12-Week Body Sculpting Programs for Women

young woman working out at the gymnasium
Workout (Image: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

In 12 weeks of periodized workouts you will see improvement in your muscle tone, strength and endurance whether you are just starting a program or you need to change up your old routine. Staying consistent and using the principles of variation will help you develop lifelong exercising habits. Combining strengthening exercises with cardio and a healthy diet will give you measurable results while decreasing your body fat to reveal your toned physique.

A Sample Toning Routine

For a full body workout choose eight to 10 exercises that include all of your major groups. Do compound movements that use multiple joints and large muscles first followed by single joint exercises. For example, you could do lunges and squats for your legs and hips, and pushups and dumbbell rows for your chest and back. For your biceps and shoulders try bicep curls with shoulder presses; try kickbacks for your triceps. Reverse crunches and planks are excellent for your core. Beginners need to only strength train two to three days a week where as an advanced athlete may choose to train four or five days a week.

Planning Variety For Results

The principles of variation include changing the exercise intensity by changing the load, frequency or duration. It is optimal to increase the intensity for the first three weeks of each four-week segment and on the fourth week end with the same intensity that you used during the first week. You can do this by using more weight or changing the exercise to make it more difficult. You should start with one set of eight to 12 repetitions to fatigue and by the third week try for three sets. After each four weeks use increasingly difficult workouts in the same periodized fashion.

Nutrition and Cardiovascular Fitness

Perform cardio such as running, swimming, or bicycling on most days of the week for 30 to 60 minutes. Progressively run faster, longer, or on more days of the week as you would with a periodized strength-training program -- especially if you are trying to lose weight. To get a sleek and toned body, balance your efforts with a healthy diet to get the results you are trying to achieve. Eat less fried foods and decadent desserts. Take your training plan one day at a time and chart your progress to hold yourself accountable.

Tips for Great Workouts

Schedule your workout at the same time everyday so that it becomes part of your routine. Start easy and when you build endurance, increase the intensity by making the exercise more challenging. Heavy weights will not make you bulky. They will increase your muscle and burn more fat at rest while giving you the toned look you desire. If you are having a difficult time committing to a program or need help getting into a more challenging routine, hiring a personal trainer or working out with a friend are effective options.

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