January 19, 2016
Know more about free weight excercise
‘Toning’ is one of the most well known fitness goals for recreational exercisers, particularly females. Usually this phrase refers to a slim and athletic physique, similar to that shown below.
Toning is created through 2 changes in body composition:
- Increased muscle mass
- Decreased fat
However, this term is also one of the more misunderstood phrases in fitness circles, with many believing that weight training can be detrimental to toning and building muscle mass will lead to a more or ‘bulky’ masculine appearance.
Despite this, nearly all fitness experts agree that ‘toning’ someone’s appearance requires the two factors listed above (1). Both of which will require weight training, as this is both essential to muscle mass maintenance and increasing the amount of calories burned in a day to help fat loss (2, 3).
Because of this, we’ve put together a list of 6 exercises below that will aid muscle growth and fat loss to help you achieve a toned physique.
#1: Back Squats
The biggest contributor to the amount of calories burned in a weight training session is the total volume of work done, which is the weight lifted multiplied by how many times it was lifted (6).
Because of this, lower body exercises always have a higher potential to burn more calories than upper body exercises, contributing more to fat loss while increasing muscle in the exercised areas.
In addition to this, back squats are also one of the most efficient exercises for toning the legs, helping to encourage muscle growth in the quadricep muscle groups, which cover the front thighs, the gluteal muscles which form the butt, the adductors, which cover the inside of the thighs (7) and the calf muscles.
It is also easy to do, as it can be done with nearly any equipment, from dumbbells to barbells or with bodyweight.
Another lower body lift, with this one targeting the hamstrings at the back of the thighs, lower back and gluteal muscles.
One unique advantage to this lift is that it is usually the strongest lift a person can do, due to the large muscles used (8), allowing a greater amount of calories to be burned than any other exercise.
It also helps develop some upper body muscles to a smaller extent, and can help increase overall strength and athleticism (9).
This exercise also has many different variations of this exercise that can be used with different equipment including romanian deadlifts, single-leg deadlifts and stiff legged deadlifts.
#3: Hip Thrusts
This exercise is effective for toning due to its superior effect in stimulating the glutes, which it does better than even the deadlift or squat (10).
This is also a lift that can be performed with a lot of weight with very little injury risk, helping improve calorie expenditure. It can also be effective in improving back pain through strengthening the glutes and hamstrings.
It is also versatile and can be done with bands, bodyweight, dumbbells, with one or two legs, or with a barbell.
#4: Bench Press
This exercise is highly effective for toning the front shoulders, the chest and the arms, particularly the triceps (11).
It is also an effective exercise for improving athletic performance in movements like throwing or pushing (12).
This can also be done with dumbbells or it can be substituted with push ups to obtain the same benefits with no equipment.
#5: Dumbbell Rows
It also helps improve performance in sports like wrestling or rowing (15) and also helps improve overall capability in daily activities like carrying and pulling.
It can also be done with kettlebells or bands to help vary an exercise program.
#6: Pull Ups
This exercise is included because, while rows are effective in developing upper back muscles like the traps and back shoulders, pull ups are more effective for developing the biceps and the latissimus dorsi on the outer back (16).
It also requires very little equipment to do and can help prevent shoulder injuries (17).
The above exercises offer an effective and efficient means of burning calories to lose fat and developing muscle mass and offers a conclusive list of training exercises that effectively target every muscle in the body.
However, it is important to note that both each different exercise has it’s own unique benefits when looking to develop different muscles and shape the body a certain way.
As such, there is a wide range of free weight exercises that are recommended by different fitness experts depending on your goals.
Also, varying exercises throughout a programme has been shown to provide better results than using the same exercises throughout (18).
So, varying exercises with an emphasis on high amounts of work will deliver the best results and help provide a toned physique and improved health and performance.
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