Your Daily Toning Program
Looking to get in shape for summer? Using these exercises, you can improve your muscle tone, strength, and overall health.
According to recent research from Tufts University, women who weight-train twice-a-week can boost their overall strength by as much as 75 per cent.
Strengthening Your Lower Body
These exercises will strengthen your legs, buttocks and hips. They rely on your body weight to provide resistance. As you grow stronger, you can increase resistance by adding leg weights or using elastic resistance bands, sold in sports shops. Start with two to three sets of 10-12 repetitions of each exercise.
Target Muscles: Quadriceps, Gluteals and Hamstrings
Start with your feet hip-width apart or slightly closer. Raise your chin slightly throughout this exercise.
Take a large step forward with your right leg, planting your foot firmly on the floor with your toes pointed forward or slightly inward. Align your right knee over your right foot.
Throughout this exercise, keep your back straight and your knee behind the toes of your forward foot. Bring your left knee straight down until it is 2.5-5 cm from the floor. To raise yourself, press firmly into the floor with your right foot while extending your right knee. Return to the initial standing position and repeat with your left leg forward.
To step it up: Hold dumbbells at your sides.
Target Muscles: Quadriceps, Gluteals and Hamstrings
Stand in front of a chair with your feet hip-width apart. Keep your body erect and your chin raised slightly throughout this exercise. With your arms extended forwards, slowly lower your hips towards the chair as if you're about to sit. Just before your body touches it, return slowly to a standing position.
Keep your back straight, your knees behind your toes, your weight centred over the middle of your foot and heels (not over your toes), and your feet flat on the floor. If you need help with balance or flexibility, place a small board, 1-3 cm thick, under your heels.
To step it up: Remove the chair and lower your hips until the tops of your thighs are parallel to the floor. As you get stronger, increase resistance by holding dumbbells at your sides or in front of your chest.
Strengthening Your Upper Body
These exercises will give you the strength to polish the car, carry a suitcase and dig in the garden. They will also boost your performance in many sports, including golf and tennis. They are especially important for women, who tend to lack upper-body strength. Start with two to three sets of 10-12 repetitions of each exercise.
Exercise: One-Arm Dumbbell Row
Target Muscles: Latissimus Dorsi (two muscle groups that connect your shoulder blades to your hipbones)
Rest your left knee and hand on the edge of a bench or firm chair or lounge. Bend your right knee slightly so your weight is distributed evenly on both legs.
Lightly grasp a dumbbell with your right hand and let it hang straight down by your side.
Keep your working arm close to your body. Keep your back straight and your shoulders level. Exhale as you pull the dumbbell up towards your waist, stopping when it almost touches your torso. Inhale as you lower it slowly to the original position. At the end of each set, switch sides.
Exercise: Lateral Raise
Target Muscles: Deltoids
You can sit or stand for this exercise. If you stand, keep your feet hip-width apart and bend your knees slightly. Lightly grasp a pair of dumbbells and let them hang down at your sides while bending your elbows slightly.
Tighten your abdominal muscles for support during this exercise. Exhale as you raise your arms outward until they are parallel to the floor. Your wrists, elbows and shoulders should be in a straight line. Don't lock your elbows. Inhale as you lower your arms until they nearly touch your sides.
Strengthening Your Midsection
Strong muscles in your core-your torso-stabilize your body, allowing you to sit for long stretches without slumping or rake leaves (your arms move while your trunk provides leverage). Strong abdominal and back muscles help prevent back strains and also help power your golf swing and your swimming stroke.
Exercise: Reverse Crunch
Target Muscles: Lower and Upper Abdominals
Lie face-up on a mat or carpet with your knees bent. Raise one leg at a time, straightening each leg so that the soles of your feet face the ceiling. Raise your head from the floor slightly, placing your palms behind your head to provide neck support. As you exhale, contract your abdominal muscles (abs) to pull your legs back about 30 degrees towards your head.
Don't interlock your fingers or pull on your head, which can result in strained neck muscles. Use your abs, not your leg muscles, to do this. Inhale as you relax your abs to slowly return your legs to their original position. Do two sets of 15 reps.
Exercise: Oblique Twist
Target Muscles: Obliques
Lie face-up on a mat with your knees bent. Place your left ankle across your right knee and your left hand palm up on the floor perpendicular to your body. Place your right palm behind your head. Don't interlock your fingers or pull on your head, which can result in strained neck muscles.
Exhale, bringing your right shoulder towards your left knee. Your right hand should not pull your head forward, but simply support it. Do two sets of 15 reps, each side.