If you still haven’t added a strength workout to your cardio routine, you are missing out on major calorie burn, bone-mass building, and muscle toning!

Many women fear that they will become ‘bulky’ by adding strength training to their exercise regimen. This is just not true. For one, women don’t have nearly enough testosterone to get ‘swoll’ and by using light weights or even your own body weight, you will get all the toning benefits of weight lifting, including fat loss, without looking like a body builder.

Here are 10 Head-to-Toe toners that I found in Self Magazine. I tried them out last week and am already seeing a difference! All you need is a stability ball and two 5-12 pound dumbbells (enough weight so you feel resistance and muscle fatigue but not so much that you lose your form). The routine only takes about 25 minutes and you only have to do it 2-3 times per week on non-consecutive days. Do 2 sets of 15 reps for each move. Rest for a maximum of 60 seconds between each set.

Plie with ball

Position stability ball against a wall or other tall, sturdy object. Lean lower back against it. Keep feet wide, toes turned out, and place hands on hips.  Squat, rolling ball down wall as you go, until thighs are parallel to floor and knees are aligned over ankles. Rise, squeezing butt tight as you stand.

Downward Dog calf raise

Start in push-up position on hands and toes. With hands planted, walk feet forward, raising hips until body forms an inverted V. Rise onto balls of feet, squeezing calves tight; lower heels. Advanced exercisers: Do raises on one leg at a time (15 per side), with other leg lifted a foot or more.

Ball Squeeze

Stand with feet hip-width apart, holding ball at chest height, arms straight but not locked. Squeeze ball hard for two counts; release for one count without lowering ball.

Sky sculptor

Sit on ball with feet hip-width apart, knees bent 90 degrees. Hold a dumbbell in each hand at chin level in front, elbows bent, arms shoulder-width apart and palms facing you. Without leaning back, raise dumbbells straight up to sky until arms are extended; return to start.

Right-angle raise

Stand with feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent, a dumbbell in each hand. Bend forward at hips about 45 degrees, aligning head with spine. Raise arms out to shoulder level, elbows bent 90 degrees so hands point to ground and palms face behind you. Slowly raise elbows a few more inches above back, squeezing shoulder blades together. Hold for one count, then lower elbows to shoulder level again.

Floor Dip

Sit on ground with feet together, toes up, knees bent. Place palms on ground behind you, in line under shoulders, fingers pointing to butt. Lift hips 6 to 8 inches. Without hunching shoulders, bend elbows behind you (not out to sides) and lower butt to within 1 or 2 inches of ground; straighten arms to lift hips again.

Ball biceps curl

Holding a dumbbell in each hand, kneel with torso and upper arms on ball. Extend arms, palms up. Curl dumbbells toward chin; lower arms to start.

Around the world

Sit on ball with feet about hip-width apart and knees bent 90 degrees. Raise arms to shoulder height in front, palms facing each other. Keeping feet and hips still, squeeze abs hard and slowly rotate head, arms and torso to left. Reverse direction and repeat to right side to complete one rep.

Half crescent

Lie facedown with legs extended and a rolled towel under hips. Bend arms in front and look at ground.  Holding upper body still, slowly raise legs a few inches, toes pointed, until legs are at same height as hips; lower to start.

Ball crunch

Lie on ground with knees bent, feet flat and wide. Rest ball between legs and place hands behind head. Raise upper body without pulling on neck, squeezing ball hard between knees and keeping feet on ground. Lower shoulder blades (but not head) to ground.


-Emily Freeman


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