The importance of toning your body cannot be underestimated as there are many long and short term benefits, some of which can be summarised below:
- Increased muscle size will help in the long term to burn more calories and reduce body fat.
- Increased performance in physical and daily activities. Strengthening muscles and muscle tissues will help reduce the risk of injury.
- Strengthening muscles through a regular exercise will help to preserve muscle mass as you get older, which we naturally lose as we age.
- Lowers the risk of developing osteoporosis by building stronger bones.
- Balance, stability and muscle flexibility will be improved by doing specific exercise e.g stretching, that target these aspects of physical fitness. Being toned does not necessarily mean you will be flexible.
- Toning the body will not only make you look better, it will also make you feel good about your own body.
- You can tone muscles throughout your body and in this section we will focus on the main areas of the body including Abs, Bums, Arms and Thighs.
It is important to include toning and strengthening exercises into an overall lifestyle plan that includes cardio exercise, flexibility training and being aware of your diet. To really see the definition achieved by having toned muscles you also need to be aware of body fat, simply the less fat you have covering your muscles, the more "definition" you will appear to have.
The muscles of the midsection are known as the abdominal muscles. They are located in the front of the body, in the center and along the sides. There are 4 groups of abdominal muscles, which together with the back muscles form the coverage of internal organs. The best way to tone up your stomach muscles is with an exercise that stresses the stomach muscles directly at the front and an exercise that hits the side abs.
The muscles of the abdominal region include:
- Transversus Abdominus - These group of muscles work on stability and protects internal muscles by sustaining a level of abdominal pressure. This type of muscle is often referred to when discussing "core strength".
- Rectus Abdominius – Located between the pubic bone and the ribs, once these muscles have been toned, they provide the "six-pack" appearance.
- External Obliques – These muscles provide the trunk with stability contracting the opposite muscle to the twisting of the body, and can be found both sides of the rectus abdominus.
- Internal Obliques – Inside of the hip bones bordering the rectus abdominus, these muscles are also an aid to the body when twisting. But work in the same direction as the body is twisting e.g. twisting the body right will use the right sided internal oblique muscle.
The Gluteus Maximus (the bottom) is the largest muscle in the body, and provides the main stability of the trunk holding the body upright in posture. Therefore keeping these muscles strong and toned keeps the whole body in good shape. There are a number of exercises which will tone the bottom and strengthen this muscle from thigh raises, lunges, hip extensions, leg curls and leg extensions just being some of the types of exercises around, which at the same time work to tone many other muscles.
The thighs are where the quadriceps muscles are located. These muscles support the knee and allow the movement of lowering and raising the leg the quadriceps extend the knee the hamstrings flex the knee. A series of lunges and squats are some of the exercises which can aid in the strengthening and toning of the thigh muscles.
Upper Arm Toning
The upper arm is made up of both the bicep and tricep muscle groups. Toned Biceps can be obtained with number of weight training exercises which targets the 'biceps brachii muscle' the most common of which is the bicep curl. The triceps 'triceps brachii muscle' make up two-thirds of your upper arm, so keeping them toned makes a big difference to looking good in sleeveless tops. For defined arms, do exercises that target your entire triceps muscle, progressively increasing muscle isolation with each move.
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