If you’re trying to start an exercise regimen, or just trying to enhance your own, finding the best exercises with results is important to prevent wasting your time or injuring yourself. Though many people swear by a certain style of exercise, the fact is, different types work well for different people. Yoga, HIIT, cardio, Pilates, weightlifting, karate, Tabata, plyometrics and Crossfit are each separate in their pros and cons and each ones work better for some than others. Yet, there are 10 basic toning exercises with results that you can do anywhere to enhance your physical fitness and tone your body, no matter what style of work out is best for you.
Squats are one of the best exercises with results and I do them daily. Do wide legged squats and then do some with your legs closer together. Do 20-30 per set and repeat at least twice. I like to do these right after my walk in the mornings when my legs are nice and flexible. You can do them anytime, however, like before you go to bed, or as soon as you get up. They tone your rear, legs, keep your core tight and increase your flexibility. They are also great for your calves. Be sure to keep your back straight and your arms on your hips, or directly stretched out in front of you.
2. Single Leg Raises
Lie on your back on the floor with your legs straight. Put your hands under your rear so they are nice and stabilized. This also helps keep you balanced. Now, raise your right leg straight up in the air so it forms an L with the other leg. Keep your core tight and do this 20 times, then repeat on the other side. I recommend doing two sets of these each day. This is a great exercise for your abs, your legs, and your entire core. You’ll really feel it the next day too!
3. Chair Dips
You can do chair dips anywhere and they are great to tone your arms. You don’t even technically need a chair. You can do them using a bed, a low table, or just do them on the floor by sitting down with your knees up, together and bent in front of you. Then place your hands behind your back on the floor, start to lift your body up with your hands and then sit back down. Do chair dips in repetitions of 20 and repeat twice.
Oh, the almighty plank! Who doesn’t love them, right? Planks are great not just for giving you great abs, but also great arms and a great core. The key is to keep your body in a straight line and focus on holding yourself up with your arms more than your abs. Don’t push your torso up in the air like you’re in downward dog, but also don’t sink your abs down to the floor, which can hurt your back. Keep your body in a straight line as if you’re pushing.against a wall in front of you. Hold each plank for at least 30 seconds and work up to a minute, increasing the time as much as you can from there. Do these at least three times or more for best results.
If you hate excessive cardio, then just try walking! I personally hate running, stairclimbers and elliptical machines, so I’ve been walking the last 8 years of my life and remained thin doing so. Walking is also great to take away the stress since it lowers cortisol, the stress hormone that can store fat and increase anxiety. Studies have even shown that though runners get an endorphin rush, their cortisol also spikes. If you’re prone to anxiety, try fast paced walking instead. Walking is great for your abs, can help you lose weight, and is great for your heart and joints.
6. Mountain Climbers
This is one of my favorite exercises for my abs and one that I notice quick results with the most. Get in plank position and then bring your right leg to your left shoulder, while still holding your body up. Then, put it back down. Repeat on the left side with the left leg, bringing it to your right shoulder. Then put it back down on the floor while you stay up in plank. Keep doing this and go faster as you can. It should seem like your climbing by alternating one foot with the other, though I admit it feels funny doing so on the floor. These are actually pretty easy to do if you can do plank. Start out with 10 lifts on each side and then increase it to as many as you can, working up to doing these for 1 minute each day.
Lunges are so great for your legs, and your rear. Do alternating lunges where you walk into a lunge, or just do them standing still by lunging one of your legs out in front of you, then standing and removing it back. Then repeat with the other leg. Do 20 on each side twice daily for max results.
You don’t need weights, fancy equipment or hard-to-perform poses to get great arms and abs. That’s what pushups are for! If you can’t do what is called a “man pushup,” do the “woman pushups,” as we used to call them in school, with your legs remaining on the floor, while holding your body in a diagonal line. Place your arms in the same position you would to do a pushup and push up and down again. Do 20 and increase to 50 per day if you can.
9. Kneeling Leg Lift
This is one of my favorite exercises to also tone my behind! Get on all fours on the floor and make sure your arms are nice and stable and directly in alignment with your shoulders. Keep your hands on the floor and lift your right leg behind you in an L shape, as if you’ve got a weight cinched under your knee and you’re trying to lift it off the floor. Lower it back down and repeat again. Do this 50 times per leg and you’ll really feel the burn! This helps to lift and tone your behind, along with your hamstrings.
10. Side Plank Twists
This exercise is great for ab toning. Get into a side plank position and whichever hand you have up in the air, start to twist it underneath your body, pulling in your abs. Then, lift your hand back up in the air, like you’re tucking something underneath you and then pulling it back into the air. Keep your arms delicate and lengthened, like a ballerina. You shouldn’t be just dropping your hand under you and throwing it back into the air. This is great for toning parts of your abs that don’t get much attention otherwise through crunches. Do 20 on each side for best results each day.
I like to do all of these exercises each day and spend about 30-40 minutes walking and 20 minutes doing all the toning exercises. The great thing is, you don’t need a gym to do them, but could totally do all of them in the gym if you wanted and need a break from weights. These exercises use your body as your weight, so you’re still getting in all the benefits of weight lifting, without needing actual weights. What is your favorite exercise with big results?