Muscle Toning Program for the Over 40 Fitness Crowd Part IV: Tone Your Arms and Shoulders

Are you over 40 and trying to stay fit? Looking for exercises that will tone up your arms and upper body? Try these exercises to build muscles in your arms and shoulders. Some of them will also strengthen your core and back as well.

Uneven Push Ups
Get into the classic push up position, only place a yoga block under your right hand. Now complete slow, deliberate push ups until you hit muscle failure. Rest, switch the block to under your left hand, and repeat until you hit muscle failure again.

Rest, stretch and repeat.

Bicep and Shoulder Toner
Find weights that challenge your biceps without causing you to lose good form. Stand shoulder width apart and pick up a hand weight in each hand. Bend your arm at the elbow in a classic bicep curl, bringing the weight towards you. Now rotate the weight by turning your wrist so the palm of your hand faces away from you, and lift the weight above your head, extending your arm and raising the weight to the sky. Lower the weight to the bicep curl position, rotate the weight by turning your wrist so you are back in the classic bicep curl up position, and return the weight to your starting position.

Alternate sides, challenging one arm and shoulder at a time. Perform curl and extension moves in a smooth motion, slowly and carefully. Repeat until you hit muscle failure in either your biceps or shoulder muscles. Rest, stretch and repeat.

Lawn Mower Starter
Pull up a chair and a hand weight. Bend at the waist and place your left hand on the seat of the chair. Pick up the hand weight with your right hand and pull it back as if you are starting a lawn mower. Return to your starting position and repeat until you feel the burn in your triceps and shoulders. Switch sides and repeat for two sets.

Butterfly Wings
Take a hand weight into each hand. Stand with feet shoulder width apart, with your arms bent at right angles. Lift your arms, keeping your elbows bent at right angles such that your upper arms lift like wings on either sides of your body. When your upper arms are level with your shoulders (with your elbows still bent), rotate your shoulders such that your hands are now above your head. Extend your arms, lifting your hands to the sky, and then bring them back down again. Reverse your actions until you are back in your starting position.

Repeat until you feel a burn in your upper arms and shoulders. Rest, stretch and repeat.

Side Plank With Lift
Lie on your right side in a supported plank position. (You can let your lower legs rest on the floor – just lift your upper body and prop yourself up with a bent lower right arm.) Hold a light hand weight in your left hand and lift it towards the ceiling, extending your arm in a sweeping motion across your body and up pointing towards the ceiling. Then bring the weight back down to the floor, reversing the movement. Keep your core rigid and unmoving, focusing your energy on a graceful, sweeping motion from the floor the ceiling and back again.

Repeat until you hit muscle failure in your shoulder, core or supporting arm. Switch sides and repeat.

Arm LiftsStart standing with your feet shoulder width apart and with light weights in both hands at your sides. Lift your arms up and out at your sides, extending your arms at your sides. Lift until your extended arm is level with your shoulders. Hold for a count of three and then slowly bring your arms back down. Repeat until you hit muscle failure. Rest, stretch and repeat.

A Note of Caution to the Over 40 Fitness CrowdAs you work your arms and shoulders, beware of:
• Joints popping or making noises they shouldn’t be making. If you feel that an exercise is stressing a joint or making bones rub in ways they shouldn’t rub, stop and modify the exercise.
• Pushing it too hard. You want to reach muscle failure and then rest your muscles before trying again. Two sets should be plenty for this mission. Don’t push to the point where you lose form, slouch, arch your back or otherwise compromise your overall body position.
• Weights that are too heavy. You should feel like it’s easy as you start the set and only gets harder after several repetitions.

Those of us in the over 40 fitness crowd need to keep exercises light enough to maintain good form. Preventing injury is as important and making progress. Keep that in mind as you tone your arms and shoulders!

Muscle Toning Program for the Over 40 Fitness Crowd Part III: Tone Your Lower Body

imagesCA47WNG4Are you over 40 and doing everything you can to stay in shape? The following exercises are the best toning exercises for your butt, hips and legs.

Butt Lifts That Really Work
Lie on the floor and prop your right foot on the seat of a chair. Reach your hands so you can hold onto the legs of the chair (to stabilize yourself and the chair) as you squeeze and lift your buttocks, raising your extended lift leg to the ceiling. Alternately relax your buttocks and squeeze and lift your buttocks, lifting and lowering your left leg until you hit muscle failure in your buttocks. Switch legs and repeat until you hit muscle failure for that side.

Rest, stretch and repeat for three sets of repetitions, being sure to hit muscle failure each time.

Outer Thigh and Hip Lifts That Get Results
Get on your hands and knees. Bend and lift your right leg, as if you are a dog using a fire hydrant. Lift until your leg is level with your hip and then return to your starting position. Repeat until you feel a fierce burning in your outer thigh/hip area. Then switch legs and perform the same exercise on the left side.

Rest, stretch and repeat for three sets of repetitions, being sure to work until you feel the burn each time.

Inner Thigh Toning ExerciseLie on your back. Spread your arms out on either side of your body to stabilize yourself. Now bend your legs at the knees and lift them both up until your feet are above your buttocks and your knees are bent. Touch your feet to one another and widen your knees, like a butterfly’s wings opening. Close the gap again, bring your knees back towards each other. You will feel your inner thighs working as you open and close the butterfly’s wings. Perform this exercise until you feel your inner thigh muscles hitting muscle failure.

Rest, stretch and repeat for three sets of repetitions, being sure to work until you feel the burn each time.

Quadriceps and Buttocks Toning Kicks
Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Lift your right leg, bending it at the knee, until your upper leg is perpendicular with your body. Extend your lower leg in a front kick, returning to a bent position. Then lean forward and extend that same leg behind you, keeping the knee bent at a 90 degree-angle until your leg is behind you. Extend your leg into a kick and then return to a standing position. Repeat 15 times. Switch legs, perform this exercise to work your left leg for 15 reps.

Rest, stretch and repeat for three sets of 15 repetitions per set.

Wide and Narrow Squats
Stand in a comfortable position, with your feet a natural length apart. Lower yourself into a sitting position, as if there were a chair behind you. Squeeze your buttocks as you return to a standing position. Now move your legs an additional foot apart and repeat the squatting motion. Then bring your feet back to a normal standing position, angle your toes so they point outward, and lower yourself into a squat with your knees angled out towards the sides, forming a triangle.

Repeat these three squat and stand positions for thirty repetitions. Rest, stretch and repeat a second set.

Precautions Everyone in the 40 and Over Fitness Crowd Should Take
As we get older, our bodies become more injury prone. As you practice these exercises, make sure you:
• Protect your back by maintaining good postures as you perform the exercises. If any exercise makes you arch or bend your back in way that feels uncomfortable, stop the exercise or modify it to protect your back.
• Listen to your knees! If they start to pop or crackle, be careful to move gently and smoothly. For example, don’t lock or snap your knees when kicking.
• Don’t overdo it. Sometimes we think that by pushing ourselves to the limit we’re going to achieve greatness when really we’ll end up injured and unable to exercise at all. Try these exercises a few times before you push it too hard. See how sore you are and if any of the exercises irritate a joint or muscle group. Modify or adjust to suit your body’s needs.

If you’re careful and take the slow-but-steady approach, you’ll get fit without injuring yourself. Once you’re over 40, you’ve got to take a more cautious approach to fitness. Your body will thank you for it!

Muscle Toning Program for the Over 40 Fitness Crowd (Part II)

PlankSo…. You want to get toned? Before you start in on the practical advice offered here, you’ll want to read Part I of this series to understand what will get your toned and what will waste your time. In a nutshell, you need to do the following to get toned:
• Lose enough excess fat that your muscle tone can show
• Gain muscle in the areas you want to be more toned
• Feed your muscles by eating plenty of protein

If you are already very thin, you will want to focus your workouts on the specific areas you want to tone. If you are not thin or have excess fat in the areas you wish to tone, you will want to work out all of your major muscle groups.

Why Work Out All of My Major Muscle Groups? Muscle burns more calories than fat. If you need to lose excess fat, you need to burn more calories in order to lose it. Working out one specific area does not cause fat loss in that area. It causes fat loss all over your body. As you lose fat all over, you will also lose fat in the areas you want to tone.

Muscle Toning Stage One – For Those Who Need to Lose Fat As you get started on your toning program, you’ll want to work the largest muscles first. This way you’ll jumpstart your metabolism and get the biggest bang for your buck.

You can do this by performing the following large muscle group toning exercises:

Lunge-Swing Exercise Combo
This exercise works your gluteus maximums, your quadriceps, your calves and your hamstrings all at once. It also requires you to tighten your core muscles, providing mild toning to your lower back and abdominal muscles. It is an all-over toning beast of an exercise.

Start in a standing position, with your feet shoulder-width apart. Lung forward, bringing your right leg forward and then sinking down into the lunge until your right leg forms a 90-degree right angle at your knee. Hold this lung for a count of three.

Shifting your weight to that bent right leg, swing your left leg forward, pointing your toe as you extend the leg forward (straight ahead). As you swing that straight leg forward (forming a right degree angle with your straight leg and your trunk), you will straighten your right leg, effectively standing up. Hold your left leg straight for a count of three, and then deliberately and slowly lower your left leg so you have returned to a standing position with both feet on the ground.

Now perform this same exercise starting with your leg left, lunging forward, holding the lunge, and then extending the right leg as you stand up.
Repeat this exercise twenty times for beginners, more for those who are already quite fit.

Plank-Push Up-Plank Exercise
To tone your upper and lower back, biceps, triceps, shoulders and abdominal muscles all at once, complete this exercise.

Start on the floor in a push up position, with your hands under your shoulders. You can rise up onto your toes (if you are strong enough) or rest on your knees. Lift up into a push up, hold it for one second, and then return to the floor. Rest for two seconds before lifting into a plank position and holding it for a count of five. Return to the floor again and rest for five seconds.

Repeat until you cannot hold your back and abdomen tight, keeping a straight plank position through the push ups and planks. If you find your arms weaken before your core muscles do, spend more time in the plan positions and less time in the push ups. Over time, your entire upper body and core will grow in strength.

Muscle Toning Program Part III – Toning Exercises for Smaller Muscle Groups Once you’ve got these large muscle group toning exercises down, you’ll want to add in smaller muscle group toning exercises. You can read about these in part three of our muscle toning series. (Stay tuned for parts 3 and 4)

If these multi-purpose large muscle toning exercises are too challenging, you will want to read part of our muscle toning program series. This is an article devoted to building muscle slowly and surely through exercises that isolate the large muscles through safer exercises. As part of the over 40 fitness crowd, you’ll want to make sure you prioritize safety over quick results. Make sure you visit recommended resources page to help achieve your goals!

Muscle Toning Program for the Over 40 Fitness Crowd (Part I)

If you want to get toned up, you probably have a few parts of your body you wish looked better. Maybe it’s your midsection, which has gotten a bit flabby, or the back of your arms. You may have tried spot toning, which is performing exercises aimed at a specific part of your body.

Unfortunately, spot toning doesn’t work. That’s why it’s important to learn how to tone up your body and then to learn what you need to do in order to get toned.

Why Am I Less Toned Than I Used to Be? As we age, we lose muscle. Most of us also gain fat. This is because your metabolism has changed. Your muscles fibers have also changed, requiring more challenges in order to remain as toned as they used to be. This is bad news for the over 40 fitness crowd, but it isn’t disastrous. It just means you will have to work harder for a toned body than you had to work when you were in your 20s and 30s.

What Exactly Does Getting Toned Up Mean? Actually, sculpting or toning is all just a nice way to say building muscle and losing fat. Getting toned means you will need to challenge your muscles and lose fat so people can see the muscles that are hiding under your existing fat.

How Do I Get Toned? You will get toned if you do the following:
• Perform exercises that tear down muscle fibers (weight lifting, resistance training, toning or sculpting exercises that push your muscles to muscle failure) and feed your body (lots of protein) so your body can rebuild muscles.
• Lose fat so your muscles will show.

It’s really pretty simple. However, you’ll want to let go of the idea that you can tone just your arms or just your chest and realize you need to tone all of your body (and lose excess fat). You have to do this even if you just want to improve your arms or chest or whatever area is bugging you.

Toning Myths You Will Want to Ignore Lots of people will tell you that you will get toned if you:
• Do higher reps with lighter weights
• Do fewer reps with heavier weights
• Work specific muscle groups

Here’s the truth behind each of these myths:
• Higher reps with lighter weights will help you avoid injury. This means this is a good practice for those of us in the 40 and over fitness group, not because it will get you toned quickly, but because it will allow you to work out safely and build muscles.
• Fewer reps with heavier weights are a no-no for those of us who are over 40. Why? Because the risk of improper form and injury is too high. Skip this. It won’t help you get any more toned anyway. It just saves time for people who are young enough and lucky enough to be injury-resistant.
• Working specific muscles groups only produces more defined muscles in that area if you’ve already lost enough excess fat for changes in muscle mass to show in those areas. If you are already very slender, and just have very small muscles, working specific muscles will indeed show up as greater definition and tone. However, if you’re carrying excess fat in areas, you will have to lose the fat before working those specific areas will bring any noticeable success.

Toning Facts You’ll Want to Live Out in Practice
This means you will want to follow a workout routine that builds muscle and helps you lose fat. You can find plenty of articles and recommended resources on this site that will help you lose fat, so please click around and find inspiration and specific direction. Then proceed to Part Two of our muscle toning series to find out what exercises you’ll want to tackle first for maximum toning benefit.