Whole Body Toning Workouts for Maximum Muscle Definition


You have been working out, watching your diet and drinking plenty of water but you’re still not quite where you want to be with your body. Perhaps toning is what you need. For most people, getting a toned physique means getting lean by losing body fat and strengthening muscles. Toning your body will increase your muscle mass while burning fat, which results in more defined muscles, but don’t be worried because you won’t look like a bodybuilder. Combine regular fat burning cardio, strength training and a healthy eating plan to get that lean and toned look you desire.

Fast and Effective Workouts
Not everyone has the time to spend hours working out at the gym. With work, kids and social commitments, many of us are limited in the amount of time we can spend working out. However, if we aren’t fit, we aren’t going to have the energy to fulfill all of our commitments. You can tone your whole body in just a few minutes a day. Almost everyone can find ten minutes, three times each week to devote to exercise. Instead of watching television after work, take ten minutes for yourself and do a fast, but effective, all-over body toning exercise routine. Focus on the muscles that respond the fastest to strength training, such as your arms, shoulders, lower abs and calf muscles. Rest for 30 seconds to 1 minute between each exercise.

Start your fast workout with a warm-up by doing 2 to 3 minutes of jumping rope or jogging in place. Jump or jog until you just start to sweat a little and your heart rate has increased. Don’t rest, but go right into your fast toning exercises.

Calf Raises
Start by grabbing a couple of 3-5 pound dumbbells. If you do not have dumbbells, use bottles of water or cans of vegetables. Calf raises will help firm and tone your legs. Hold the weights at shoulder height with your elbows close to your ribs. Slowly lift your heels off the floor until your weight is on your toes and the balls of your feet. Hold the lift for 5 seconds and then slowly lower your heels back to the floor. Do 10 to 15 repetitions of this exercise.

Biceps Curls
whole-body-toning-workouts-curlsBiceps curls tone your arms, shoulders and upper chest. Hold a weight in each hand with your palms facing outward and your arms extended downward on each side of your body. Curl your arms upward toward your shoulders, while simultaneously rotating your palms and weights toward your chest. Lift until the weights are shoulder height. Slowly lower your arms back to the starting position. This is one repetition. Try to do 8-10 repetitions for this movement.

Leg Lifts and Overhead Presses
Next, move to leg lifts combined with overhead presses. Stand with the weights at shoulder height with your arms outstretched and your palms up. Shift your weight to your left leg, stretch out and lift your right leg about 2 inches off the floor, and at the same time raising your arms up above your head. Raise your right leg until your heel is about six inches off the floor. Hold the position for 10 seconds and then simultaneously lower your leg and your arms. Repeat on the other side. Try to do 10 repetitions for this one.

Squats with Rotation
Focus on your thighs, obliques, abs and glutes by doing some squats with a rotation. Stand up straight with your feet about hip-width apart. Hold the weights at shoulder height and keep your elbows close to your sides. Squat and rotate to the left. Hold for 10 seconds and then push your body upright as you rotate back to center. Repeat on the other side. To increase the workout toward your obliques, try to touch your left elbow to your right knee when in the squat position and then your right elbow to your left knee on the next squat. Do 10 to 12 repetitions of this exercise.

As your strength increases, you can increase the amount of weight by using heavier dumbbells or larger containers of water. Exercise on nonconsecutive days, such as Monday, Wednesday and Friday, to allow your muscles to recover and heal between workouts.

Bodyweight Workout
You don’t need equipment to get a great whole body toning workout. Your own bodyweight versus gravity can help tone, sculpt and strengthen your muscles while burning fat. Regular pushups are probably the number one way to tone and strengthen your upper body from the chest to the shoulders and triceps. Wear non-skid athletic shoes or exercise barefoot to avoid slipping.

Tone and firm your thighs, glutes and lower abs by doing some leg lifts. Stand with your feet about hip-width apart and your hands clasped behind your neck. Point your elbows forward at shoulder height. Squeeze your abs and then lift your left leg and bend your knee. Try to bring your left knee toward your right elbow. Lower your leg and rotate back to center. Repeat on the other side. Do 10 to 12 repetitions and then rest.


The side plank is a simple, yet very effective way to tone your hips, thighs and abs, especially those hard to tone obliques. Start by lying on your left side with both legs extended. Rest your body weight on your left elbow. Make sure your elbow is underneath your shoulder and your forearm is on the floor perpendicular to your body. Place your right foot on top of your left foot so that your legs are together. Squeeze your abs and push your upper body upward until your weight is on your elbow. Keep your abs tight by pulling your belly button inward toward your backbone. Hold this position for up to 30 seconds. Slowly lower your body and then repeat. Do 10-12 repetitions on each side.

After doing 12 planks you can rest your shoulders a bit by moving right into bridges. Bridges will tone your glutes, thighs and abs. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Keep your arms on the floor extended beside your body and your palms on the floor for stability. Squeeze your abs and bring your hips up toward the ceiling. Hold this position for 10 seconds and then slowly lower your body back to the floor. For an extra punch to tone your thighs and glutes, raise one leg off the floor after you lift your body into the bridge position. Lower your leg and then lift the other leg. Do 12-15 repetitions for this exercise.

Remember to warm-up before your workout and cool down afterward by doing some light exercise. Jogging in place or jumping rope are good ways to warm-up. Stretching your muscles afterward may help to remove excess waste from your muscle cells, which may reduce your risk of developing muscle soreness. Rest a full day between workouts to avoid muscle soreness and to allow your muscles time to heal and fully recover. Always make sure to drink plenty of water before, during and after your workout to stay fully hydrated.

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About Author

Robin Reichert

I'm an AFPA certified personal trainer, AFPA certified nutrition consultant, NASM certified youth exercise specialist, online fitness coach and freelance writer specializing in health and fitness. I hold a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of San Francisco and a Master of Science in natural health. I'm also an active member of the world's largest association for fitness and wellness professionals. See my profile page for more information!

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