Toning exercises act as a complement to your regular cardio workout. These exercises give your muscles definition without bulking up your muscles like a bodybuilder. Muscle generally burns calories faster, so toning your body might give your metabolism a boost. Most women feel more confident wearing shorts, dresses or short-sleeved shirts when muscles are toned. Women’s Health recommends aiming for two toning sessions a week.
The plank position lends itself well to modifications and focuses on tightening the core muscles of the body. A basic plank position uses the lower arms and toes to support the body in a flat position. Place your forearms on the floor right below your chest with your legs stretched out straight. Raise your arms up off the floor, supporting your weight with your hands for more of a challenge. Press your body up as you would for a push-up, holding the upper position. Women’s Health goes a step further, adding in weights and arm raises. Hold 5-lb. dumbbells in your hands, placing them on the floor directly below the shoulders. Raise one arm with the weight straight in front of you. Lower it back to the floor to resume the plank position. Repeat the raise with the other arm. This additional move amps up the arm toning along with the core muscle toning.
Overhead Shoulder Press
The overhead shoulder press is a simple movement that uses light hand weights for resistance. If you don’t have weights at home, grab two water bottles or canned food items. Your body should be straight and upright throughout this toning move. Keep your feet about hip width apart with your toes facing forward. Bend your elbows to create 90-degree angles while holding the hand weights or soup cans. Your upper arms should be parallel to the floor, with the lower arms in an upright position about even with your head. Raise the weights and straighten your arms above your head. Lower the arms back to the starting position. Continue raising and lowering the weights with a goal of at least eight repetitions. Gradually build up your reps as your muscles become more toned.
This leg toning exercise starts on the floor with you lying on your side. Your legs are extended straight out in line with the rest of your body. The arm on the floor goes straight above your head. Rest your other arm along the top of your body. With your legs remaining straight, lift your top leg at least 6 inches. Hold the position for a few sections before slowly lowering your leg in a controlled manner. Repeat the leg lift eight to 10 times on the same side. Switch your position so you are lying on the opposite side and repeat the exercise.