While bodyweight exercises and cardio are great for burning calories and fat, adding weights to your workouts will tone your muscles with rapid results. Adding moves that work large muscle groups or incorporate multiple body parts helps keep your heart rate elevated as well, so you can stay in a maximum calorie burning zone, even without the treadmill.
Many women fear adding too much weight, for fear of bulking up. You’d have to power lift (huge weight with few repetitions) to do that, so pack it on. Use weight that challenges you nearly to failure at the end of your set of repetitions. Here are four of the best toning exercises you can do with weights
1. Dumbbell/Kettlebell Swing
The swing is touted as one of the best fat burning moves around, and sculpts lean muscles fast. Grab one heavy dumbbell (about 15 to 20 lbs.) and hold it with both hands, fingers laced. Place your feet a little wider than shoulder width, toes slightly turned out. Keeping your back straight, squat low, reaching the dumbbell back through your legs, then swinging it up. Swing to shoulder height, then repeat for 20 repetitions.
2. Squat Press
The squat is combined with an overhead press, keeping the load in the butt and thighs and the shoulders. You’ll be working your total body, though, as your back, arms and abs work to stabilize you. To perform the squat press, hold dumbbells next to your shoulders, elbows pointing to the floor. With feet hip distance apart, bend at the knees as though you were trying to sit down in a chair. Keep your chest and head lifted as you squat. As you rise, press the weights up overhead, straightening your arms as you stand. Bring them back to shoulder height as you squat to repeat. Complete 15 reps.
3. Lunge and Curl
Combine your lunges and bicep curls to keep your time at the gym to a minimum. This two-for-one exercise focuses on legs and biceps. Hold dumbbells at your sides, standing with feet under your hips. Take a large step forward, bending at the knees, and bringing your back knee nearly to the floor. As you lower toward the floor, curl the dumbbells up to shoulder height, keeping your elbows aligned under your shoulders and your back straight. Step together and repeat on the opposite leg. Complete 8 to 10 repetitions on each side.
4. Dead Lift and Row
This exercise keeps your rearview in check, working your back and hamstrings. Hold heavy dumbbells or a barbell in front of your thighs. Grip the bar at shoulder width. With feet hip distance apart, bend forward from your hips, and lower the weight to your kneecaps. Bend your knees slightly as you lower, and stick your butt back to feel the stretch in your hamstrings. When you reach your kneecaps, hold the bent over position and pull the bar up to your belly button. Point your elbows toward the ceiling as you pull. Release the bar back to your kneecaps and stand. Repeat for a total of 15 repetitions.
These total body exercises with weights will blast fat and calories fast. For an added bonus, complete them all in a circuit. Do one set of each, resting 30 seconds in between, then repeat the whole circuit two more times.