Many people dream of showing off a toned body, but visiting a gym or buying a set of free weights for a home workout isn't practical if your life is hectic or you're on a budget. But don't give up on your toned dreams just yet; toning bars, which you can buy in many lengths and weights, are just the tool to use to get the look you've long desired.
Few people wouldn't jump at the chance to show off toned shoulders at the beach or in a sleeveless dress, and a toning bar can help you achieve this goal. The row and raise exercise, in which you hold the bar in one hand with your arm straight out, parallel to the floor, is an effective way to work your shoulders and also your triceps. Another simple way to tone your shoulders is to hold the bar in front of you with your arms extended and turn it left and right, as though you're driving a car.
Body-weight exercises such as squats and lunges are ideal ways to tone your thighs, and when you add a toning bar to each exercise, you'll increase the resistance and speed up the toning process. A lunge with a toning bar requires the same movement as a standard lunge, except you hold the bar across your shoulders, directly behind your neck. For a toning bar squat, cross your arms in front of you and hold the bar in front of your shoulders while performing the squat.
To work your biceps, hold the toning bar in front of your thighs with an underhand grip and curl it upward as though you're curling a barbell or two dumbbells. To target your biceps and triceps, hold the bar in front of your thighs with an overhand grip and bend your arms to lift the bar to chest level and then lift your arms to move the bar directly overhead. Bend your elbows to lower the bar to behind your head, and then straighten your arms to target your triceps.
Stretching and Considerations
Using a toning bar can put a strain on your muscles, so it's important to devote time to stretching before starting your workout. Stretching your major muscle groups is ideal before any vigorous activity, but always concentrate on the areas you'll be exercising. Use dynamic stretching before your workout and static stretching afterward, recommends "Shape" magazine. A simple dynamic stretch that targets your chest and shoulders is the wall stretch; stand with your back to the wall and expand your chest, bend your arms and hold the backs of your arms against the wall. Keeping them pressed against the wall, slide them from beside your torso to above your head and repeat this exercise for 10 full reps. Before adopting a new workout regimen, speak to your doctor to ensure the workout is suitable for you.
Toronto-based journalist William McCoy has been writing since 1997, specializing in topics such as sports, nutrition and health. He serves as the Studio's sports and recreation section expert. McCoy is a journalism graduate of Ryerson University.