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Muscle Toning Exercises for Men & Women: How to Tone Your Body

Beautiful Woman Doing PushupsIt’s a common misconception that, in order to tone all of your muscles, you need to perform high repetitions combined with little resistance and moderate rest periods. But to truly get a firm body with flattering muscular definition and shape, you’ll need to do more than just high repetitions to reach this goal.
In fact, the body can only tone-up and remove the “jiggley” arms with an increase of muscle tissue, along with a low percentage of body fat. That said, read on to discover the best methods for toning your body.

Losing Fat/Strength Training

Strength training is a very important part of toning muscle, and it also contributes to fat burning since it builds muscle; plus growing muscles burn calories. Strength training is also important to drop the layer of fat lying on top of your muscles.

Of course, if you are only practicing resistance training alone, you won’t be seeing results. This is even truer if you’re training only using high repetitions and low resistance, which puts very little stress on your muscles.

Some of the most common strength training exercises like push-ups and chin-ups are every effective at building muscle because they force you to use your own body weight. Good strength training exercises that involve weights are bench press, shoulder press, squats and lunges – just to name a few.

It’s also worth mentioning that there is no special “toning” technique for your muscles. Instead, those who want the toned look, which is looking muscular without being too big, need to combine strength training with some cardio to get that all-important fit look. A good goal to shoot for with cardio is at least three, 20-minute sessions each week.

Compound Exercises

One common misconception about toning is that you should stick to isolation exercises which work one muscle group such as bicep curls, lateral raises (shoulders) and hamstring curls. But the reality is that the average person will benefit far more by doing compound exercises because these work multiple muscle groups. As mentioned before, bench press, squats, shoulder press and lunges are good exercises, and the reason why is because they work several different muscles at once.

By using compound exercises, you cut down on the amount of time you’re in the gym, and you’ll still be effectively building muscle in the process. In short: leave the isolation exercises to the professional bodybuilders who have all day to spend working out.

Resistance Training done Properly

Even if you are worried about becoming too bulky, you’ll still want to challenge your muscles by using weights that make exercising uncomfortable, but not impossible. In order to change your body’s muscles, they need to be stressed, which requires pushing your weight amount up when you notice that smaller weights are easy to lift. If you are merely moving your muscles with little effort, you will not see any results since your muscles don’t have to work harder to produce results.

Try: An example of resistance training is doing sit-ups since they use your body’s own weight as a resistance force. If you are able to do 13 sit-ups with no problem, you may need to increase your resistance. If this isn’t challenging enough, do the sit-ups with 5-8 pounds of weight in your hands to add extra resistance. If you are becoming fatigued after 10 repetitions, consider it a success because this is the amount that produces the most results.

Exercises to Tone Back, Shoulders/Chest, Biceps/Triceps & Legs

Toning Your Back Muscles

Getting into specific exercises, begin by standing with your feet a shoulder width’s apart while holding something in your hands such as a weighted ball, gallon of water, 10-pound dumbbell, or anything else that you have available. Proceed by bending your knees, tilting your pelvis a little forward while holding your abdominals tight. Keep your back straight and touch what you are holding to the floor; or as close to the floor as you can; stand back up, and repeat.

These movements will definitely tone and strengthen your back, as well as your legs. But be sure that you are always bending your knees so that you’re not causing a back injury. Also, 2 sets of 10-12 repetitions are good with this exercise.

Toning Your Shoulders/Chest

There are several different shoulder exercises you can do in the weight room such as shoulder press and bench press. With the shoulder press, begin by holding weights level to your shoulders, then raise the weights above your head; slowly lower the weights and repeat. Shoulder presses are nice because they not only tone your shoulders, but also the triceps too. Do 2-3 sets of 10-12 repetitions for best results.

The bench press is another exercise that will build up your shoulders, and work your chest at the same time. This simple exercise involves lying on a flat bench, slowly bringing the barbell down to your chest, then raising it back up. Please note that you should always do bench presses with the proper equipment (found at your local gym). Also, a good goal is to do 2-3 sets of bench pressing for 8-10 reps.

Another chest/shoulder exercise is the simple push-up, and you can do this without even using equipment! Aim for 10 push-ups, and set out to increase this amount by 2 push-ups every week.

Toning your Biceps/Triceps

Many people use isolation exercises to tone their biceps and triceps, which as we discussed before, involves a lot of wasted time. So focusing on the compound exercises, bench press will work both muscle groups (more so the triceps), which makes this exercise perfect for your biceps and triceps. And as mentioned in the previous section, the shoulder press also works your triceps.

A compound exercise that you can do for your biceps is the pull-up, which also works your lats and upper back. Most beginners find pull-ups to be extremely hard though, so you might aid yourself with a chair in the beginning; this involves standing on the chair while pulling yourself off of the chair so you don’t have to support your body weight the entire time. Assuming you have the time, you can also do some bicep curls since this muscle group isn’t targeted in many compound exercises.

Toning your Legs

Squats are the ultimate exercise for legs since they work your hamstrings, quads and glutes. Anybody looking for a bigger, toned butt will definitely benefit from these! To begin with squats, you need to rest a barbell on your shoulders behind the neck. Next, you should lower your body using only your legs while keeping the back straight. Try to get your legs as close to parallel as possible before coming back up.

Another exercise worth discussing is the lunge. To do this, have weights or water jugs in your hand, and step forward with one leg; the goal is to touch your knee on the ground before coming back up. After this, step forward with the other leg and keep alternating. One more good exercise for the legs are calve raises because these work both the calves and stabilizing ankle muscles. These are simple since you just need to have weights in your hands, raise up on your toes, then come back down before repeating.

If you combine all of the aforementioned exercises (great for both: men and women) with cardio, you will be moving towards a much more toned look. Also, be sure to switch up your muscle-building exercises every few months so that the body doesn’t adapt to these workouts. Otherwise, you’ll be getting minimal-to-no gains after a while.

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