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5 Excellent Toning Exercises That Target Your Whole Body

The desire to look more toned and have more muscle definition is a common physique goal among fitness enthusiasts and gym-goers alike.

If you are searching for the best toning workouts and toning exercises to reach your fitness goals, you have come to the right place.

In this body toning workout guide, we will discuss the ultimate toning workout, how to “tone” your muscles, and step-by-step instructions for the following best body toning exercises:

Let’s get started!

A thruster.

How Do I Get Toned?

When people say that they want to get toned, they generally mean that they want to see more muscle definition in their body.

Therefore, body toning is the process of building muscle and losing body fat because you must have enough muscle to see muscle definition and a low enough body fat percentage so the shape of your muscles is visible under your skin when you are relaxed and not trying to flex.

Therefore, depending on your current physique, you may either need to build more muscle, lose more body fat, or do both in order to get a toned body.

Even if you have not been working out consistently, you have muscles, but some amount of body fat covers them.

The higher your body fat percentage, the more body fat you will need to lose in order to see the definition in your muscles and have “toned muscles.”

Lunge and bicep curl.

On the other hand, people who are very skinny, often termed “skinny fat,” may not have a lot of total body fat, but their relative amount of muscle tissue is quite low, so building muscle will be necessary to get toned.

All of this is to say that getting toned is a process that typically involves both fat loss and muscle building.

Therefore, while you can perform body toning workouts, your diet will also be important.

In addition, exercise for getting toned goes beyond just weightlifting; your body toning exercise routine should include cardio in order to burn calories and lose excess body fat if you have lots of body fat overlying your muscles.

The Ultimate Toning Workout: 5 Potent Toning Exercises To Target Your Whole Body

Here are some of the best body toning exercises for a full-body toning workout:

#1: Dumbbell Squats to Overhead Presses

Although any exercise that strengthens and builds muscle can be beneficial in a toning workout, the best exercises for toning your body are compound movements that involve multiple muscle groups working together simultaneously. 

This not only activates more muscle groups for a full-body toning workout, but it also increases the number of calories you burn performing the exercise.

Because getting a toned body is a matter of building muscle and reducing your body fat percentage enough to see muscle definition under your subcutaneous fat, burning calories is a key component for effective body toning workouts.

A squat with an overhead press, also called a thruster, is a great exercise for muscle toning for these reasons. It works almost every major muscle in your body.

Here are the steps:

  1. Stand upright with one dumbbell in each hand held at shoulder height with your palms facing forward, core muscles engaged, chest up, and feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart with your toes pointing forward.
  2. Keeping your back straight and your chest up, bend your knees and sit your hips all the way back to lower your body into a squat until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Keep the dumbbells positioned just in front of your shoulders.
  3. At the bottom of the squat, pause briefly and then push through your heels exclusively to stand all the way up straight while simultaneously pressing the dumbbells straight up overhead until your elbows are locked out.
  4. Then, move back down into your squat as you bring the dumbbells back to shoulder height to begin the next rep.
  5. Perform 10-12 reps.

#2: Mountain Climbers on a Stability Ball

Mountain climbers are a great total-body toning exercise. 

Running at full speed during the move will increase your heart rate, giving you a major metabolic boost while strengthening your core, glutes, shoulders, and legs.

Doing this exercise with a balance ball rather than having your hands on a stationary weight bench or the floor makes it even more difficult for your core and shoulders because you have to constantly engage all of these muscles to keep the ball in place without rolling as you press into it and run forward.

For this toning workout exercise, choose the smallest stability ball you can find at your gym because the smaller the diameter, the closer your hands will be to the ground. This increases the muscular demand on your upper body to support your body weight.

You can also increase the difficulty of this toning exercise by placing your hands with a very close spacing on the ball—think diamond push-up hand placement vs. a regular push-up.

This reduces the base of support and increases your core and shoulder engagement.

Mountain climbers.

Here are the steps for this toning exercise:

  1. Get into a push-up position with your core and glutes engaged and your hands placed on either side of the top of the stability ball, which should be centered under your chest. As mentioned, if you want to advance this yoga ball exercise, place your two hands together directly on top of the stability ball rather than off-center on either side.
  2. Pressing your weight into your hands, alternate bending each knee and bringing the leg up under your chest between your arms and then returning it to the starting position. Be sure to maintain good form with your hips in line with your body. Do not lift your butt up into the air or allow your hips to sag.
  3. Move as fast and hard as you can for 60 seconds.

#3: Renegade Rows

This is a challenging core and upper-body toning exercise.

Beginners can skip the push-up component and work on the row, but advanced athletes should add the push-up for a challenging toning workout exercise.

Here are the steps for this core and upper-body toning exercise:

  1. Get in a push-up position with each hand on a dumbbell (preferably hex dumbbells to prevent rolling) with your palms facing in and the long sides of the dumbbell pointing at 12 and 6 on a clock.
  2. Brace your core as you bend your elbows to lower your body down into a push-up.
  3. Pause at the bottom for 2 to 3 seconds.
  4. Press through your hand to return to the top position with straight elbows.
  5. Then, keeping your core tight and your hips square to the floor, shift your weight off of one hand so you can lift the dumbbell alongside your trunk to perform a row, bending your elbow.
  6. Squeeze your shoulder blades in the back and then slowly return the dumbbell to the starting position.
  7. Perform a row on the opposite side.
  8. Then, begin another push-up for the next rep.
  9. Perform 10 total push-ups and 10 rows per side.

#4: Side Lunge and Biceps Curl

This is another great full-body toning workout exercise that works all of the muscles in your lower body and core, as well as your biceps.

Performing a lateral lunge also helps strengthen your hips in the frontal plane to help prevent muscle imbalances.

Here are the steps:

  1. Stand up straight with a dumbbell in your left hand.
  2. Take a giant step to the right, bending your right knee while keeping your left leg straight to lean into the right knee and perform a side lunge. Simultaneously, perform a biceps curl with the left arm by bending your left elbow as you keep your upper arm affixed to your trunk and curl the weight in front of your torso.
  3. Push through the right heel to return to the standing position.
  4. Perform 10 to 12 reps and then switch sides.

#5: Step-Ups

Step-ups are a great lower-body toning exercise.

  1. Stand in front of a plyo box holding dumbbells in each hand.
  2. Step up onto the box with your right foot, pressing through your heel, and then bring your left foot onto the box until you are standing on top of it.
  3. Step back down with your right foot, followed by your left foot.
  4. Perform 12 reps leading with the right foot and then lead with the left foot for 12 reps.

Remember, getting toned muscles is a matter of building muscle and losing body fat, so your diet is equally as important as doing consistent body toning workouts. 

To learn more about a muscle-building diet plan, check out our guide here.

A thruster.
Photo of author
Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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