What does “tone up” mean?
When people talk about wanting to tone up, usually they mean they want to have a more defined and sculpted body, and not necessarily bigger muscles. A toned-up body is a slimmer one, with noticeable shape and definition. Toned-up muscles are also firmer and probably a bit bigger than average-think Christian Bale in American Psycho, or Angelina Jolie in Tomb Raider.
To have a “toned-up” body, you need to have significantly less body fat so that your muscles are more visible. You also need to have done some strength training to bring out definition in your physique.
To reduce your body fat, you need to do regular cardiovascular training, such as running or cycling, and burn more calories than what you get from your diet. Strength training could come in the form of body-weight exercises, or you can use weights; you also need to be eating a healthy diet.
Can you tone up if you’re over 50?
Absolutely! Whether you’re aiming for a Greek God kind of toned-up, or you just want to get rid of those bingo wings, you definitely can tone up if you’re over 50.
Can you tone up in a month?
If you’re over 50 and it’s been a long time since you did any exercise, it’s unlikely that you will be fit enough nor capable of having a noticeably toned up physique in just a month. But that’s not to say you won’t lose a significant amount of weight--possibly up to half a stone if you follow a proper diet and exercise routine. After 6-8 weeks you should have some very noticeable results-it’s a marathon and not a sprint.
10-minute home toning workout
For the first two weeks of this short workout, just do one set of each exercise. After, your body should be a bit more conditioned, and you could try to add in an extra set to some of the exercises.
What you’ll need
Find a big open space in your home, and get either a pair of light dumbbells or some resistance bands. If you can’t get hold of any of these things, you could use bottles of water or cans of food instead.
Warm up and dynamic stretches
Jog on the spot for 2m 30s.
Arm swings - these are a dynamic shoulder stretch. Do 20 reps forwards and 20 backwards.
Choose a few of the dynamic stretches listed under the warm up section of our Couch to 5K guide.
Star jumps - 1 minute
Star jumps will bring your heart rate back up, and give you a bit more of a fat-burning aerobic workout.
Press ups on your knees
Albeit easier than a full press up, these will give your triceps, chest and shoulders a good workout.
- Get into an all-fours position.
- Place your hands out in front of you, shoulder-width apart.
- Lower your upper body until your chin is close to the floor.
- Push back up with your arms
- Aim for 10 reps.
Crunches predominantly work your abs and core.
- Lie down on your back and bend your knees. Put your hands on your temples and keep your elbows flat.
- Gently press your lower back into the floor.
- Lift your shoulder blades up from the floor while looking up at the ceiling. Keep your chin and neck straight.
- Don’t put your hands behind your head and don’t use them to pull your neck up.
- You only need to raise yourself up a few inches off the floor.
- Slowly lower yourself down to the floor.
- Try to do 10 reps per set.
These will help to define and shape your biceps.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing up.
- Slowly curl the weights up, and without moving your shoulders.
- Don’t swing your body or twist it in any way.
- Gently lower the weights back down to resting position.
- You can alternately curl each weight up, or do them both at the same time.
- Complete 20 reps on each arm.
Tip: Instead of a standing position, you could do these seated on a chair.
These will sculpt the back of your upper arms (bingo wings!)
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- With a dumbbell in each hand, bring one arm up behind your head and with your arm bent.
- Straighten your arm up to work the tricep muscle.
- Don’t hyperextend, and don’t use weights that are too heavy--the dumbbells you use should only be a maximum of a few kilograms each.
- Slowly bend your arm back down behind your head and repeat.
- Change arms after 20 reps.
Shoulder presses are an all-round shoulder-building exercise, which also work your triceps.
- With a dumbbell in each hand, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Bring each dumbbell up to shoulder-height, and press the weights up.
- Touch the dumbbells together to ensure you work the full range of motion of your shoulder joint.
- Do 20 reps per set.
Cool down stretches
Stretch your shoulders, triceps and legs. Hold each stretch for 15-20 seconds.
Aim to keep your body fat to a minimum
As mentioned at the beginning of this article, your body will appear to be toned if your body fat is low; you can achieve this by eating well and doing regular exercise, and the muscle-building exercises above will help to bring out your physique.
If you’ve been living a sedentary lifestyle for a long time, start with the workout above, then add extra weight, do more reps per exercise and perform more sets. Remember, achieving a good body is a marathon and not a sprint.