Everyone has heard the phrase ‘Tone Up’. But what exactly does that mean? There is generally a lot of contention about this term and it can be difficult to address as a trainer as it’s not a very specific description of what a person may want. It may also indicate the person themself is unsure of the overall outcome they are looking for.

Linking back to my article on goals, the end goal should be as specific as possible and so I aim to not only provide examples of great exercises but I will aim to explain these workouts so that ‘tone up’ becomes much more than just a saying. The following exercises and workouts are simple yet effective, based on compound and metabolic movements to ensure muscle growth and the desired outcome.

The most common spots for weight to accumulate, particularly in women, is around the stomach, butt, thighs and upper arms. The level of visceral fat (generally in the stomach region) will depend on other lifestyle factors and this workout works best if complimented with a structured, healthy eating plan.


The Basics


One of the best exercises to do regardless of goals. It strengthens your quads and glutes and can be progressed or regressed for differing abilities or injuries. It strengthens the larger muscle groups, leading to a solid foundation of muscle strength when beginning other lower body exercises.  It will ultimately lead to more defined thighs and glutes in the long run and can be combined with a cardio or weights routine depending on the goal.

Bent Leg Deadlift

This one may take some practice and possible guidance from a trainer to ensure technique.  Again works on legs and glutes and will certainly strengthen and tone your legs. Practise with light weight first before moving onto a weighted barbell and be sure to check your form either by asking for a trainer or watching a mirror whilst moving through the movement of the lift (without weight).

Tricep Pushdown/Dips

So incredibly simple but they certainly pack a punch. This is an adaptable exercise which can be done almost anywhere. Using the cables or designated machine in the gym you can perform a tricep pushdown or by using a bench you can do tricep dips using just your own body weight.

When doing dips, beginners can have their knees at 90 degrees and can then progress to knees straight out once stronger. Beware, these look easy but done with a 2 second/2 second tempo they certainly tone your arms.

Chest press/Push ups

If starting out on your fitness journey it is best to start with chest press before moving on to Pushups. Both work the same body part and can be made easier or harder depending on ability. This will tone and strengthen your chest and shoulder region.

Pushups can be done on knees to start with and then progressed to toes and can then be made more challenging by throwing in a bosu or medicine ball. Get creative!

Gym Workout Plan for Women_2

Lat Pulldown

Another exercise which is incredibly beneficial in any workout out routine. This exercise will strengthen and tone your upper back and traps and again provides a foundation for future upper body exercises. An exercise for all abilities.


A great core stabilisation exercise and will certainly strengthen and tone your core over time. Can be done on hands or elbows and is time based. Start with 30 second holds and increase by 15 seconds each time.

Progressing in this manner means your core will gradually strengthen and reduces the risk of lower back pain if core muscles aren’t as strong.  Doing a plank in between sets or even after a good session should certainly test those muscles!

 Something a little bit fancy

Kettle Bell Crossovers

This one is a personal favourite. It works and strengthens legs, core and shoulders and so makes for a great compound exercise and brilliant for anyone to try.  Standing with feet shoulder with apart, the kettlebell starts on one side of your body, next to your foot.

Using your opposite hand, reach across your body and move into a lunge to pick up the kettlebell. Bring the kettlebell across your body in a diagonal movement with the kettlebell ending up above your head. Repeat movement 12 times on one side before doing the same on the other.  Working multiple muscle groups will burn more energy and enables you to tone and strengthen your body in just one exercise!

Squat with Press

Another favourite and one that I regularly do with my personal training clients.  This exercise involves both the upper and lower body, making it a great compound exercise and certainly a challenge. Using either a medicine ball or dumbbells you perform a squat first with the shoulder press following.

Mountain Climbers using TRX

The TRX or suspension trainer is one of my all-time favourite pieces of equipment and is great for doing core work.  With your feet in the handles, mountain climbers can be performed or a combination of both knees to chest or single knee to chest and is great for toning your obliques. This one is not for beginners and some core strength is needed if using the TRX without a trainer.

These exercises are perfect for women and are easily adaptable depending on experience, ability and environment. As a general guide, 3 sets of 12 is recommended for the weighted exercises whilst some core exercises can be time based with 3 sets of 30 second rounds.

Read more from WatchFit Expert Lisa Dunn.

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Pollyanna Hale Health and Lifestyle coaches
Lost 13 Kg in Total
Mel, 32y Location: London, United Kingdom Working with Pollyanna changed everything. I lost 13kg, got toned and have more energy than ever! Get same results!


Chriz Zaremba Fitness Consultant
Lost 45 Kg in Total
Chris, 50y Location: London, United Kingdom Lost 45kg after the age of 50 and now competes and wins physique competitions and runs marathons Check our weight loss plans