Exercises for Toning Muscles With Weight Training

Toning the muscles takes hard work and dedication. To pull this off, you need to perform various weight training exercises that target your entire body. Use free weights and body weight for resistance, and to make the best use of your time, do exercises that work multiple muscle groups at once. Perform 10 to 12 reps, four to five sets and work out three days a week on nonconsecutive days.


Push-ups are body-weight exercises that work your chest, shoulders, upper back and triceps. To execute a push-up, lie on your stomach with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and your toes hip-width apart. After pushing yourself off the floor by extending your arms, lift your hips and form a straight line from your shoulders to your heels. Once you have tightened your core, lower your chest down to a fist-width from the floor, push back up and repeat.

Clean and Press

Clean and presses are full-body exercises that are performed with a barbell. To do this exercise, place a weighted barbell on the floor, stand behind it with your feet shoulder-width apart and lower your body by bending your knees and hips. Once you lower yourself down, grab the bar with both hands using an overhand, shoulder-aligned grip, stand up and hoist the bar to upper chest height. Your palms should now be facing forward. After tightening your core and holding the bar briefly, press it above your head. When your arms are just short of full extension, lower the bar back to your chest, then to the floor. Throughout the whole exercise, keep your back straight and eyes looking forward.

Back Rows

Back rows can be performed with dumbbells or barbells. To use dumbbells, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold the weights in front of your body with your palms facing your thighs. After bending your knees slightly, bend forward at the hips and let the weights hang down toward the floor. Once your back is slightly above parallel to the floor, pull the weights up to stomach height and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Return the weights to the starting position and repeat.

Decline Dumbbell Extensions

Decline dumbbell extensions, which tone your underarm area, are performed on a decline bench. To do this exercise, lie on the bench with your lower shins hooked under the padded support and the dumbbells held straight above you with your palms facing each other. Once you have tightened your core, bend your elbows and slowly lower the weights down by your ears. After holding this position for a second, lift the weights back up and repeat.

Burpees with Chin-ups

Burpees with chin-ups are intense body-weight exercises that work every muscle in your body. To execute this exercise, stand under a pull-up bar with your feet shoulder-width apart. After lowering your body into a squat, place your hands next to your feet on the floor and kick your legs behind your body. Once your toes land, do a push-up, snap your feet back forward and jump in the air toward the pull-up bar. After grabbing the bar with a close, underhand grip, perform a chin-up, drop back down to the floor and repeat.

About this Author

Kevin Rail has worked in the fitness industry since 2001 and has been writing since 2004. He has professional experience as a certified personal trainer, wellness coach, motivational engineer and freelance fitness writer. He currently writes a monthly column for Ron Jones High-Performance Health. Rail has a bachelor’s degree in sports management: fitness and wellness from California University of Pennsylvania.