Here are some toning exercises that can show results in as early as a few weeks, if worked every other day. First start with slow and gentle warm up stretching activities for about 5 minutes (no weights needed yet), pulling one arm at a time completely over to the other side, reaching up to the sky, bending over to touch your toes, reaching backwards, etc.

Then begin to tone your upper body by exercising with hand-held weights for resistance. There’s no need to run out and purchase any special kinds. Rather these can be cans of soda, canned foods or water bottles - anything that you can grasp firmly, yet comfortably. Their weight range should be around 1lb-10lb. Choose weights that are somewhat challenging, but that don’t force you to struggle.

With your weights, continue with about 10-12 repetitions (reps) of the following exercises, lasting a total of about 8-10 minutes.

Exercise A - Upper: Chest & Shoulder Lifts - Lie on your back. With your weights in your hands facing upwards, stretch your arms out to your sides. Bend your elbows a little and lift your arms up over your chest, until hands almost come in contact with each other. Go back to beginning position. Repeat.

Exercise B - Upper: Chest and Shoulder Half Circles - Lie on your back. With your weights in your hands facing upwards, stretch your arms up over your head. Stop & hold briefly. Then take them from above your head down to your hips in a half circle motion, going by your sides. Stop & hold briefly. Take weight back to beginning position. Repeat.

Exercise C - Upper: Chest and Back Support - With your legs straight out in front of you, sit with good posture, your back straight and supported against a couch, wall or chair. Start by holding the weights at your chest, elbows out parallel with the your legs. Push your weights out straight in front of you. Next, pull them back. Repeat.

Exercise D - Upper: Shoulder and Upper Arm Raises - With your feet shoulder width apart, stand. Raise your arms straight up over your head. Have weights in hand and turn palms facing behind you. Gently lower your arms forward and downward at the same time, without bending or locking at the elbows. Stop at shoulder-level. Return to starting position. Repeat.

Exercise E - Upper: Back and Shoulders “Tensers” - With your feet shoulder width apart, stand. Lower your arms to your sides. And hold the weights with your hands facing outwards. Slowly tense your shoulder and upper back muscles (up and down motion). Repeat.

Exercise F - Upper: Arms, Back and Shoulders Chin-Ups - With feet a spaced little apart, stand. Hold your weights with your arms straight down in front of you. (Weights should just about touch.) then with elbows bent, bring the weights towards your chin, elbows going out to the sides. Take weights back out to beginning position. Repeat.

Exercise G - Upper: Arms, Back and Shoulders Bends - With your feet a little apart, stand. Hold your weights palm-side out, bending over like you’re touching your toes. Then without rising, bring your arms out to your sides, parallel with the floor. Remember when keeping the elbows straight not to lock them. Gently ease back into the beginning position. Repeat.

Exercise H - Upper: Arms and Chest Push-Ups - With knees of toes on the floor, place palms on the floor, hands should-width apart. Do old-fashioned push-ups with your back straight, never reaching the floor all the way so that you come in contact with it.

Exercise I - Upper: Arm Curls - Sit with your back straight and supported. With your arms hanging down by your sides, hold your weights with palms facing out or up. Gently curl arms up towards shoulders. Uncurl. Note: keep back straight and don’t move the rest of your body - -just the arms. Repeat.

One of the most difficult parts of your working out may be a common one many face: staying motivated. Tips to stay motivated include: vary your routine, use different weights from time to time, intensify your workout, work out in different settings, reward yourself afterwards with something healthy like your favorite beverage, put your workout to music, journal regularly monitoring your progress and how great your feel.

Susan Norrad
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