It is common to hear people speaking about the desire to ‘tone’ their muscles, especially women. Men generally want to flaunt ripped, while most women want their muscles to look tight and not flabby.
The actual definition of muscle tone is the unconscious contraction of muscles while at rest. Good muscle tone would mean that muscles appear firm and contracted at all times, even when you are not working out. This can only be achieved with continuous strength training.
10 Muscle Toning Exercises for Women:
For women, the biggest trouble spots, i.e. body parts with low muscle tone, are the arms, chest, abs, hips, glutes and thighs. Obviously, this differs from woman to woman, which is why we have here a list of 10 toning exercises for muscles in various parts of the body. Many of these are combo moves; they target more than one body part in one workout. Be sure to use weights that are comfortable but the last few reps should feel hard. Start with 1kg weights and go up when it gets too easy.
1. Triceps Single Arm Kickbacks:
- Stand straight with a dumbbell in your right hand.
- Take a large step (about two feet) forward with your left foot. Bend forward at the waist.
- Place your left hand on the middle of your left thigh for support. Keep your head, neck and back in a straight line and your abs engaged.
- Bend your right arm forming a 90 degree angle in your elbow and extend your bent arm backwards, so that your hand is near your hip. Keep your shoulders down.
- Exhale and extend your bent forearm back so that your right arm is now completely straight, but not stiff. Keep your elbow unlocked.
- Inhale and bring forearm back to bent position. Do 8 to 12 reps and then repeat on the other side.
2. Triceps Dip:
Targets: Triceps, Chest, Lower Back
- Sit with back straight, knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Place hands on the floor by your hips with fingers pointing forward.
- Push off from your hands and feet, and lift your hips off the floor. Go as high as you can, or till you reach a ‘tabletop’ position.
- Hold for a few seconds and then release your hips slowly to the floor. Do 20 reps.
3. Chest Fly:
- Lie on the floor with a dumbbell at each hand. Keep your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Extend your arms on either side in line with your shoulders.
- Exhale and lift both arms simultaneously, palms facing each other.
- Bring both dumbbells up above your chest. Be sure to keep your arms slightly bent at the elbow.
- When raising your dumbbells, ensure that you feel the squeeze in your chest muscles and not your arms. Lower your arms carefully and slowly. Start the next rep before your arms hit the ground. Do 15 reps in all.
4. Lunge with Bicep Curl:
Targets: Biceps, Glutes, Quads, Hamstrings
- Stand with feet hip width apart and a dumbbell in each hand. Keep back straight and arms by your side.
- Take a large step forward with your right foot, planting it on the floor in front of you with knee bent at 90 degrees. At the same time bend your left knee at 90 degrees, and rest use your left toes for balance.
- As you lunge, simultaneously bend your left elbow, lifting the dumbbell to chest level, palm facing you. Keep shoulders down and don’t bend knees beyond your toes.
- Come back to starting position and repeat on the other side. Do 15 reps on each side.
5. Push off Lunge:
Targets: Shoulders, Back, Glutes, Quads, Hamstrings
- Stand with feet hip width apart and extend arms overhead, with palms facing each other.
- Lunge forward with right leg, right knee at 90 degrees, left leg stretched out behind you, balancing on left toes.
- Bend your upper body slightly forward so that it is in line with your extended left leg. Keep the back flat. This is the starting position.
- Push off from the left foot, bend left knee and lift to waist level. At the same time, curl your fists and bringing your forearms to chest level, bending your elbows. This is one rep. Go back to starting position and continue doing 8 reps as fast as you can.
- Alternate position and repeat 8 times on the other side.
6. Warrior 3:
Targets: Shoulders, Back, Legs, Abs
- Stand straight with feet hip width apart, back straight and arms by your side.
- Step forward with your right foot, about 12 inches. Put all your weight on the right leg and extend your arms overhead, palms facing each other.
- Exhale and lift left leg to the back, bending your torso forward slowly till parallel to the floor.
- Keep your gaze down and focus on a single point on the floor to maintain balance as you stretch your left leg so that your entire body, except your right leg, is parallel to the floor.
- Engage your abs throughout and elongate your spine, stretching from the tips of your left toes to the fingertips of both hands.
- Hold the pose for a few breaths, stretching more through every exhale.
7. Cross Body Mountain Climber:
Targets: Abs, Legs, Arms, Shoulders
- Get into the plank position with your body facing the floor, supported by the toes and hands, palms flat on the floor. Keep wrists straight below shoulders and a straight line from head to heels.
- Draw your right knee into your chest, using only your abs, keeping right foot off the floor. Hold for a couple of seconds and extend right foot back into the plank.
- Repeat on the other side. Do 10 reps on either side.
8. Donkey Kick:
Targets: Glutes, Abs, Lower Back
- Get down on all fours, wrists beneath shoulders, knees beneath hips. Keep your back straight and head and neck strain-free.
- Engaging your abs, lift and extend your left leg straight back. Then bend your left knee and lift lower leg perpendicular to the floor so that your thigh is parallel to the floor.
- Try to lift left thigh higher if you can. Hold for a few seconds and then come back to starting position.
- Repeat on other side. Do 5 reps on each side.
9. Side Plank with Leg Lift:
Targets: Glutes, Abs, Shoulders, Obliques, Thighs
- Lie on your left side, right leg directly over left leg and left arm outstretched above your head. Place right hand on the floor in front of your chest.
- Raise your body, bringing your left arm in to support your upper body. Keep your left elbow directly under your left shoulder, left forearm resting on the floor, palm down.
- Lift your hips up, placing right hand on right hip. There should be a straight line from head to heel. Extend right hand straight up. This is the side plank.
- Keep your upper body steady and squeeze your side as you raise your right leg from the hip, as high as you can. Hold for a few seconds and then return to side plank.
- Do 10 reps, turn to the other side and do 10 reps.
10. Bicycle Crunch:
Targets:Abs, Obliques, Hips
- Lie flat on the floor, arms by your side.
- Place your hands behind your head. Raise your head and right knee. Touch your left elbow to your right knee.
- Feel the crunch deep inside your core. Now, alternate with your right elbow and left knee.
- Do the repetitions in a continuous motion, as if you were cycling. Your shoulders and head will be up all the time and your abs will remain engaged.
Some of these exercises are a little difficult, in which case, go easy on your muscles and only bend and stretch as far as you can comfortably. Also don’t shy from using props like medicine balls or rolled up towels to make it easier. As you do them, you will feel yourself getting stronger, firmer, and leaner. This guarantees that you’ll be mobile and strong well into old age, and you can wear anything you like, without worrying about flab!
Are you looking for a toned body? Which exercises are you trying for that? Share with us in the comments section below.