Toning Exercises for Women

3 types of exercises to help women lose weight and gain muscle tone

We all want that Hollywood "It" girl body: the lean, sculpted arms; shoulders that carry any type of clothing with elegance and ease; and beautiful, long, taut legs. The problem is, many women mistakenly think that working out will lead to big, bulky muscles and leave them looking more like Lou Ferrigno than Jessica Biel. With a few tried-and-true tips and techniques, however, you can not only feel healthier and happier, but also have the body of your dreams.

We all know that exercise is good for us. Weight training not only gives us physical strength and a sexy appearance, but it also boosts metabolism, combats stress-related fatigue and can decrease estrogen levels.

Women usually have no problem with cardiovascular training, as it promotes weight loss, heart health and toned legs. However, more often than not, women balk at the idea of weight training for fear it will lead to masculine, bulky muscles. Still, the reality is that women need basic weight training if they want healthy, firm, strong bodies.

The following are a few easy toning exercises for arms, legs and the upper body:

Simple exercises for upper body toning

One of the simplest exercises for toning the upper body is push-ups. The standard push-up requires no more than your own body weight, a flat surface and enough room to stretch out on the floor. You can also modify the push-up to incorporate dumbbells and triceps pulls for an all-over upper body toning exercise.

Easy arm-toning exercises

Strong arms not only look beautiful, but are vital to everyday life: picking up the groceries, your child, your pet, etc. Plus, we all want to ward off one of the most hated aspects of un-toned arms: the wave-jiggle — when you wave hello or goodbye and your arm continues to wave long after your hand has stopped. If you have ever experienced the wave-jiggle, you will definitely appreciate these arm-toning exercises.

The upper arm is made up of two main muscles, the bicep and triceps. The bicep sits on top of the arm and is the one that bunches upward whenever the arm is flexed. The tricep is the wave-jiggle muscle along the bottom of your upper arm. In order to properly tone your arms, you must exercise both of these muscles. Three easily performed arm-toning exercises to accomplish this are triceps extensions, triceps dips and bicep curls.

Basic leg-toning exercises

Our legs provide balance, support, strength and mobility. Weak leg muscles can lead to hip, knee and ankle pain.

There are a wide variety of effective leg-toning exercises. From lunges to squats, leg-press and hamstring-extension machines, yoga to martial arts, the legs are the luckiest muscle group in our body. Why? With so many different muscles making up the legs, just about every single thing we do impacts their strength and fitness.

That said, there are a few highly prized leg-toning exercises that everyone should incorporate into their workouts. Walking lunges, calf-raises (simply rising up and down on your tiptoes) and squats are the most basic, yet most effective, leg-toning exercises you can do at home or at the gym.

If you begin adding these easy exercises for the upper body, arms and legs into your regular workout routine, you'll notice a change in how you look and feel in no time at all.

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