Resistance Training to Tone Arms & Legs

Build strong, lean arms with free weights or resistance bands.

Build strong, lean arms with free weights or resistance bands.

If you're arms and legs could use some work, resistance training is an ideal choice for you. Toning both areas through exercise not only increases strength and endurance, you'll also look and feel good in your favorite skinny jeans and tank top. MayoClinic.com recommends doing at least one set of 12 repetitions for each arm and leg move in your routine to start seeing results in a just a couple of weeks. Add to this number as you get stronger to keep your progress on track.

Types of Resistance Training

Resistance exercises are those that make your muscles work against the weight of your equipment. Free weights, resistance bands and even your body weight are tools you can use for your resistance training routine. Don't choose just one -- combining several forms of resistance exercise challenges the muscles in your arms and legs in new and different ways. Do two or three 20- to 30-minute sessions per week, including moves that target both your arms and your legs during each one.


With the wide variety of arm and leg exercises available, you shouldn't have any trouble finding ones you enjoy. Mix and match your favorites during each session for the most benefit. Push-ups, lunges, calf raises and squats are easy options that you can do anywhere. Hold dumbbells in your hands while doing squats and lunges. This increases your total body weight, making your legs work harder, and it also activates the muscles in your arms at the same time. Add biceps curls, triceps extensions and arm raises to further work the muscles in the area. Use resistance bands to do rowing and leg lifts. Holding the bands works your arms and the increased difficulty placed on your legs helps tone them and get stronger.

How it Works

When you lift weights, use your body or manipulate resistance bands, your muscles must work to get your body to do what you want it to do. For example, when doing bicep curls, each time you lift the dumbbell, your biceps activate. When this happens, tiny tears in your muscle fibers occur. As the damage heals, your muscles become more developed and stronger, which give you that toned look you're hoping for. Repeated movements of the same type are necessary for the most benefit. However, gains in mass and definition happen when you're muscles are healing, making it important to take a day of rest between each arm and leg workout.


Arm and leg workouts are ideal for getting the body you want. However, if you have excess flab on your body, you'll need to do plenty of cardio to uncover your arm and leg muscles. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that women get at least 150 minutes of cardio each week, though up to 300 minutes is effective for healthy weight loss. Combine cardio with resistance training to keep your weight under control and tone your arms and legs at the same time. Walking, jogging, swimming, dancing and biking are healthy forms of cardio.

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Eliza Martinez has written for print and online publications. She covers a variety of topics, including parenting, nutrition, mental health, gardening, food and crafts. Martinez holds a master's degree in psychology.

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