This is one of the most common questions that I get from people that are just starting to workout or that haven’t worked out in quite a while. Women want toned arms and a flat stomach. Men want ripped looking arms and a six pack.
The answer to the question “What can you do to tone up your stomach and arms?” is not what you might think. The answer is NOT to do curls to tone your arms and sit ups to tone your abs. The real answer is has 3 parts:
1) Lift weights vigorously a minimum of 3 times per week.
By vigorously, I mean that you should use a weight that you can do for 8-15 reps on each set, and keep your workout tempo high. I recommend the 8-15 rep range because it’s light enough to reduce your risk of injury but heavy enough to still get the benefits of added strength and muscle mass. To make sure you keep your workout tempo up high enough take 1:30 or less breaks between each sets and between exercises. Personally, I use the stopwatch on my cell phone to time my breaks so I take the guess work out of it.
Also, be sure to focus on the big, multi-joint movements such as squats, lunges, pull ups, kettlebell swings (pictured above), etc… Single joint movements are ok for body builders or fitness competitors, but they don’t give you the most bang for your buck. If you are going to make the time to workout then putting your effort into the bigger movements will build more muscle and burn more fat.
2) Do intense cardio/metabolic strength training.
For your body to look tight and toned you have to make it do things it’s not used to doing. Cardio/metabolic training is the best way I know to do this. Our Bootcamp and Spartacus Classes are good examples of this type of training. It’s fast moving, utilizes your body weight for resistance, keeps your heart rate elevated, and forces you to challenge your physical limits.
This type of training teaches you how hard you need to work to really see big changes in your body, and it’s more about the challenge than the workout. You can’t keep doing the same things you’ve been doing and expect different results. Want those toned arms? Work harder. Want those six pack abs? Work harder. Want to look good in your bathing suit? Work harder.
3) Make good choices in the kitchen.
Abs and arms are made in the kitchen. Make good choices when you go to the grocery store and at restaurants. On the road to a toned stomach and toned arms working out is only half the battle. Your diet is the other half. See our article: 3 No-Nonsense Tips for Changing Your Diet for some practical ways your can eat healthier.
To get the toned look you want you have to both build muscle and burn fat. If you only focus on cardio you will lose fat, but you will also lose muscle. If you only do slow, max effort weight lifting you will gain muscle, but you won’t lose as much fat as you would like. Remember, you can’t flex bone, and you can’t see muscles through a layer of fat. Follow the tips above, and you’ll be looking and feeling better in no time.
“Other gyms use machines. We build them.”