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Home/Blog/How to Help Tone Your Body: Do’s and Don’ts

How to Help Tone Your Body: Do’s and Don’ts

By Ethan Boldt

May 15, 2024

How to tone your body

When it comes to our physique and how we’d like it to look, you don’t hear the terms “muscular” or certainly “ripped.” Instead, many of us simply want to look and feel more “toned.”

It’s a great word, for it doesn’t portend a massive change. Instead, it’s about simply making some changes in your life to tone up the bod a bit.

So what is the fastest way to tone and tighten your body? A combination of strength exercises (see our beginning workout below) and cardiovascular exercise. It’s truly not that radical or intimidating.

Be patient. You will get stronger each workout, each week. And within a few weeks, you’ll notice a more toned physique, maybe even muscle striations.

Of course, to achieve a toned body, it’s more than just exercise. It’s important to also follow a balanced, healthy diet (check out our article on the perimenopause diet) along with getting adequate rest.

Be consistent with your exercise (ideally at least five times per week), eating plan and rest to experience the best results.

Of course, you should always consult your healthcare professional before beginning any new dietary or lifestyle routine, including exercise.

In this article, you will find:

  • What is a toned body?

  • Benefits of having a toned physique

  • 10 toning exercises

  • Toning cardio suggestions

  • Tone-supporting supplements

  • 5 don’ts for getting a toned body

What Is a Toned Body?

A toned body can mean different things for different people. In general, it means having a strong physique alongside relatively low, normal levels of body fat, so muscles may be noticeable. The arms, abdominal area, thighs and calves will feel relatively firm to the touch.

Getting more toned is a combination of building lean muscle (not bulky muscle) and losing body fat. While you can build muscle relatively soon after starting a fitness routine like the one below, losing body fat (including stubborn belly fat) is a longer process.

Having a little more muscle and less fat can slowly transform your body into a more toned version. While some experts say that you can’t lose fat and build muscle at the same time, others say it is possible as long as you incorporate the following toning methods:

  • strength training

  • cardio work

  • adequate protein intake

  • a maintenance level of calories (or a slight deficit)

All four are key to getting a toned body.

Some people ask: Should I aim to lose fat or build muscle first? If you carry a high body fat percentage and want to lose a considerable amount of weight, then it’s better to focus on fat loss strategies first.

Fortunately, that doesn’t mean you need to remove any of those four toning methods. Instead, it’s just making sure that you maintain an appropriate calorie deficit for sustained weight loss.

Benefits of Having a Toned Body

While invoking the word “toned” typically only means aesthetics, wanting a toned body should be about your overall health primarily with the side benefit being a more desirable physical appearance.

After all, developing a more toned physique can benefit you in multiple ways, including:

  • Improved strength: Performing daily physical tasks becomes easier when your muscles can generate more force.

  • Improved stability and balance: For proper posture and stability, strong core muscles as well as leg strength are needed.

  • Greater levels of energy: Undertaking more regular exercise to get a toned physique will also help you get into better physical condition, so your daily energy levels will often be higher.

  • Boosts the metabolism: Studies show that a strength training session can affect your metabolic rate for the next 48 hours, compared to just two hours for aerobic exercise. Muscle, by definition, is metabolically active tissue. The more you have of it, the more calories you burn at rest.

  • Promotes bone health: Strength training stimulates bone growth and density, which can assist in helping to keep bones strong, particularly as one ages.

  • Better joint support: Contrary to the myth that strength training can be hard on your joints, it’s just the opposite. Creating stronger muscles with resistance training both supports and stabilizes joints.

  • Assists cardiovascular health: Weight training can help support normal blood pressure levels, heart health and circulation.

  • Support healthy blood sugar levels (already in the normal range): More muscle tissue can help promote normal, healthy blood sugar by using glucose for energy.

  • Improved mood: Getting into better shape will also help boost one’s mood and self-esteem.

10 Exercises to Tone Up

There are a million exercises. Going on YouTube or using an exercise app can be quickly overwhelming. Too many options.

Fortunately, you don’t need a gym membership or a ton of time. Here are 10 exercises that will tone and tighten your body.

The truth is that there are only so many muscle groups to train, and most exercises center around core movements of pushing, pulling and lifting upward.

For a toned physique, you will want to work on all of those muscle groups, starting with your core (abdominals, hip muscles, lateral trunk muscles and lower back muscles), followed by thighs (quadriceps and hamstrings), chest (pectoralis major), back (latissimus dorsi and rhomboids), shoulders (deltoids), upper arms (biceps and triceps) and calf muscles (gastrocnemius and soleus).

Below we feature one exercise per muscle group. This is a good beginning workout, for you can always graduate to two exercises per muscle group once you’re stronger. For more advanced workouts, you’ll also want to have at least two separate training days (such as upper body on day one and lower body on day two).

For this beginning toning workout, complete 8 to 12 repetitions per exercise. Do at least two circuits and repeat every three days. Work up to three circuits.

Equipment:

  • dumbbells

  • Swiss ball or flat bench

  • yoga mat

  • cross-training sneakers

  • water bottle

  • towel

Protocol:

  • Warm up for a few minutes before this toning routine, such as marching in place

  • 8-12 reps per exercise

  • 2 circuits

  • 30 seconds to 1 minute rests between exercises

  • Repeat every 3 days

  • As you get stronger, you can increase the weight, but be careful to not overdo it

  • Do some form of cardio (see below) 2 out of every 3 days

Forward lunge

1. Bodyweight forward lunge (targets quadriceps)

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Lift and move one leg forward far enough that your center of gravity is in the middle, not too far one way or the other, and your extended leg’s knee aligns with your foot.

Then lower yourself down until your back leg’s knee comes a few inches from the ground and lift yourself back up, making sure not to round your back. Return back to the starting position.

Repeat with the other leg. That’s one full repetition of a lunge.

If this bodyweight lunge is too easy, hold a dumbbell in each hand. If it’s too hard on your knees, then opt for a reverse lunge.

Stiff-legged deadlift

2. Stiff-legged deadlift (targets hamstrings)

Start with two dumbbells just outside your thighs. Feet are hip-distance apart. Knees are slightly bent. Hips are slightly tucked.

Starting at the top, lower the upper body while keeping the chest proud and sticking the butt back. Keep the back flat (do not round the lower back). Lower the weights to about mid-shin or just below the knees, then slowly raise back to the standing upright position while squeezing your glute muscles together.

Chest press

3. Chest press (targets pectoralis major)

Use a Swiss ball or flat bench. This version uses a Swiss ball.

With a dumbbell in each hand, sit on a stability ball with your feet flat on the floor. Walk your feet forward, and allow the ball to travel up your body until it is under your upper back and your torso is parallel to the floor.

Contract your core, and press the dumbbells upward. Pause at the top, and then slowly lower the weights until your elbows form a 90-degree angle. Press back to the top and repeat.

Back row

4. One-arm back row (targets latissimus dorsi and rhomboids)

Grab a dumbbell with one hand, and brace your other hand on a sturdy object, like a bench or a chair. Bend over so your torso is flat and almost parallel to the floor. Let the dumbbell hang at arms’ length in front of you.

Keeping your elbow close to your body, bring the dumbbell up and back toward your hip. Once you’ve pulled the weight in as far as you can, squeeze and hold it before lowering the weight to the starting position.

Shoulder press

5. Shoulder press (targets deltoids)

Stand tall with a light dumbbell in each hand. Bring the dumbbells to your shoulders with your palms facing each other.

Bring your feet to hips distance and keep your core tight and legs strong. Press the dumbbells overhead and finish with your biceps in line with your ears.

Calf raise

6. Calf raise (targets gastrocnemius and soleus)

Ideally select a step and grab to a stationary object to keep you stable. Place the balls of your feet on the step, with your heels hanging over the side. Your feet should be hip-distance apart with the ankles, knees and hips square to the front.

Slowly lift your heels off the ground, raising the body upward (not forward or backward). Tuck your butt under just a bit, and tighten the abs as you raise. Hold this position for three to 10 seconds, then descent to get a full stretch at the bottom.

Repeat.

Biceps curl

7. Biceps curl

Stand tall with a dumbbell in each hand. Keep your core tight and your shoulders relaxed away from your ears. Turn your palms away from your legs.

One at a time, draw the dumbbell to the front of your shoulder and then return to the starting position. Alternate between your right and left side.

8. Triceps press

Grasp a dumbbell in each hand and lie face-up on a bench or floor, with each dumbbell on either side of you and your legs bent and feet flat on the floor. Raise your arms to the sky, so they form a straight line.

With your elbow remaining in the same place and next to your head, slowly bring the dumbbells back down behind your head until dumbbells are close to your shoulder. Press back up.

Bird dog

9. Bird dog (targets erector spinae)

Kneel on a yoga mat with your knees hip-width apart and directly under your hips. Place your hands on the ground, about shoulder-width apart and directly under your shoulders.

At the same time, bring your right arm straight out in front of you and extend the left (opposite) leg behind you. Both arm and leg should be parallel to the ground at this point.

Hold for a beat and then return to your right arm and left knee are at the start position but not touching the ground. Repeat on that side for 10 total reps before changing sides.

Crossover bicycle

10. Crossover bicycle (targets rectus abdominis)

Lie flat on the floor on a yoga mat, with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Put your hands behind your head. Contract your core muscles and lift your feet off the ground.

Go through a bicycle motion by bringing one knee toward your midsection while straightening the other leg; at the same time, rotate your torso so you touch your elbow to the opposite knee as it approaches. Alternate sides for one complete rep.

Toning Cardio

Cardiovascular exercise is also important for a toned physique. Aim for 30 to 60 minutes of lower- to moderate-intensity exercise, two out of every three days (around five days a week).

Some of the best options:

  • Hill walking or on a treadmill at slight include

  • Running

  • Cycling

  • Swimming

  • Playing a sport

Body Tone Diet Principles

  • Drink plenty of water (and make your own electrolyte drink)

  • Have vegetables and fruit at every mealtime

  • Consume enough protein (at least 20 percent of your diet) as well as fiber (at least 25 grams per day)

  • Eat more fat-burning foods

  • Select complex carbohydrates like wheat berry bread, sweet potatoes and lentil pasta

  • Limit ultra-processed foods, fried foods and added sugar products

  • Consider adding the supplements below to increase your metabolism, burn more calories or build more lean body mass

Toning-Supportive Supplements

Here are the three groundbreaking Multi Collagen Advanced supplements:

1. Multi Collagen Advanced Lean Capsules

Collagen capsules from 10 food-based sources, Multi Collagen Advanced Lean is a supplement with a weight loss†** ingredient that helps you burn calories†* and boost your metabolism†*.

It features a proprietary fat loss blend that includes moringa leaf extract, curry leaf extract, organic cordyceps mycelium, turmeric rhizome extract, organic fermented ginger root, organic fermented black pepper fruit and organic apple cider vinegar. Select ingredients are backed by clinical studies.

Big benefit: Breaks down and burns fat.†**

†These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

*Due to key ingredient. Results achieved by day 7 in a 7-day human clinical trial with healthy normal weight and overweight individuals — at rest with no changes to diet or exercise.

**Due to key ingredient. Results achieved in a 16-week human clinical trial with healthy overweight individuals who used this ingredient and followed a reduced-calorie diet and regular exercise — compared to diet and exercise alone.

2. Multi Collagen Advanced Lean Powder

A collagen powder from 10 food-based sources, Multi Collagen Advanced Lean Powder (cinnamon flavor) is a healthy weight management* supplement designed to help you burn calories and boost your metabolism.

It features a proprietary fat loss blend that includes organic ashwagandha root extract and organic ceylon cinnamon. Select ingredients are backed by multiple clinical studies.

Big benefit: Promotes fat loss* and increases metabolism*

*In addition to a healthy diet and lifestyle, including regular exercise.

3. Multi Collagen Advanced Muscle Capsules

Looking for a post-workout supplement that can also give a muscle boost*? From 10 food-based sources, Multi Collagen Advanced Muscle Capsules use select ingredients to boost lean body mass. Features a proprietary muscle building blend that includes East Indian globe thistle and mango bark extract.

Big benefit: Boosts lean body mass and builds muscle

*In addition to a healthy diet and lifestyle, including regular muscle-building exercise.

5 Don’ts When Trying to Tone Your Body

Lastly, what should be avoided when you’re trying to tone up? Here’s a quick list:

  • Overtraining — If your muscles are sore, don’t work out; you need more recovery time.

  • Body obsession — You can check your weight and look at the mirror, but don’t get obsessed. Give the process time. And remember, muscle weighs more than fat.

  • A nutrition minefield — It’s difficult enough out in the world, with junk food everywhere. Try to keep your fridge and cupboard full of mostly healthy food, if not all healthy food.

  • Constantly grazing — Snacking all the time doesn’t give your body a chance to burn your stored fat. Try to go a few hours or more between meals.

  • Not sleeping enough — Getting enough sleep, between 7 to 9 hours per night for most adults, is crucial for supporting a healthy metabolism.

In order to avoid risk of injury, please seek advice directly from your physician, especially if you have existing medical issues, before beginning any exercise or nutritional program. Also, be sure to stretch after exercise to avoid muscle and joint tightness.

Ethan Boldt is the head of content at Ancient Nutrition, is co-author of the book 5-Factor Fitness and was a former Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) by the National Strength and Conditioning Association.

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