Get skinny, tone up!

By Emily McLaughlin

workout mclaughlin
(Emily McLaughlin)

Cardiovascular exercise will keep you skinny, but if you are trying to look lean and toned, you are going to need to pick up some weights. Toning exercises help you build muscle which will, in turn, make you stronger, keep you lean and protect your bones.

Intimidated by the weights area? Don’t be! Once you are equipped with some killer moves, you can enter the male-dominated area with confidence. I did a little stalking this week and followed Alex Lowder and Alaina Patsos around the gym to learn their moves and ask for some tips. These girls are powerhouses- they are up in the early hours of the morning to get their sweat on, and they were kind enough to show me some of their favorite moves.

Arms

When it comes to arms, you should be working the bigger muscles first. This means head to the weight area and stay away from the selectorized equipment (well, most of it). Selectorized equipment focuses in on one particular muscle- usually a smaller one. Other benefits to grabbing a hold of those weights are to work your core. Yes, lifting works those abdominals too. Try to do most of your exercises standing, clenching your core tight, helping you keep form.

1. Bicep curls: Keep your elbows in and down. This is one of the bigger mistakes people make. Don’t let those elbows come away from your body because you won’t be targeting your biceps at all.

2. Tricep dips: These do not even require weights, just a bench. Keep those forearms perpendicular to the bench and your body long and straight. Modify this exercise by bending your knees in—but don’t expect the exercise to be too much easier… these are hard.

3. Tricep pull downs: Work those triceps again using the Techno-gym Jungle (you know, that big apparatus that all the boys congregate around… the one they do those painful looking pull-ups on). Note Alaina’s form.

Shoulders

Upper body strength comes with toning the shoulders and upper back. Alex and Alaina showed me a variety of exercises that target those areas specifically.

1. Anterior (front) delt raises: These raises can be done on the Jungle or with dumbbells. The choice is yours.

2. Posterior (back) delt raise: Lying on the floor, hold a dumbbell overhead with both hands. Raise the dumbbell up overhead until your arms are extended straight up, perpendicular to your body. Keep your back and shoulders down. Modify the exercise by bending your knees.

3. Military press: Start with your upper arms forming a right angle with your forearms. Press both arms up, using your back and shoulders. Use the mirror to make sure both arms are pressing at the same pace (we want that muscle tone to be even on both arms).

4. Standing flys: Start with arms low and in front of you, holding dumbbells. Use your shoulders and back and bring those arms out and up to the “military press” starting position. These are hard, so start with lighter weights before you try to put up these 15lbs. like Alaina!

Take a look at Emily’s blog at: http://stayhealthystayhappy.wordpress.com/2011/04/18/get-skinny-tone-up/ to get more fitness tips and to check out pictures showing how to do each exercise.