Last Updated: 5th October 2016
Getting to the gym and doing exercise isn’t just about losing weight and burning calories. For many it is about toning the muscles. This is especially the case when it comes to the arms and legs.
Focusing on the specific areas is one of the best things that you can do. By working on the arms and legs, you’re more likely to tone those muscles, rather than see fat drop off from other parts of the body. The exercises below aren’t just for the underarm, which has been touched on here before, but for the whole arm, as well as the legs, bums, and tums.
What To Do About Home Weights?
Before you start on the exercises, you’ll likely wonder how you can use weights at home if you don’t already have them. There’s no need to go out specifically and buy dumbbells for your workouts. Use grocery bags, tinned goods and filled water bottles to add the extra weight to your workouts. When you use them, remember to focus on posture and don’t push yourself to the point of injury.
So, here are your seven exercises to get working on today.
Lunge With Arm Raises
Lunges are great for toning the thighs and butt. They’re easy to do from home, and you don’t need any specialist equipment to do them. Make sure you work on the positioning properly to avoid injury.
Before you add anything to tone the arms, work on the lunges and get them right. You’ll benefit in the long run by waiting. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and step forward with one leg. Keep your toes facing forward and bend so the front knee doesn’t go past your toes. If you do need to do that, you’ll need to step further out. The back knee should be close to the floor and all your weight on the front leg.
Pull the front leg back in and stand up straight. While stepping forward and backward, focus on your core. You don’t want to wobble while get in and out of position, and to feel stable, you can tighten your core. This will work your ab muscles while also helping to improve your posture.
Now you have this exercise perfected, it’s time to add an arm workout to improve the tone here. You’ll need dumbbells or water bottles. When standing, keep your arms by your side, holding the weights. As you step forward, raise your arms so they are parallel to the floor. When you step back, lower them to your side again.
You may need to work on your core stability to be able to do the full exercise. There’s nothing wrong with reducing the weights in your arms to start, and you could even consider starting without any weights just to get used to the movement.
Repeat on the other side for one repetition. You want to do 10 repetitions.
Arm Row With Donkey Kick
This is one that you may want to do in your own home while you perfect it a grow in confidence. You’ll need dumbbells or water bottles for the full workout.
Start on all fours and kicked one leg out behind you. You need to keep the knee in the bent position, so the thigh is parallel to the floor, and the sole of the foot is facing upwards. Make sure your hips remain parallel to the floor and focus on keeping your core stable. Don’t let the back arch or sag. Return to the kneeling position, and then raise the right arm up. The top of the arm should be parallel to the floor with the shoulders square. Get your arm to your chest and then lower it back down.
Repeat this exercise on the other side. This is one repetition.
Now repeat this exercise for 10-15 repetitions to benefit really from it. Try to do it all slowly and controlled, so you feel the muscles working.
The Dumbbell Squat
Squats, like lunges, are excellent for toning the legs and bum, and will also help to engage the core. You can add a dumbbell thrust at the end to help work on your arms.
Like with the lunges, you’ll want to start by perfecting the squat. This can take time, and you may find you need a surface to hold onto gentle to make sure you don’t fall over.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and bend your knees. You want your thighs to be parallel to the ground without the knees going over your toes. Your bum shouldn’t stick out too far, and your back should remain straight. You will feel it working on the backs of your thighs and your core if you are doing this properly, and there shouldn’t be the feeling of you falling backwards.
Now that you have this perfected, it’s time to add the dumbbell thrust. With your weights, when you stand up straight, push your arms up into the air. Lower them to your chest when you squat again. Do 20 of these if you can.
Bridge With Dumbbells
The glute bridge is a fun exercise and will really work the back of your thighs and into your bum. It really engages your core, too, tightening your abs. By adding some dumbbells or arm weights, you’ll be able to tone your arms at the same time.
The glute bridge isn’t too hard an exercise to master. Start by laying on your back with the soles of your feet on the floor. As you start mastering the exercise, you can start with your arms at the side of you with your palms down by your bum to offer some support.
Raise your back and bum off the floor, keeping your chest, stomach, hips and thighs in line with each other. Concentrate on holding the core to keep yourself stable. Lower yourself back down to the mat.
Once you’ve gotten used to this exercise, it’s time to add the arm weights. Place your arms to the side with a weight of each arm. Before you lift your bum off the floor, raise your arms so the weights are above you in a straight line. Now do the glute bridge. Lower your body and then lower your arms. Doing it this way just ensures extra stability to avoid injury.
You’ll need to hold the position for about 30 seconds to make the most of it. If you feel yourself wobbling, lower yourself sooner to avoid injury.
Repeat the exercise 15 times to get the most of your workout.
Not all toning workouts are going to be weight based. Some of them just involve your bodyweight and a bit of cardio. Burpees is one of them, and you’re not going to like them during the exercises. You’ll soon feel the benefits, though, and they will be worth the effort. These are also great for burning calories first thing in a morning!
Start in the push-up position on the floor. Do a pushup and then jump up into the air. Lower yourself into a squat position, before getting back down to the pushup position.
This is one repetition. Try to do 10 of these to really feel the burn in the muscles.
These are one of those exercises that the military loves to do, and it’s because they are painful, but they are so beneficial at the same time. Just make sure you do them before your breakfast and not after!
Another bodyweight exercise is known as the Superman. There are a few variations of this so it will depend on your fitness capabilities. Try to work your way up to the most difficult one to see just how much you’ve toned your arms and legs.
Start by laying flat on the floor on your front. Place your arms up above your head and your legs straight out. Engage your core, tighten your glutes and lift your arms and legs off the floor by a couple of inches, so only your stomach, hips, and thighs are still connected.
If you do find this too difficult, you can do one side at a time. Lift the opposite arm to the leg when you do it this way. Repeat on the other side to count as one repetition.
Whichever of these two exercises you do, you want to do 20 repetitions to feel it. You should start to feel it most in your glutes and core, but your thighs and arms will also start to feel the burn over time.
If laying flat on the floor isn’t possible, you can do this on your hands and knees. You’ll need to do one arm and leg, and make sure your back remains straight at all times. Watch out for the wobble, and keep your core engaged to avoid this.
To make the original exercise harder, you can do it from the plank position. Planks are great for toning the core, glutes, and thighs, and take the time to master just right. The aim is to keep your back and bum completely straight while you hold your body off the floor on your elbows—or your hands if you’re really pushing it.
While you’re in the plank position, lift one leg and one arm (opposites) off the floor. Put them both out straight, while keeping your back straight. Lower them and then move onto the other side. Repeat as many times as you can while you hold the plank for 30 seconds. Move your way up to 1 minute of holding the plank position.
Exercise Ball Leg Curl
Exercise balls are great for overall fitness and toning. Just sitting on one daily can help to keep your core stable.
You can also use them for general exercises. The wobble of the ball encourages you to further engage your core and tighten all your muscles. Making them work harder helps to build more muscle. As you get used to the main exercise, you can add dumbbells to work on your arm toning.
Start by laying on your back, with the heels of your feet on the exercise ball. Lift yourself up as if you are doing a glute bridge, but keeping your legs straight. Now, curl your legs inwards to pull the exercise ball to your bum. Try to get your thighs so they face straight up from the ground with your knees facing the ceiling. You may not get the ball all the way to your bum depending on the length of your legs!
Straighten your legs back out and then repeat by pulling them back in. You don’t want the bum to lower back onto the ground. Try to do 5 repetitions at least before you lower. Ten repetitions will be even better.
To tone the arms, you can add in arm raises with weights. As you bring the ball towards you, raise the arms up above you and then lower them when you push the ball back out. You’ll really need to work on your core to make sure you get the most from this exercise.
All of these exercises can be done from the comfort of your own home. There’s no need to invest in a gym membership if you don’t want, but they can all also be done in the gym if you like it there. At least with the gym you can easily increase or lower the weight of your dumbbells to work on the toning of your arms.
Make sure you focus on the glutes and core when you are working on these exercises. This will help to keep your posture just right and protect you from injury. You’ll also find that you tone the arms and legs much quicker, as you’re working for the correct muscle groups. At the same time, your lower back and abs will strengthen, so you’ll feel less pain in these areas throughout the day.
Give yourself a couple of days rest between doing the exercises. This gives the muscles a chance to recover and repair, ready for you to work on them again and really build the toning in your target areas.
The overall effects of doing these exercises will stay with you and will even get better in time. Not only should it be visible in the physical aspect, the inspiration to improve further should give you a positive disposition which will emanate from within.