As a Trainer, one of the most common fitness goals I hear from women specifically is they want to “tone their arms”. In this article, we take a closer look at what exactly that means, how to achieve it, and what is the best women’s arm toning workout.
What Does Toning Mean?
To “tone” a part of your body means to reduce the appearance of body fat by tightening up the muscles. This is often referred to as creating “long, lean muscles” or “sculpting”. Toning is achieved by improving muscular endurance which is accomplished by “high rep, low weight” exercises. “High rep” is categorized as over 15 repetitions and “low weight” is dependent on a person’s individual strength.
Benefits of Toning Based Workouts
#1 Strengthen your muscles without “bulking up”
There are two ways in which you can work your muscles; muscular endurance and hypertrophy. When we focus on arm toning workouts, we are improving muscular endurance. Muscular endurance is achieved by performing more repetitions using lighter weights. “Bulking” refers to hypertrophy. Hypertrophy is building muscle mass, increasing the size of the muscle. Hypertrophy is achieved by lifting heavy weights with much fewer repetitions. The sweet spot for building muscle size is reaching failure, meaning you cannot complete another rep, between 8-12 reps. Therefore, it’s important to keep in mind that “light weights” is relative, ranging anywhere from no weights to potentially 10lb weights or more for some.
#2 Reduced Risk of Injury with Lighter Weights
Since arm toning workouts typically use lighter weights, there is less of an inherent risk for injury. This is especially important for those newer to exercise who may not be as knowledgeable about proper form. If you are beginning an at-home exercise program, arm toning workouts can be a safe and effective place to start.
#3 Proper Muscle Recruitment
Everything in our body is interconnected and everything we do on a daily basis affects our body’s functional ability. Due to a more sedentary lifestyle, repetitive movements and past injuries, most people have muscle imbalances in the body. These muscle imbalances can prevent your body from functioning how it’s intended. Overactive muscles can overcompensate, which can lead to further imbalances. An example of this is the upper trapezius, a commonly overactive muscle on either side of the neck, “taking over” in a shoulder press. Many people feel excess tension in the upper trapezius during overhead exercises because the upper trapezius is overactive and tries to become the “prime mover” of the exercise. This often happens when people are trying to lift heavier weights. By using lighter weights, we can be more intentional about the exercise and have a better chance of recruiting the proper muscles in an exercise.
#4 Boost Metabolism
Arm toning workouts can help to boost your metabolism by building lean muscle. Muscle burns more calories than fat so the more lean muscle you have in your body, the more efficient your metabolism becomes.
The Best Arm Toning Workout
We love an arm burnout at AKT! This burnout uses light weights to tone all the major muscles in the arms and back. Grab a set of 3lb weights, turn on a high energy song and give it a try!
Part A: Targets Biceps and Shoulders1. Reach + Twist Side - 16x
Begin with elbows bent at about 90 degrees, palms facing up. Extend the arms straight out to the side while twisting from below the shoulder so the palm faces the back.2. Reach + Twist Up - 16x
Begin with elbows bent at about 90 degrees, palms facing up. Extend arms straight overhead to make a letter V, twisting the arms so the palms face out to the side.3. Alternated Side, Up - 16x
Part B: Targets Back and Chest1. Hinged Wide Row - 16x
Begin with torso hinged forward about 45 degrees, arms extended, palms facing back. Pull both elbows back, squeezing the middle of the back.2. Hinged Straight Arm Open - 16x
Begin with torso hinged forward about 45 degrees, arms extended, palms facing back. Keep arms straight as you open out to the side, squeezing the middle of the back.3. Alternate Row, Open - 16x
Part C: Targets Triceps and Back1. Hinged Straight Arm Raise - 16x
Begin with torso hinged forward about 45 degrees. Roll the shoulders down and back and lift the arms straight back with palms facing the ceiling. Try to keep shoulders above hip height the entire time.2. Hinged Squeeze Together - 16x
Begin with torso hinged forward about 45 degrees. Roll the shoulders down and back and lift the arms straight back with palms facing the ceiling. Squeeze the arms together behind the back, trying to touch the weights above the hips.3. Alternate Raise, Squeeze - 16x
Experience One of the Best Arm Toning Workouts at AKT!
At AKT, we offer multiple class formats that are full-body focused, and one class in particular that is dedicated entirely to toning! We use light weight, high-rep type movements to ensure your arms feel the burn and you leave feeling your leanest and strongest you’ve ever been.
FAQs About AKT and Arm Toning Workouts
How can I tone my arms fast?
Pair the arm toning workout above with regular cardio exercise and eat healthy, nutrient dense food to achieve fast results. This arm toning workout plan can be done 6 days a week to get results fast.
Can flabby arms really be toned?
With the right combination of strength training, cardio and a healthy diet, anybody can tone their arms. While it can be more challenging as you age due to decreased hormones and skin elasticity, arm toning workouts can help anyone build muscle endurance and achieve that toned arm look.
How long does it take to tone arms?
The length of time it takes to tone your arms depends on several factors including your current level of fitness, age, sex, and what exactly “toned” means to you. If you are an active person who has a strong baseline of fitness, it is possible to see a small improvement in your muscle tone after just one intense workout! If you are newer to exercise or a postmenopausal woman, the timeline will be longer. With consistency, anyone can begin to see some changes in 4-6 weeks.
Can I tone my arms in 2 weeks?
With the proper arm toning workout, you may be able to see some changes in just two weeks. If you’re looking for fast results, don’t forget about nutrition and cardio! Creating a small caloric deficit (burning more calories than you consume) can help you achieve that “toned” look. Keep in mind the key word is “small”. You still need to eat enough to fuel your body and your workouts.