Home Workout

Fitness and Toning

Aerobic exercise, such as swimming, biking or running, will maximize the benefits of a strength training program.
Aerobic exercise, such as swimming, biking or running, will maximize the benefits of a strength training program.
Publications International, Ltd.

Strength training can help you achieve both fitness and toning, although it works best when coupled with other activities.

To achieve strong, taut muscles and cardiovascular fitness, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends that strength training be done two to three times a week and that aerobic exercise be done three to five times a week. The exercises in this program, which have links on the last page of this article, will provide you with a balanced strength-training program that will tone and shape your abdomen and sculpt muscles throughout your body. They'll burn calories, too, which can help you lose excess body fat while keeping muscle.

But to achieve the greatest health and fitness benefits -- and the greatest change in appearance -- you'll need to choose an aerobic activity to supplement your strength training.

The aerobic exercise will help you to further reduce body fat, including the fat you may be wearing around your middle. It will also strengthen your heart and lungs. By combining the slimming effect of aerobic exercise and the toning power of strengthening exercises, you'll soon be sporting a body that turns heads on the beach.

Aerobic exercise is any rhythmic and continuous movement involving the large muscle groups of the body over an extended period. This includes such activities as walking, running, biking, and swimming.

For a knockout punch against body fat, experts recommend the combination of exercise and proper diet. Your diet should be low in fat and cholesterol and high in complex carbohydrates, such as bread, potatoes, vegetables, cereals, and pasta. It's also important to select a wide variety of foods to be sure you're providing your body with the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients it needs.

Dress comfortably in clothing that promotes movement and heat loss. A T-shirt and shorts are fine. Plastic or rubberized clothing is not recommended. Wear athletic shoes that provide stability and comfort. If possible, work on a wooden floor, carpet, or other surface that gives with the body. For floor exercises, work on a mat or fold a towel and lay it underneath your back to avoid irritation.

Finally, although this program is designed to provide safe, effective exercises for strengthening the muscles, it is recommended that you consult your doctor before beginning the program.

Find out how to get the most out of this program on the next page.

For more great exercises to improve your strength and fitness, check these out: