Total Body Toning Practice

Tone from head to toe...Screen shot 2011-06-03 at 6.26.20 PM

In the end strength training, body-building and toning are all basically the same thing, with the same intention of improving strength, developing muscle tone, and increasing the metabolic rate. However, each term implies a more specific focus:

  • Body building focuses more on building and developing muscles while decreasing body fat,
  • Toning seeks to sculpt and define your existing muscles obtaining a slender physique.
  • But both focus on strength training, as well as giving emphasis to adequate rest and food intake.

This practice focuses on the toning aspect with a focus on resistance exercises that target the major muscle groups of the upper and lower body, along with the core.

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You can expect: increased strength

Level of Effort: Moderate

Time Involved: 20 minutes (or more)


Getting Started:

  1. Define any specific goals you may have for toning
  2. Determine your workout parameters
  3. Determine your program schedule
  4. Toning routine examples
  5. Warm up and Cool down with each workout
  6. Write in your activity journal


What to Consider:


1. Define any specific goals you may have for toning

Define any specific goals you may have for toning, such as upper arms, abs, etc. That way you can add in more exercises that focus on those areas. Like your cardio, set up your strength workout to meet your goals and focus on that during the workout. For example, if you're working on fitness and weight loss, you may want to start with a total body routine 2-3 days a week with a couple of exercises per muscle group. If you're trying to build muscle, you may choose a split routine to give each muscle the attention it needs.


2. Determine your workout parameters

Sets - A set is a group of successive repetitions performed without resting. A repetition (rep) is the number of times you repeat the move in each set. Therefore, if your instructions were to do 3 sets of 12 (3 x 12) biceps curls, you would curl the weight 12 times in a row to complete the first set. Then you'd put the weight down, rest a moment and do 12 more in a row to complete the second set, and so on until you've finished the prescribed number of sets for that exercise.

Speed - A reasonable training pace is 1-2 seconds for the lifting (concentric) portion of the exercise and 3-4 seconds for the lowering (eccentric) portion of the move. Fast, jerky movements should be avoided. They place undue stress on the muscle and connective tissue at the beginning of the movement, substantially increasing the likelihood of an injury. Fast lifting also cheats you out of some of the strength benefits. When lifting at a fast pace, momentum (not the muscle) is doing a good deal of the work.

Repetitions - The number of repetitions chosen for each exercise depends on the amount of resistance (weight) you're using. A safe and productive training recommendation would be 8-12 repetitions using 70% to 80% of maximum resistance.

  • Maximum resistance is the most weight you can lift one time with proper form.
  • In general, most people can complete:
    • 6 repetitions with 85% of their maximum resistance (training beyond this increases injury)
    • 8 repetitions with 80% of maximum resistance
    • 10 repetitions with 75% of maximum resistance
    • 12 repetitions with 70% of maximum resistance
    • 14 repetitions with 65% of maximum resistance (training with less than this decreases strength gains)

How many reps and sets you do will depend on your goals:

  • For building muscle = it's usually 3 or more sets of 6-10 reps
  • For muscle toning and defining = 2 or more sets of 8-12 reps
  • For strength and endurance = 2 or more sets of 12-16 reps

Weight - the amount of weight a person considers light will vary. Essentially you will want to determine the scale for yourself but can use the following guidelines to assist you:

  • Light - usually between 5-8 pounds; amount that you can lift with relative ease and complete many sets of an exercise.
  • Medium - around 10 pounds
  • Heavy - 15+ pounds; amount that is difficult to lift and you can only complete about 8-10 repetitions with good form
  • If a weight is so heavy that you have to jerk, bounce or swing to get it to the top of the movement, it's too heavy.

As your muscles adapt to a given exercise, you will need to gradually increase the resistance or the repetitions to promote further gains. This is known as progressive resistance. You should start out with a weight that allows you to do at least 8 repetitions of a particular exercise. Once you can complete 12 repetitions with that weight (or the number required for your particular strength program), you increase the weight by about 5 percent. Now, you're doing 8 repetitions with the slightly heavier weight. Once you've worked up to 12 repetitions with the heavier weight, you increase it by another 5 percent (or no more than 10%) and go back to doing 8 repetitions. The idea is to keep alternately increasing repetitions and resistance, so that you continue to see results.

Types of equipment that could be used in strength training:

  • Weight machines
  • Dumbbells
  • Resistance Band
  • Body Weight (no equipment)


3. Determine your program schedule

Frequency and Duration - When it comes to strength training, the general rule is to work all your muscle groups at least twice a week for basic strength and health gains. But, beyond that, how you set up your program will depend on your goals and fitness level

  • Determine how many times per week you will perform your upper body exercises
  • Determine how long each training session will be

Strength training sessions should be scheduled no more frequently than every other day, because the muscle recovery process takes at least 48 hours. Increases in muscle size and strength don't occur while you're training, they occur during the rest period between workouts. This is when your muscles recover and rebuild, gradually becoming bigger and stronger.

Schedule it  - now that the elements are determined, schedule your workout. If you set aside the days and times you will perform your practice you are more likely to stick to it. Remember the idea is to make it a habit, so schedule at least 2 weeks of sessions and don't miss or change them and you are on your way.


4. Toning Routine Examples

A total toning routine should include the following muscle groups:

  • Calves (Lower leg)
  • Hamstrings (Back of upper leg/thigh)
  • Quadriceps (Front of upper leg / thigh)
  • Abductors & Adductors (Hips)
  • Gluteus (Butt)
  • Abdominals (Stomach)
  • Lower Back
  • Upper Back
  • Chest
  • Shoulders
  • Biceps (Upper arm front)
  • Triceps (Upper arm back)

Major muscle group details: Learn more...


Basic Total Body Toning Routine - this workout targets all the muscles in the body, including the hips, glutes, thighs, chest, back, shoulders, arms and abs. It is short, simple and a great way for beginners to get started with strength training.

As for resistance, you can choose free weights, machines, resistance bands, cables or a mix of all of these for a more varied workout. Be sure that you use enough weight. If you're a beginner, it's best to focus on form before intensity. But, if you're experienced, use enough weight that you can only complete the desired number of reps. Resistance exercises for the muscles are a good Body Toning workout. These include use of handheld weights or a resistance band in a repetitive exercise. With regular practice, this creates a toned body that is not only supple and slender but also strong. Additionally, Body Toning increases flexibility and body.

Perform the following exercises, do 2 sets of 12 reps for each:

  • Pushups (chest)
  • Dumbbell Rows (back)
  • Back extension (lower back)
  • Lateral raise (shoulders)
  • Front raise (shoulders)
  • Bicep Curl (biceps)
  • Kickbacks (triceps)
  • Deadlifts (back, glutes and hamstrings)
  • Leg Extension (quads)
  • Squats (quads, hamstrings, glutes)
  • Calf Raise (calves)
  • Crunches (abs)
  • Bicycle (abs)
  • Plie Squats (Hips)
  • Leg lifts (Hips)


Three more example workouts:


5. Warm up and Cool down with each workout

  • Warm Up with a few minutes of cardio and stretching before each session: Learn more…


6. Write in your activity journal

Track your activity, duration, intensity and how you felt before and after the activity. Learn More...


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