Toned muscles can make you look slimmer in your clothing and help you feel more confident about the way you look. If a hectic schedule or no room in the budget prevents you from getting a health club membership, you can do all-over muscle toning exercises at home with lightweight dumbbells. Perform strength training muscles every other day, while aiming for eight to 24 repetitions of the exercises you do.
Nothing makes you look better in a sleeveless top or dress than sculpted, sexy arms and shoulders. Get them by performing bicep and tricep curls with your free weights. Tone your shoulder and arm muscles simultaneously with shoulder presses. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart while holding the dumbbells just outside of your chest. Push the dumbbells up toward the ceiling until your arms are almost fully extended. Lower back to chest level to complete one repetition. Engage your tricep muscles, along with the other muscles of your arms, shoulders and chest with triangle pushups. Get into a regular or modified pushup position, but instead of positioning your hands just outside of your shoulders, place them directly below the center of your chest with the middle fingertips touching.
A little extra weight from dumbbells can help you ramp up your leg-toning regimen. Simply hold the weights at your sides while performing lunges and squats to tone your legs and butt. Get sexy calves that make you look hot in a dress or skirt by holding a dumbbell in each hand as you raise up and down on your toes to do calf raises. Don't forget to work your inner and outer thigh muscles; get into a squat position while holding a dumbbell in each hand. Step about 2 feet out to your right with your right foot, and then step over with your left foot while remaining in a squat. Do these in both directions to sculpt your inner and outer thighs.
A strong, toned back looks great on the beach or in a backless dress, and it also helps improve your posture and reduce back pain from sitting or toting things around all day. Dumbbell rows are an effective way to strengthen and tone the muscles of your back. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, and then bend at the waist approximately 45 degrees. Extend your arms in front of you while maintaining a soft bend in your elbows. Pull the dumbbells back while keeping your arms close to the sides of your body. Push them forward again to complete one repetition.
Cinch your waist and work toward flat abs with core-toning dumbbell exercises. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart while holding the dumbbells vertically just above waist level. Twist your upper body only to the left, and then return to the center. Repeat this exercise on both sides, keeping your lower body and hips facing forward the entire time. This dumbbell exercise works the oblique muscles -- the muscles along your sides. Tone your upper and lower abdominal muscles by performing trunk rotations, but instead of touching your elbow to the opposite knee, hold one dumbbell at your chest for added resistance while alternately rotating to your left and right.
- Mayo Clinic: Strength Training--Get Stronger, Leaner, Healthier
- Yale School of Medicine: Using Free Weights for Resistance Training
- Georgia State University: Upper Body Strength Training Exercises
- Georgia State University: Lower Body Strength Training Exercises
- American Council on Exercise: Core Workout
Mary Ylisela is a former teacher with a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education and mathematics. She has been a writer since 1996, specializing in business, fitness and education. Prior to teaching, Ylisela worked as a certified fitness instructor and a small-business owner.