Challenging, but not impossible, toning exercises


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I love cardio. Crave it, in fact. A good run leaves me pumped and ready to face whatever the day has in store for me. Unfortunately, I’m not as vigilant with toning and strength training as I would like to be. But when I combine cardio with toning, I feel stronger physically and mentally, so I’m aiming to be more consistent in my toning pursuits. There are plenty of trainers and fitness pros sharing their expertise online, so join me on my quest to reignite my love of toning and strength training. Remember, talk to your doc before getting started.


Yoga for toning

The one form of exercise I love as much as running is yoga, and it is a great way to tone without having to get equipment. Men’s Fitness approves of yoga for its ability to build muscle, saying that “yoga allows you to get the same muscle-building benefits [as bench pressing] by performing long, extended pushups, squats, and leg lifts. The results are well-worked muscle groups, which get stronger with each class.” Shape magazine also reveals some lesser-known benefits of yoga for women, including improved immunity and PMS cramp relief. Even better, both Men’s Fitness and Shape claim that yoga could improve your sex life.

Do You Yoga, a site dedicated to the yoga lifestyle, offers The 14 Day Yoga Shred Challenge, a free fitness course consisting of short but effective workout videos led by super cool yogi Sadie Nardini. Check out Nardini’s Yoga Shred for Toned and Strong Arms for a workout that tones arms and calms the mind. Nardini has just the right amount of energy to help you get through some of the tougher moves while encouraging you to work at a level that’s right for your body. If you want more, including Nardini’s intense Six Pack Yoga for a Sexy Belly and Core Strength Yoga sessions, sign up for the full class. Kristin Wilson of Do You Yoga also reminds us of the awesome power of the plank, as it sculpts and strengthens many areas of the body, including wrists, spine and booty. Yogi Erin Motz’s 30 Day Yoga Challenge for Do You Yoga, also free, includes a killer two-part core series with Pilates inspired moves and plank variations. Motz’s chill style lends itself well to making both beginners and more experienced yoga enthusiasts feel comfortable. Check out Do You Yoga’s 5 Key Yoga Poses for Men to get a deeper insight into the basic poses and Tone It Up’s Bikini Yoga for more sculpting with yoga.


Barre and Bells

I like a workout that uses several styles to keep me from getting bored, so naturally I’m attracted to Barre 3, a mix of ballet barre, Pilates and yoga. Barre 3’s YouTube page contains free workouts, including Standing Slim, a full-body toning workout you can do with limited space, led by Barre 3 founder Sadie Lincoln. You could also head to Barre 3’s website to find a Barre 3 studio near you or subscribe to the online video service for a fee and choose from a collection of workouts ranging from ten minutes to a full hour. For more ballet-inspired toning, check out Cardio Barre’s Lower Body Shred on the BeFit channel and CosmoBody’s Score Sculpted Ballerina Arms, led by trainer Katia Pryce.

Tone It Up also has a great mashup workout, Kettle Toning, which elevates the yoga toning concept by adding kettlebells to the mix. Kettlebells can be tricky to work with, so Katrina Scott, the Tone It Up trainer who leads this workout, suggests her Saved By The Bell kettlebell videos for beginners if you’re still learning basic body alignment and movement. This two-part workout series will help you learn how to properly perform kettlebell exercises and allow you to safely progress in intensity while toning you from head to toe. Scott also recommends getting professional assistance from a trainer when first learning how to work with kettlebells, which is a very good idea. The last thing you want is an injury, so move at a pace you are comfortable with and practice good form throughout these workouts.

One more trick to make toning fun: add your own music! It helps even a standard toning session feel new and exciting and provides additional motivation. In celebration of our spring training, here’s a fresh new playlist for you!


Spring Into Action Playlist

  1. I Wanna Get Better – Bleachers
  2. The Phoenix – Fall Out Boy
  3. Army of Me – Bjork
  4. Change – Candlebox
  5. In The Hall of the Mountain King – Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross
  6. Feeling Good – Nina Simone
  7. Break Free – Ariana Grande, Zedd
  8. La La La – Naughty Boy featuring Sam Smith
  9. I Was Gonna Cancel – Kylie Minogue
  10. Across the Universe – Fiona Apple