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At-Home Exercises to Tone But Not Lose Weight

Not everyone is concerned with exercising to lose weight; many people just want to tone and tighten the figure they already have, in the privacy of their own home.

Fortunately, it's possible to tighten and tone muscles with a minimum of equipment anywhere that there is time and space available. Here are three upper and three lower body toning exercises that should tighten muscles without causing any weight loss. Of course, it's always a good idea to follow a healthy diet and ensure you're eating enough calories every day to support your body's metabolism to get the best results.

Tone the Lower Body at Home

These are three fantastic exercises that will the legs and butt without reducing body weight.

Lunges

According to a May 2009 study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, body weight lunges were a highly effective exercise for developing lower body fitness.

HOW TO DO IT: Start by standing with the back straight and feet hip-width apart. Step forward with the right leg until it's bent and the left knee lightly touches the ground. Finally, bring your left leg forward and return to a standing position. Step forward with your left leg to complete a rep for the that side.

Start off by doing no more than three sets of 10 to 15 reps per leg for leg muscle toning without losing weight.

Body Weight Squats

By using only body weight — the legs will be toned but not overly developed.

HOW TO DO IT: Begin body weight squats by standing with feet about shoulder-width apart. Descend into the squat position by bending both knees until the thighs are parallel with the floor. Pause for a moment before rising back to the start position. Place your hands behind your head or on your hips during this movement.

Five sets of 10 to 20 reps should tone and tighten the legs and butt without building muscle or lose weight.

The Side Lunge

The side lunge trains the lateral muscles of the thigh.

HOW TO DO IT: Begin in the standing position with legs wide apart; begin the movement by stepping to the side and straightening the stationary leg to full extension. Push up with the side-stepping leg until standing again and step to the side with the other leg.

One to three sets of eight to 10 reps per side is a good start.

Read more: Lower Body Exercises

Toning the Upper Body at Home

There’s no need for a gym to tone the arms, chest, back and shoulders. These three exercises are all you need to tighten the upper body muscles and develop beautiful tone without losing any weight.

Push-Ups

According to an article in the December 2012 issue of the International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy, push-ups tone the arms and chest and even tone the core since keeping the body straight in a plank works the internal abdominal muscles.

HOW TO DO IT: A good push-up begins face down on the ground with the feet together, and hands placed shoulder-width apart. Keeping the back straight, start by pushing up until the elbows are completely extended and locked, then drop back to the starting position.

To tone the upper body, about five sets of six to ten reps will do the trick.

Reverse Push-Up

Try the reverse push-up to change up the way your upper body muscles fire.

HOW TO DO IT: Start by lying on the back. Bend both knees and arms with the hands on the floor above your head and fingers pointed toward the feet. Finally, arch your back while pushing up with the arms until both elbows are extended. This exercise looks a lot like a full gymnastic backbend or the Wheel in yoga. Return to the start position.

This exercise tones the whole upper body but with a little more emphasis on the triceps, back and butt. Three sets of five or six reps will powerfully tone the muscles without causing any weight loss.

Pull-Ups

A study in the March 2003 Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport determined that a pull-up program helped college-age women to significantly improve their upper body strength.

Pull-ups will also tone all the pulling muscles in the back, arms and forearms. Pull-ups require that the weight of the whole body is pulled up to the bar. A doorway pull-up bar is an easy way to include this movement in any at-home toning session.

HOW TO DO IT: Begin the pull-up by holding the bar with both palms facing forward and hanging (bend the legs if needed to clear the floor)). Now, pull the body up without swinging or moving the legs. Finish by lowering the body to the starting position.

This exercise can be challenging but is very good at toning the arms and back. Modify pull-ups — for example, have a partner hold your legs or use a resistance band to assist the move — when you're first starting out. One to three sets of four or five reps should tone without causing any weight loss.

Read more: Upper Body Exercises

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Things Needed

  • Towel
  • Fitness ball
  • 5 lb. dumbbell

About the Author

George W. Citroner is a freelance journalist covering science, medicine, and health.

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