Body

How to tone your arms and legs

With enough consistency and a healthy meal plan it's definitely possible.

By Bronte Chaperon

A common complaint among gym bunnies (and non gym-goers) is a lack of definition and form - despite regular exercise.

Bingo wings and dimpled thighs - while perfectly normal and not a clear sign of unhealthiness - can be a cause of frustration for those wanting the elusive (and ever so unattainable) 'perfect' summer bod.

While Now To Love believes that bodies of all shapes and sizes are wonderful, we spoke to Les Mills Personal Trainer Manager, Norm Phillips, about how you can tone and strengthen your body - if you are so inclined.

"There are a variety of things that help," says Phillips. "There are exercises that target certain areas - triceps, biceps, glutes and thighs, abdominals etc.

"A routine or program designed around what a person enjoys is the key. Most people find the thought of exercise a chore and also relate pain as an outcome, it should be fun though."

Arms

The general consensus is that to tone our arms we must lift smaller weights with more repetition, as opposed to lifting heavy weights with less repetition.

But is this true or just another exercise myth?

Norm says rather than exclusively focusing on doing one or the other, just try to be consistent with your workouts.

“Repeatedly training three to four times per week is what gets the result. The method may vary though - e.g. lighter weights and higher reps for toning, heavy weights and less reps to improve strength,” says Norm.

“To build muscle effectively requires improved nutrition as one of the main building blocks is testosterone, this requires an increase in protein-based food and in some cases supplements.”

EXERCISE TO TONE: To help tone your arms try tricep dips - this exercise helps tone the back of the arm. Tricep dips can be done anywhere, you just need a steady platform that can hold your weight - like a sturdy chair or high bench.

HOW TO: Face away from your bench and place your hands directly behind you on the edge of the platform. Then lower yourself up and down, ensuring you bend your elbows so they flex at 90 degrees.

Legs

Having a pair of sleek and toned pins can be confidence-boosting - particularly during bikini season. However toning legs so they are strong and sculpted takes a lot of dedication - and days of sore muscles!

Norm says that in general, our ability to tone our bodies is impacted by a number of factors.

"Many things other than age come in to play here. Considerations such as posture, having had children, whether a woman is pre/post menopause and her exercise history are some key factors," says Phillips.

"Weight training has been proven to be very beneficial for women to help prevent osteoporosis and assist with bone strength as we grow older. Strength training using body weight will help."

To tone the legs, in addition to exercises that work and strengthen your leg muscles you'll want to improve your nutrition and change your lifestyle too - particularly if you are sedentary.

EXERCISE TO TRY: Got wobbly thighs that won't quit? Body weight squats are great for toning glutes and thighs.

HOW TO: To do a squat, stand with your legs a bit wider than shoulder-width apart with your toes slightly pointed outwards, then lower yourself as if you are going to sit on a chair.

Phillips says if need be you can use an actual chair to begin with.

"You can use a chair to lower yourself on to and then stand back up," says Phillips. "For toning, try a rep range of 15-20. Repeat three to five times based on fitness level."