Toning muscles and making them look better isn’t as hard as one might imagine, and in this article we will explore some fun and easy ways to tone the muscles in our upper body. That being said, toning the muscles is not the same as lifting weights or strength training to increase bone density and for overall strength. We certainly need this, need to consult our doctors firstly, and may need equipment to do this. Certainly diet plays a significant role as well. However for those of us that know this already and would like to tone up our muscles within the comfort of our own homes, here are some fun ways to do this.
The big secret to doing this is by performing what are called isometric contractions. In layman’s terms, we are referring to the act of pretending to lift weights without the weights. In other words, by isolating and squeezing the muscles as if we are lifting weights, we can help tone our muscles up. (SAFETY NOTE: Speak to your doctor first; some people due to medical conditions should not squeeze their muscles tightly like this.)
I call these exercises the ‘Wizard Squeezes’ and they can work miracles for toning! You can do your Wizard Squeezes standing, sitting, even lying down on your back. Ideally, let these ideas give you a starting point, and then go see a good P.T. for additional advice.
To do your ‘Wizard Squeezes’ properly, here are some ground rules.
1. Always breathe- don’t hold the breath!
2. Relax your neck and shoulder muscles!
3. Follow the order of the exercises, working the big muscles to the smaller ones!
4. Start out by doing 10 contractions each, working up to 20.
5. Isolate and then squeeze your muscles tightly, throughout the entire exercise.
All done properly, this should take less than 5 minutes! Do once or twice each day.
The Wizard Squeezes:
- Pull Downs: Reach over head, hands facing away from you, and imagine pulling up and lifting up toward a chin-up bar. Breathe. 10 times.
- Rows: Imagine rowing a boat, putting your arms out in front of you, palms down, and pull back toward you, shoulder blades together. Lift up tall. Breathe. 10 times.
- Chest pressing. The opposite of the row, press your hands away from you, like you’re doing a push up. Lift up tall, breathe, 10 times.
- Arm curls and triceps extensions. To work the front of the arms, start with your arms down by your side, turn your palms up, and bend your arms at the elbows, like you’re picking something up. Stop a little above beyond 90 degrees. To work the back of the arms, do the opposite. Start with the arms bent, up by your shoulders, palms down, and press the arms down to your side. (An easy combination of the two is this: Pull the arms up palms up, working the Biceps, and then when the arms reach your shoulders, turn the palms downward, and work the back of the back of the arms, pushing down to the starting position! Breathe. 10 times.)
By doing these isometric contractions, if you squeeze really hard (keep the breath moving) you will find yourself getting tired very quickly. This a great workout!
Are there other factors involved? Diet? Metabolism? Medication? Etc, etc. Yes. And this isn’t a quick fix- it’s a wonderful, take 5 to 10 minutes anytime of the day, and can help whip your body into shape! And remember to consult with your medical professional first. Then if you can, get up and do your Wizard Squeezes!
As a side note, may I share something with you? I want you to point out one of the biggest lessons between the lines of this and other articles I write and that is this: You are not helpless. You can do much more than you think, and even when you feel down, a little bit of something counts.
Remember: There is no wasted effort, you are a gift, and you are needed. God Bless.
John Paul Ouvrier, known as The Wizard of Youth is a fitness trainer who specializes in working with older adults. Please consult with your doctor or medical professional before beginning this or any exercise program or advice. The contents of this article do not constitute medical advice. John’s websites are: http://wizardofyouth.com and http://fitness4charity.org