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Home Exercises for Toning the Arms, Back, Belly, & Love Handles

author image Kim Nunley
Kim Nunley has been screenwriting and working as an online health and fitness writer since 2005. She’s had multiple short screenplays produced and her feature scripts have placed at the Austin Film Festival. Prior to writing full-time, she worked as a strength coach, athletic coach and college instructor. She holds a master's degree in kinesiology from California State University, Fullerton.
Home Exercises for Toning the Arms, Back, Belly, & Love Handles
A woman is doing crunches in her home. Photo Credit Vicheslav/iStock/Getty Images

Access to a gym isn’t necessary if you’re interested in developing muscular tone; dumbbells will allow you to incorporate a variety of exercises at home. Despite common misconceptions, developing tone requires the combination of weight and cardiovascular training. While you can tailor your weight training workouts to target particular muscle groups, those exercises develop muscular tissue only and don’t make an impact on any excess fat you may be carrying.

Targeting the Arms

The major muscles in the arms include your shoulders, biceps and triceps. If you don’t have weights, you can work both your shoulders and triceps with bench dips and close-grip pushups. Bench dips involve sitting on a chair with your legs extended out and heels resting on the floor, placing your weight onto your hands that are positioned on the edge of the chair, and bending your elbows to lower your hips toward the floor. Close-grip pushups are similar to traditional pushups, except that your hands are positioned directly underneath your shoulders. Perform them from the knees if necessary. If you have dumbbells, you can include shoulder press and lateral raise for the shoulders, and overhead triceps extension and kickbacks for the triceps. Work your biceps with dumbbell biceps curls and hammer curls.

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Developing the Back

With a pair of dumbbells, you can work your back with kneeling row and standing bent-over row. Kneeling row will require the use of a secure coffee table or chair. Kneel on the table with one knee and the hand of the supporting arm so that your back is parallel to the floor. Hold a single dumbbell in your free hand and allow it to hang toward the floor. Pull the dumbbell up to the side of your torso and then extend your arm to return it to the starting position. For standing bent-over row, hold a dumbbell in each hand and position your feet to shoulder-width apart. Keeping your back straight, push your hips back and bend forward at the waist until your back is about parallel to the floor. Pull the dumbbells to the sides of your torso and then lower them to complete the rep.

Working the Belly and Obliques

Develop the muscles around your love handles with bicycle crunches, straight leg crunches and reverse crunches. Each of these exercises were found by a 2001 study funded by the American Council on Exercise to be effective for hitting the abs and obliques. All are performed from a back-lying position. For bicycle crunch, with your hands behind your head, crunch and twist to the right, bringing your right elbow across your body. At the same time, lift your left knee up toward your chest to meet your elbow as it arrives while extending your right leg. Lower back down and switch sides on the next rep. For straight leg crunches, hold your legs up so that they’re pointed vertical as you crunch. Reverse crunches involve maintaining your shoulders on the floor while contracting your abs and obliques to lift your legs and hips off the ground.

Effective Toning

Improve your workout performance and reduce your risk of injury by performing five to 10 minutes of light cardio and dynamic stretches before each workout. To tailor your weight training for toning, ACE recommends lifting two days per week and performing three to six sets of six to 12 reps of each exercise. In order to effectively develop tone, in addition to weight training, incorporate regular bouts of high-intensity cardio exercise and follow a healthy eating plan. Higher intensity exercise burns more calories and also has been found to elevate your metabolic rate throughout the day. Reduce your calorie intake by decreasing the size of your meal portions and primarily eating fruits, vegetables, non-fat and low-fat dairy products and whole grains.

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