How to Get Lean & Toned for Women

Reduce body fat for a lean, toned appearance.
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A woman who wants to become lean and toned needs to pay attention to three areas: fitness, aerobic exercise and diet. Change comes with persistence and by setting small, realistic and achievable goals, not through potions, pills or exercise gimmicks, despite what advertisements promise. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides guidelines for women wanting to get fit, including engaging in at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise and two days per week of strength-training workouts. Combined with a healthy diet, follow these guidelines to tighten, tone and reduce fat in a couple of months.

Strength Training

    Use your own body as resistance to begin a strength-training workout. Complete exercises such as pushups, situps, lunges, triceps dips and pullups to tone all major muscles including your legs, hips, abdomen, chest, back, shoulders and arms. If you don't have time to work out every muscle group at once, break your sessions into multiple 10-minute sessions.

    Rest in between working out major muscle groups to allow your muscles a chance to rebuild and repair. For example, you could work out your upper body on day one and then work out your lower body on day two to give your upper body a chance to rest. Alternatively, you could work out your upper and lower body on day one, rest on day two and work out your upper and lower body again on day three.

    Add weights or use exercise bands once you get used to lifting your own body weight. Complete exercises such as biceps curls, bent-over rows, hamstring curls, hip-abduction walks, seated rows and squats. Repeat a particular exercise until you struggle to complete the last motion. While size of the weight is very personal, as a general guideline, use a weight that is heavy enough so you struggle to complete eight to 10 repetitions of an exercise while maintaining proper form, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


    Concentrate on proper form. Exhale as you lift a weight or resist against a band or your body and inhale as you return to the starting position. Perform both lifting and lowering motions at a steady, even pace, according to

    Choose an aerobic activity that you enjoy, such as bicycling, swimming, jogging or walking, or rotate between various aerobic activities for variety. Use any activity that increases your breathing, which can include activities such as mowing the lawn or walking to the store. As with strength training, exercise for at least 10 consecutive minutes at a time to enjoy health benefits, according to the CDC.

    Aim for a 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week. Exert yourself until you break a sweat and feel your heart rate rise, but can still carry on a conversation. Alternatively, work out a vigorous pace for 75 minutes a week by raising your heart rate a little more, until you can only carry on only brief replies to conversations between breaths.

    Increase your overall activity level so you can drop weight. Expending 3,500 calories equals 1 pound, so a 158-pound woman would lose 1 pound of weight in about 5.5 weeks by doing high-impact aerobics for 60 minutes a week, as she would burn 628 extra calories a week.


    Eat enough calories to lose weight at a steady pace without starving yourself. For example, to maintain her body weight, a moderately active female between the ages of 21 to 25 needs to consume 2,200 calories. A reduction of 500 calories a day would accomplish a 1-pound weight loss in about a week. However, extreme calorie restriction will actually slow down your metabolism and deplete you of the energy needed to exercise, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.

    Choose vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, seafood, lean meats, beans nuts and seeds rather than high-fat, high-sugar foods or refined-grains, according to the USDA.

    Cut down on carbohydrates to reduce body fat to give you a leaner, more toned appearance. A National Institutes of Health study, funded by the National Institutes of Health in 2011 found even a moderate reduction in carbohydrates from the diet can result in significant weight loss. Research subjects in this study consumed 43 percent of their total daily calories from carbohydrates and 39 percent from fat, compared to the standard diet of 55 percent carbohydrates and 27 percent from fat.


    • Check with your doctor before you start an exercise program if you are in a high-risk group, such as those with heart, liver or kidney disease, asthma, arthritis or diabetes, if you are a woman older than 55, are inactive, have high blood pressure or high cholesterol, according to

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