 grams of protein per kg (1.0 – 1.2 grams of protein per lb of bodyweight) per day. For example, a person who weighs 170lbs should consume between 170 to 200 grams of protein.

Here’s why.

Dr.Stefan M Pasiakos from the United States Army Research Institute has documented 12 people who were divided into two 10-day periods (calorie deficit or calorie maintenance).

  • The calorie deficit phase involved dieting for 10 days with a protein intake of around 1.5 grams of protein per kg per day.
  • The calorie maintenance phase didn’t involve dieting, however, all participants still ate the same 1.5 grams of protein per kg per day (with the total amount of calories around the “maintenance” level).

See details below.

Phase 1Phase 2
106 g protein106 g protein
272 g of carbs367 g of carbs
72 g of fat86 g of fat
Total: 2,162 kcalTotal: 2,684 kcal
Source: Pasiakos, Stefan M et al. 2010
  • The amount of protein was the same.
  • The difference between the two phases was around 500 kcal.

The purpose of this study was to assess the difference in muscle protein synthesis vs muscle protein breakdown.

The results have shown that “protein synthesis was downregulated ∼19% in response to an acute, moderate energy deficit in physically active adults and provide a basis for future studies assessing the impact of prolonged, and perhaps more severe, energy restriction on skeletal muscle protein turnover” (Pasiakos, Stefan M et al. 2010).

Of course, 19% doesn’t sound like a lot. However, please remember that this was only 10 days of moderate calorie deficit. Plus, all people ate 1.5 grams of protein (which is around twice as much as the current RDA).

How much protein do I need to lose weight on Tonal? On average, to lose weight on Tonal and maintain positive muscle protein synthesis you need between 1.6 to 2.4 grams of protein per kg of body weight per day.

Studies have shown that “consuming high-protein diets (1.6-2.4 g/kg per day), or high-quality, protein-based meals (15-30 g whey) during energy deficit attenuates intracellular proteolysis, restores muscle protein synthesis, and mitigates skeletal muscle loss” (Pasiakos et al. 2015).

Of course, getting so many proteins from food can be challenging. A great alternative is to take whey protein powder in between meals. My favorite protein is Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard available on Amazon. Details here.

(if you buy through links on this page, I may earn a small commission).

NOTE: You can learn more about “calorie deficit and protein” in my article here.

Tonal Weight Loss Results

Seeing weight loss results on Tonal is extremely rewarding because it shows you that the process works and you did all the right things. However, it does take time (which is one of the most common questions I get).

How long does it take to see results on Tonal? The weight loss process on Tonal starts immediately after you reduce calorie intake when your body switches to using body fat as a main source of energy. However, it can take 12 weeks to start seeing the first sign of results.

I think that the biggest factor that can help you get faster results (and maintain them) is the motivating factor. That can be:

  • physical appearance
  • self-esteem
  • social influence
  • health motives

Studies have shown that “physical appearance as main maintenance motive was inversely associated with maintained weight loss, after adjusting for age, sex and years of education” (Poulimeneas et al. 2021).

On the other hand, physical appearance as the main outcome was less effective (3.5% difference) in people who wanted to maintain weight loss results.

How much weight can you lose on Tonal? In general, you can lose around 1 lb to 2 lb of body weight per week on Tonal, as long as you are in the calorie deficit. Some people see extreme progress that ranges from 1.5 lb to even 3 lb per week. The rate of progress will depend on the factors like age, gender, physical activity, and stress levels.

Tonal Workout For Weight Loss

Now once you learned about what a good Tonal weight loss program should include, let’s have a look at practical ways on how you can create your own custom workout plan.

The goal of this plan is to recruit as much total muscle mass as possible in each session and train each muscle group two or more times per week. This will help to facilitate favorable hormonal responses while minimizing muscle fatigue.

  • Train with big, complex movements
  • Use heavy resistance (70-90% of your 1RM)

Here is an example of the 12-week Tonal weight loss plan.

Monday

MondaySetsRepsRest
Deadlift551-2 min
Lat Pull Down561-2 min
Bench Press561-2 min
Back Squat561-2 min
Tonal weight loss plan Monday

Wednesday

WednesdaySetsRepsRest
Barbell Front Squat561-2 min
Barbell Bent Over Row561-2 min
Overhead Press561-2 min
Cable Pull Through561-2 min
Tonal weight loss plan Wednesday

Friday

FridaySetsRepsRest
Standing Cable Chest Press561-2 min
Neutral Grip Deadlift561-2 min
Back Squat561-2 min
Close Grip Barbell Bench Press561-2 min
Tonal weight loss plan Friday

As you can see, there are only 4 exercises per session. However, these are all compound movements and because the number of sets is around 5, this keeps the training volume high, even without additional isolation work like biceps curls or leg extensions.

To implement progressive overload you can add an additional set (one lift at a time) every 4 weeks. This means you don’t change the weight/reps/sets for the first 4 weeks and the only change you make for weeks 5 to 8 is in one to two lifts.

Here’s how it looks.

Week 5

Monday

MondaySetsRepsRest
Deadlift651-2 min
Lat Pull Down561-2 min
Bench Press561-2 min
Back Squat561-2 min
Tonal weight loss plan week 5 Monday

Wednesday

WednesdaySetsRepsRest
Barbell Front Squat561-2 min
Barbell Bent Over Row561-2 min
Overhead Press561-2 min
Cable Pull Through561-2 min
Tonal weight loss plan week 5 Wednesday

Friday

FridaySetsRepsRest
Standing Cable Chest Press561-2 min
Neutral Grip Deadlift661-2 min
Back Squat561-2 min
Close Grip Barbell Bench Press561-2 min
Tonal weight loss plan week 5 Friday

As you can see, all we did is add an extra set on Monday Deadlift and Friday neutral grip deadlift. All the rest of the exercises remains the same.

Now take a look at the progression for weeks 9 to 12.

Week 9

Monday

MondaySetsRepsRest
Deadlift651-2 min
Lat Pull Down561-2 min
Bench Press661-2 min
Back Squat561-2 min
Tonal weight loss plan week 9 Monday

Wednesday

WednesdaySetsRepsRest
Barbell Front Squat561-2 min
Barbell Bent Over Row561-2 min
Overhead Press661-2 min
Cable Pull Through561-2 min
Tonal weight loss plan week 9 Wednesday

Friday

FridaySetsRepsRest
Standing Cable Chest Press661-2 min
Neutral Grip Deadlift661-2 min
Back Squat561-2 min
Close Grip Barbell Bench Press561-2 min
Tonal weight loss plan week 9 Friday

As you can notice, here we continue with the 6 set deadlifts from the previous progression, but at the same time, we added more sets into press movements (bench press and overhead press).

Best Tonal Programs For Weight Loss

Apart from doing custom workouts, Tonal has also several weight loss programs that are all designed to burn fat and build muscle. However, they include several isolation exercises that can add unnecessary fatigue to the whole workout.

This is problematic, especially if you’re doing calorie deficit because feeling exhausted after training can lead to hunger pangs and cravings. I find that doing less is actually better.

That being said, here are some of the best Tonal programs for weight loss.

  • Barbell Complex For Fat Loss (39min)
  • Multi-Joint Madness (39min)
  • Full Body Burnout (19 min)
  • Endless Summer Body (31 min)

Which Tonal workout is best for weight loss? As a whole, the best Tonal weight loss workout is Barbell Complex For Fat Loss with coach Jackson because it includes mostly compound movements. It also uses sub-maximal resistance with additional digital features like “Spotter”, where the machine reduces the weight to help you push the last couple of reps.

You can learn more about the benefits of using “tonal digital weights” in my article here.

Conclusion

As you can see, using Tonal for weight loss is effective, as long as you stay consistent, have enough protein in your diet, and maintain a negative energy balance. A good Tonal fat loss program should include long-term gradual progression with an emphasis on multi-joint movements.

Good luck.

Michal Sieroslawski

Michal is an exercise physiologist (MSc), nutrition coach, Ashtanga teacher, and fitness blogger. He shares his successes and failures to help busy men and women squash down 20, 50, or even 100 pounds of fat without leaving their home.

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