When and How to Tone and Build Muscles

By: Wilna Eksteen



This is something every male will attempt, and more than once in his lifetime. Unfortunately, muscle building and toning are (like most things in life) influenced by your genes, age, gender, eating habits and exercise. Not all teenage boys will wake up on their 15th birthday with a full beard and start shaving, some will start earlier. Some will take years to grow a beard that runs from ear to ear and some will have to shave twice a day to keep everything under control. The same principle applies to muscle building and toning.


Not everyone builds muscles in the same way. If you understand that your body determines how you build and tone muscles, you can start doing the right types of exercises, taking part in the right sports and identifying which physical activities will be easiest for you.

Type 1

Type 1 fibres are also known as slow twitch fibres. They are red in colour due to the presence of large volumes of myoglobin and oxygen as well as high numbers of mitochondria. They are very resistant to fatigue and are capable of producing repeated low-level contractions.

Athletes such as marathon runners have a high number of this type of fibre, partly through genetics and partly through training1.

Type 2A

Type 2A fibres are also known as fast oxidative fibres and are a cross of type I and II fibres. They are more prone to fatigue than type I fibres. Resistance training can turn type 2B fibres into type 2A fibres by increasing the ability to utilise the oxidative cycle1.

Type 2B   

Also known as fast glycolytic fibres, these are white in colour due to a low level of myoglobin and few mitochondria. This results in short, fast bursts of power and rapid fatigue. This type of fibre can be turned into type 2A fibres, through resistance training. This is a positive change because of the increased fatigue resistance of type 2A fibres. These fibres are found in large quantities in the arm muscles1.

It is a lot harder for someone with majority type 1 muscle fibre to build bulking muscles, than it is for someone with majority type 2B fibres. It is quite easy to identify the type of muscle fibres you have. If you are lean, naturally a bit skinny and have never been the fastest person around, you most likely have type 1 muscle fibres.

This will help you when you exercise. If you have type 1 muscle fibres, it takes you a lot longer to condition your muscles into being ‘bulky’ than if you have type 2B muscle fibres.



During your teen years, your body wants to grow. You’re churning out hormones that are specially designed to help you get bigger. Right now you may be able to take in a huge amount of food and use it to build a strong body.  But growing will not stop here – especially for guys.

  • There is no shortcut to growing.
  • You will not look like the guy next to you, everybody is different.
  • Start slowly. Your muscles are growing but forcing them will just cause injuries.
  • Genetics does play a role.
  • Do not overdo protein.
  • Sleep! Your body produces growth hormones while you sleep.
  • Get advice on your specific body type.


You are not supposed to look in proportion when you are going through puberty. Your body grows at different rates, in different places and this is completely normal. The same principle applies to your muscles, they will grow bigger as soon as your body can afford to use energy for it.



  1. Listen to your body.
  2. Speak to your parents about when they went through growth spurts. This can give you an idea of when you might start growing taller or building muscles more easily.
  3. If you work against your body, you will cause more damage than good and it will take you a lot longer to see any results.
  4. Do not compare yourself with other girls or boys.
  5. Eat a healthy, balanced diet that consists of a variety of foods. The body you have now still needs to go through a lot, look after it.
  6. Muscle building and toning is very dangerous if you start too early.

Building and toning muscles is different for every person. Make sure you understand your body and what is ‘natural’ for you. There are a lot of ways to look better and have a healthy body, but it depends on your body and what it is capable of at different stages in your life.



  1. http://www.teachpe.com/anatomy/fibre_types.php


  1. http://www.teachpe.com/anatomy/fibre_types.php
  2. http://www.taseerlabs.com/Height/13-Growth%20&%20Development.html