No matter your age, shape or size, most women have the same trouble areas -- mainly the stomach, arms, hips and -- of course -- the thighs and butt. Working a full-time job with other commitments, it's hard to get to the gym and work every area that gives you a hard time. But if you're willing to put a little bit of time aside everyday, there are several different exercises you can do to target all of your trouble areas in one shot.
Cardiovascular exercise should be a part of your daily routine, especially if you want to tone up your arms, stomach, hips, thighs and butt. Cardio is one of the most effective ways to create a calorie deficit, resulting in decreased body fat. Generally, the less body fat you have, the more toned your body looks. Choose exercises that engage your trouble areas; elliptical training, running, swimming, cycling and kickboxing are all excellent choices. Aim for at least 30 minutes of cardio five days per week.
Body-weight exercises can be a very efficient way to tone your upper and lower body -- they can be done just about anywhere and require no special equipment. To get the desired effect, high volume is necessary for body-weight exercises. For example, two to four sets of 15 to 30 repetitions will adequately work your muscles. Exercises that target your arms, stomach, hips, thighs and butt are your best bet to tone up the areas. Pushups are great for the arms, planks target the stomach, while air squats and squat jumps work your hips, thighs and butt. If you're feeling ambitious, you can combine a few of these and work all of your trouble areas at once with the infamous but highly effective burpee.
Weight exercises are the ultimate way to tone your muscles. Many woman forgo weight training, especially with heavy weights, for fear of bulking up, but they are actually unintentionally sabotaging their efforts. Working with weights does build muscle, but it takes an extreme amount of weight and time to look like a body builder, not to mention extreme nutritional planning. Building extra muscle will increase your metabolism, thereby decreasing your body fat. Using 2- to 5-pound weights is going to do little to work your muscles. Instead, step out of your comfort zone and choose weights heavy enough that you're only able to do five to 10 reps at a time. Use these weights to perform two to three sets of full-body exercises such as squats, deadlifts and thrusters, or isolating exercises like bench presses, weighted curl-ups and lunges.
The kettlebell is a very effective tool for toning nearly every part of your body. Your arms, stomach, hips, thighs and butt are no match for this cannon ball with a handle. The kettlebell press will tone your arms, the windmill will work your stomach intensely and the kettlebell swing will target your hips, thighs and butt simultaneously and leave you with a nice burning sensation. Because kettlebell exercises require such dynamic movement, you should begin with light weights until you have the technique down pat to avoid injury. Gradually increase the weight as your strength and skills improve. Aim for two to three sets of eight to 12 reps of each exercise.
Jen Weir writes for several websites, specializing in the health and fitness field. She holds a Bachelor of Science in exercise science from Montana State University, is an NSCA-certified strength and conditioning specialist and maintains a personal trainer certification from the American College of Sports Medicine.