“Toning up” is a convenient little phrase that everyone knows but seems to take lightly.  I hear all the time, “Oh, I just want to tone up a little more” or “I’m happy with my weight, I just want to tone up.”  This is when I know we need to work on goal setting a little bit.  Looking toned is a byproduct of training (and eating) effectively for performance goals.

With magazine tips and workout videos shaping people’s views of weight lifting, it seems that the view of resistance training is skewed, cropped to a small glimpse of what an effective training program entails.  When implemented properly, a good program will make you stronger, more coordinated, and more biologically efficient at burning calories. It will change with your abilities and goals.

Also, the tips and tidbits you’ve picked up over the years are most likely random snippets of someone else’s workout.  You can use the gym in so many different ways for so many different goals, and each requires a different protocol.  Repetitions, exercises, resistance and intensity will all change with your goals.

The training program I’m putting in here is very generic, based on endurance goals.  I probably put more emphasis on lower body than most people, but your whole body will be targeted.  This is a beginner’s gym workout, a sort of crash course, starting with the assumption that you are starting from scratch. If you don’t know what an exercise is, please ask a trainer before attempting.

What to do now:

  1. Type of exercise: weight room- dumbbells, barbells, medicine balls,
  2. Timing of your workout: We’ll begin with two days of lifting. Warm up for 10 minutes at your base pace.  Allow about 45 minutes to weight train.  End with a 10 minute easy cool down.
  3. Intensity of your workout:  use weights that are at about 60-70% of your 1 rep max, or 1RM  (example, if the most you can curl for one repetition is 20lbs, then you will use 12 or 15 lb dumbbells). The weight should be challenging, but not so much that you can’t finish the exercise during the first two sets.
  4. Goal to focus on: Focus on your form and breathing.  You can steady your breathing the same way you would control it in any of the cardio exercises we’ve done so far.
  5. How to progress: For the first few weeks, we’ll adjust your workout mainly with increased weight and increased complexity of exercises.
Here are your exercises. Do 3 sets of 15 repetitions each:

Here is a summary of where we are in our workout program:

We’ve worked in slowly, but now you should be in routine mode. Keep these workouts progressing by staying on top of your training schedule and by challenging yourself to get stronger each day.