Toning, or strength training, should be an important part of your workout when you’re a woman. Dumbbells, hand weights and resistance bands often are overlooked for fat-burning cardio equipment. Whether you’re unsure how to use the equipment, or just too busy, know that toning equipment can provide a whole-body workout. From your biceps to your calves, and even your abs, you'll tuck and tighten. Before starting an exercise program, check with you doctor.
As you age, be mindful of keeping muscle mass and warding off the beginnings of osteoporosis -- or a loss of bone mass. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, women 50 years of age and older are at risk for developing osteoporosis. Nearly half of women in this age group break a bone per year because of osteoporosis, it claims. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, notes that toning exercises have the potential to lower this risk. Don't wait until you're 50 years old to start toning, though. Begin strength training in early adulthood to maintain weight, ward off Type II diabetes and sleep better while improving mood, advises the CDC.
Low-impact toning exercises strengthen flexing muscles, while limiting stress placed on joints. Use them to tone specific body parts -- for example, bicep curls for the biceps -- or combine them for a whole-body workout. Exercises such as resistance band squats, wrist curls and pelvic pushes, combine small, controlled movements. You can purchase resistance bands and hand weights online or at your local athletic store. Resistance bands are inexpensive, but save some dough and make your own hand weights. Fill bottles with sand or grab a can of pasta sauce or soup. A large bottle of mega-store conditioner will also do the trick.
As a woman, you should tone for future bone health and weight maintenance. But those love handles and flabby thighs scream for immediate attention. Mix in high-impact toning exercise in your routine for an energizing, firming and calorie-burning workout. Exercises that get your blood pumping but still tone, such as mountain climbers, step-ups, front planks and medicine ball lunge to chest passes, are a perfect mix of cardio and strength. Be careful, though. Some of these movements require balancing or involve tossing weights. Only do what feels comfortable, and stop if you feel pain or shortness of breath.
Scheduling and Considerations
Always warm up with standing stretches and light cardiovascular activity, for five to 10 minutes before exercising. Follow with a five- to 10-minute cool-down, doing floor stretches, if needed. Make sure you focus on stretching the muscle parts you'll be toning. Leave a two-day gap between high-impact toning workouts so your muscles can rest. Do two sets of 10 to 12 repetitions each, or until the muscle burns. With pelvic pushes, only do 15 at a time. When working with weights, gradually increase your weight you are working with when you find you can do more repetitions without the muscle tiring.
- National Osteoporosis Foundation: What is Osteoporosis?
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Why Strength Training?
- Fitness: Tone Up with Resistance Bands!
- American Council on Exercise: Dumbbell Wrist Curl
- Fitness: Spot Training: 5 Moves for Your Arms, Back, Legs, Butt, Shoulders
- American Council on Exercise: Mountain Climbers
- MayoClinic.com: Video: Step-up exercise
- American Council on Exercise: Front Plank
- American Council on Exercise: Medicine Ball Lunge to Chest Pass
- MayoClinic.com: Aerobic Exercise: How to Warm Up and Cool Down
Having studied at two top Midwestern universities, Catherine Field holds degrees in professional writing and patient safety. Writing since 2000, Field has worked with regional newspapers while publishing fiction online. She conducts medical communication research at a Midwestern medical institution and is slated to write a book based on her research findings.