The Cold Penguin

expanding the box

Tuesday is for Toning

on October 1, 2013

Do you have a set workout plan?  Strength one day, cardio the next, etc.  I’ve created a workout schedule for myself and it seems to work really well.  I never have to wonder what I should do for exercise from one day to the next.  I know that Tuesdays are for toning.

I think we all have a different idea of what toning means.  To some people tone means being petite with little body fat but little muscle bulk as well.  Other people see being tone as well-defined muscles with little body fat.  To me, it’s some where in the middle.  I definitely do not seek big, bulky, body building muscles, but I like the athletic and strong look.

Since people have a different idea of what tone means, the way they get there is different as well.  Full cardio, full strength, or a combination of strength and cardio can get you to your idea of tone.  With my idea, it’s the combo route all the way.  And luckily, that’s also my favorite type of workout – cardio and strength combinations.  It’s fun, fast, effective and the least boring exercise on the planet (in my humble opinion).  It’s not running on the treadmill forever, or lifting heavy weights and then resting forever.  It’s fast paced and challenging, stringing different types of exercises together.  And the exercises can very greatly – pure cardio, pure strength, or a mixture.  Here are my top 3 favorite and top 3 least favorite exercises I do to “tone”.


  • Mountain Climbers.  Mountain climbers work the whole body – arms, core, legs and can be great cardio depending on your speed.  I hate them because they rely on a few muscles that are a little weak on me and start to burn quickly when I do this move.  My hip flexors and my shoulders feel this exercise from the get-go and that’s really why I dislike mountain climbers.
  • Pulse Lunges.  Lunges are a fabulous exercise to work the entire upper leg and glutes.  I always include lunges in my strength or toning workouts in one way or another.  But when I do pulse lunges, I cringe.  Pulse lunges make my legs burn around rep 3, and very few exercises can actually make my upper legs burn!  (Do you get my theme for my least favorite exercises?!)
  • Shoulder Press.  The shoulder press is a very straight forward, fairly uncomplicated movement.  But my shoulders are weak – and yes, they burn quickly on shoulder presses.


  • Up/Downs.  Up/Downs work your core and arms fairly intensely.  But for some reason the burn I feel on up/downs is quite different from the burn I feel on shoulder presses or mountain climbers.  It’s a burn I can tolerate.  A burn that makes me feel like I’m getting stronger instead of about to collapse.  I think since my abs are fairly strong, they help out greatly on the up/downs.  But when I do these, I feel strong afterwards.  And I love that!
  • Squats.  Squats are a great way to work your lower body.  What I love about squats is that you can squeeze certain muscle groups (i.e. your glutes) and get an extra boost of strength.  Now while squat pulses aren’t my favorite, I love doing a good squat with a nice weight.  It makes my legs feel strong!
  • Toe Taps.  These are a fun, easy and effective cardio workout!  I like doing toe taps to my couch or a bench.  The higher you tap, the harder the cardio gets.  I don’t know why, they are just fun to me!

Since I know that my least favorite exercises are actually the ones I need to do the most (I hate them because they are HARD!), I decided I needed to incorporate them into my toning routine today.  And to not completely hate my workout, I also added in my 3 favorite exercises.

Here is today’s toning exercise routine:

Circuit 1: Least Favorite – complete the circuit 3 times, with a 1 minute active recovery in between.  The 1st time through do 30 reps, the second do 20 reps and the last do 10 reps.

  • Mountain Climbers
  • Pulse Lunges
  • Shoulder Press

Circuit 2: Most Favorite – complete the circuit 3 times, with a 1 minute active recovery in between.  The 1st time through do 30 reps, the second do 20 reps and the last do 10 reps.

  • Up/Downs
  • Squats
  • Toe Taps

For an extra challenge, complete 1 minute of both the least favorite and favorite exercises above!

What are your favorite and least favorite exercises and why?




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