What are toned arms? We know we can do exercises to tone our muscles, but what does that mean? In fact, there are specific toning exercises you can use to look your best. But does toning mean the same thing as building muscle?
The best toning exercises can help you look your best this summer, whether at the beach or poolside, at a pool party this season. Working out is an interesting idea if you sit down and really think about it.
For example, building muscle is basically tearing your muscles and allowing them to heal. Microtears are why it hurts to work out, but they also signal the body to send nutrition and healthy blood to the muscle to heal.
That healing process causes a bulking of the muscle itself. This is all happening when you work out. Pretty interesting to know how that works on a microscopic level. But you also work out to tone the muscles.
The question is, what is happening when you tone instead of bulk up? Toning muscles is more about the body as a whole rather than just the muscles themselves. You can tone up by doing your workouts with less restriction or weight and more repetitions.
That’s because you are working on building muscle but also losing weight. This process actually works hand in hand. The less weight you use, the less bulk you will get in your muscles. But the more repetitions you use, the more fat you’ll use for energy.
You can easily see the difference there. Toning is the act of barely working out your muscles but also losing fat and bulking is simply tearing your muscle and forcing it to take in nutrients and healthy blood.
This is all to say that toning is not easy, but some toning exercises will work better than just lifting weights in a gym.
Toning Exercises | Lunges
Lunges are perfect for toning the legs and glutes (that’s your butt). Summer is filled with bikinis and swim trunks; we want those legs and butts looking their best. You can achieve this by doing lunges.
- Stand with your feet aligned with your hips and your hands resting on your hips.
- Take a long step forward with your right foot while also allowing your knees to bend. Your left knee should be just above the ground, and your right thigh should be at a 90-degree angle.
- Step back into the starting position and repeat with the opposite leg.
- Do this for 2 or 3 sets of 8 to 12 reps.
Many of these exercises can be done to either bulk or to tone. What matters most is the repetitions and the weights. For example, you can hold a single weight on your chest when you do sit-ups. But we won’t be doing that this time.
- Lay back on the floor with your knees bent up and your feet flat on the floor.
- Place your hands behind your head, and then using your abs, lift your upper body off the floor.
- The goal is not to move your feet off the ground or use any other part of your body to lift your upper half off the floor.
- Aim for 3 sets of 25 to 50 reps.
Toned arms are just as important as any other part of your body. In fact, a bikini showcases arms extensively, so let’s make them look great. This is one of the toning exercises strictly for arms, and you will get results.
- Stand with your feet aligned under hips while tightening your butt and stomach muscles and your hands down at your side.
- Turn your hands over so your palms are facing forward, and then lift them straight out and up to make a “T” shape.
- Return your arms down to your side and exhale; that’s one rep.
- Do this for 2 to 3 sets of 20-50 reps.
It is time to get back down on the ground; this time, we are aiming for your back. You can use this exercise to tone your lower back, to be more specific. You can also use this exercise as a warm-up before starting any other exercises.
- Lay on your stomach with your arms and legs fully extended. You should be in a “T” position.
- Raise your arms, chest, and feet off the ground all at the same time and hold for a few seconds.
- Rest your body back down into the starting position. This is one rep.
- Do 3 sets of 15 reps.
Squats are pretty much unavoidable, no matter what your goals. This exercise is great for your butt. However, this exercise also tones up your legs and makes them more flexible while strengthening your core.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your hands down at your sides.
- Bend at the knee and push your butt out and back as you squat down. You should also raise your arms out in front of you as you lower down.
- Push using nothing but your feet to return to the standing position; that’s one rep.
- Do 3 sets of 12-15 reps.
One of the best toning exercises is the triceps extension. This one is easy and can be done sitting or standing. However, it does require a weight. You could use milk jugs of water if you don’t have any weights.
- Start either standing or sitting with your back as straight as possible.
- Grab a weight and hold it in two hands. Lift it up and behind your head. Your elbow should be on the sides of your head, and the weight should be in front of your lower back. This is your starting position.
- Lift the weight straight up and over the back of your head, and return the weight to your upper back. That’s one rep.
- Do 4 sets of 8 to 12 reps.
Planking has been an exercise long before it was a social media trend. This exercise targets your core, a.k.a. your abs. It also will help tone up your muscles throughout your body, and it’s one of the most straightforward toning exercises you can do.
- Lay flat on your stomach and then bend your elbows to rest your weight on your forearms.
- You should be able to lift yourself up and rest all of your weight on your forearms and your toes. Keep your body as straight as possible and flex your abs. Hold this position for 2 minutes. That’s one rep.
- Do two reps within your workout.
Let’s get back to working on that lower body. This exercise will work out your legs, core, and even your butt. You can also toughen this one up by using bands around your ankles. Just be sure to focus on reps rather than resistance.
- Lay on your back with your hands under your butt. Keep your head and shoulders flat on the floor throughout this exercise.
- Lift both legs about 10 inches off the ground and spread them wide before bringing them together, crossing your left foot over your right foot and then back. Open again, then close again, putting your right foot above your left. That’s one rep per side.
- Do 2 sets of 15 reps each.
Toning exercises have to have a mix of cardio in them as well. The goal is to lose weight so that your muscles can show while also building your muscles slightly. This one is more of a cardio exercise with the goal of losing weight.
- Start with your feet together and your arms by your sides.
- Run in place but bring your knees up so that your thighs are parallel to the floor.
- There are no reps on this one; just aim to do it for 1.5 minutes each time you do it.
The last exercise that is perfect for toning your upper body is the pushup. But we don’t want to stick with the regular pushup; we want to add some cardio into the mix. That is where the criss-cross comes into play.
- Start in a standard push-up position.
- Do a single push-up by pressing down against the floor and lifting your entire body up so that your arms are fully extended.
- Continue to hold yourself up in the air while also moving your left hand over your right hand and then your right hand over so that you are back in a plank position before lowering back down.
- Lift yourself up again but this time, cross your right hand over your left. Your head should be where you started. The next push-up will be right over left and then left over right. Repeat the process with each push-up being a single rep.
- Do 3 sets of 10 reps.
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