The Super Toning Training Routine

Intense routine aimed at women, is a mix of stretching, cardio and resistance training designed to help you tone up and tighten up!

 This routine is such that you must be prepared for hard training and you should ensure that your health is of such that you may embark on this type of routine. If you are not sure then seek medical advice before starting. If just starting out then you must cut the routine down until your level of fitness and level of resistance training is of such a level that you can complete all of this routine. If you are a beginner you should only complete 2 sets of the resistance training given below and only complete the first six minutes of the cardio routine and increasing week by week. Making sure that you complete the warm up, stretch, and cool down given below.

It is very important that you warm up before training, and after the warm up you should complete some muscle stretching, and cool down after your training routine.

Editor's note: view video exercise guides in the exercise videos section and if you have any questions about this routine ask one of our experienced members on the Natural Fitness Forum.

Warm Up.

The first part of any training routine is the warm-up, it should increase the heart rate, blood pressure, oxygen consumption, dilate the blood vessels, increase elasticity of the active muscles, and increase the heat produced by the muscle groups to be used during exercise.

A proper warm-up consists of two phases:

  1. A graduated aerobic warm-up activity - This is a warm-up to get the blood flowing to the muscles. This also heats up the working muscles making them less prone to injury. Any aerobic activity done at the very low intensity can serve to warm-up the muscles, tendons, and ligaments.
  2. Stretching and flexibility – This is to be performed on the muscle groups you will be exercising during the cardiovascular activity. (An example would be a quadriceps stretch before bicycling).

The warm-up phase should last anywhere from 5 – 10 mins.

Cool Down

The purpose of a cool down is to slowly decrease the cardiovascular work and overall metabolism that were elevated during the cardiovascular activity. A cool down consists of slowing down the intensity level of the cardiovascular activity you are performing slowly. Stopping exercise suddenly can be dangerous. A cool down keeps the body circulating blood and keeps blood from pooling in the veins. A proper cool down should last about 5 – 10 min for each thirty minutes of exercise if the cardiovascular activity is performed for longer periods or is of higher intensity the cool down phase should last longer.

Stretching Before Training

Woman stretching Stretching before your training routine has positive effects on your posture and mobility, and can also reduce the risk of injury. Here is a list of basic stretching exercises.

Upper back stretch.

From a standing position, grasp a stationary object (such as a pole or exercise machine) with both hands. Bend the knees and sit back so that your arms are fully extended and supporting your weight. Shift your weight to the right to isolate the right portion of your latissimus muscle (side of back). Hold this position for 20 – 30 seconds, and then shift your weight to the left. Complete 1 – 3 repetitions.

Triceps stretch. (back of arm)

From a standing position, raise your right arm over your head. Bend your elbow so that your right hand is behind your head. With your left hand grasp your right wrist or elbow and pull it back as far as comfortably possible, pointing your right elbow toward the ceiling. Hold this position for 20 -30 seconds then repeat the process with your left arm. Complete 1 – 3 repetitions with each arm.

Chest stretch.

From a standing position, grasp a stationary object (such as a piece of exercise equipment or a pole) with your right hand. Your arm should be straight and roughly parallel to the ground. Slowly turn away from the object, allowing your arm to go as far behind the body as comfortably possible. Hold this position for 20 – 30 seconds, and then repeat the process with your left arm. Complete 1 – 3 repetitions on each side.

Shoulder stretch.

From a standing position, Grasp your right wrist or elbow with your left hand. Without turning your body, slowly pull your right arm across your torso as far as comfortably possible. Hold this position for 20 – 30 seconds, and then repeat the process with your left arm. Complete 1 – 3 repetitions with each arm.

Bicep stretch (front or arm).

From a standing position, extend your right arm forward with your palm facing up. Place your left palm underneath your right elbow. Slowly straighten your right arm as much as comfortably possible, pressing your elbow down into your left hand. Hold this position for 20 – 30 seconds, and then repeat the process with your left arm. Complete 1 – 3 repetitions with each arm.

Glute/Hamstring stretch (backside and back of leg).

Sit on the floor with your legs straight and slowly bend forward. Allow your hands to travel down along the line of your body as far as comfortably possible. When you feel an intense stretch in your hamstrings, (back of the leg) grab onto your legs and hold this position for 20 – 30 seconds. Complete 1 – 3 repetitions with each leg.

Quadriceps stretch (front of thigh).

From a standing position, grasp a stationary object (such as a pole or exercise machine) with your right hand. Bend your left knee and bring your left foot toward your backside. Grasp your left ankle or foot with your left hand and slowly lift your foot as high as comfortably possible. Hold this position for 20 – 30 seconds and then repeat on the other leg. Complete 1 – 3 repetitions on each leg.

Calf stretch (rear of lower leg).

From a standing position, grasp a stationary object (such as a piece of exercise equipment or pole) with both hands. Bend your right knee and bring your left leg behind your body as far as possible whilst keeping your feet flat on the floor. Slowly lean forward without lifting your left heel. Hold this position for 20 – 30 seconds then repeat the process for the left leg.

Abdominal stretch (stomach muscles).

From a standing position, place your hands on your sides and slowly lean back as far as comfortably possible. For added effect and to enhance the stretch on the oblique muscles, (muscles on upper side of waist) lean to your left and then to your right while performing this stretch. Complete 1 – 3 repetitions.

Resistance Training.

In the routine given below you will complete two to four sets of each exercise. You will finish all sets for each given exercise before moving onto the next exercise.

You must complete 8 – 10 reps (repetitions) for each exercise; this is the ideal amount of reps for muscle hypertrophy (tone). The reasons why we must complete this number of repetitions are:

  • Maximum growth can only be achieved by activating the full spectrum of muscle fibres, and a moderate rep scheme will accomplish this better than a low rep range or even a very high rep range. Both of the fast twitch and slow twitch muscle fibres are brought into play, and the time the muscle is under tension is long enough to work the muscles to their fullest potential.
  • Moderate reps have also been shown to maximise the release of various hormones, including testosterone and growth hormone. This is facilitated by the accrual of lactic acid. It has been shown that lactate promotes hormonal excitation, which then acts on the muscle cell to induce growth.
  • Moderate repetition has been shown to cause a distinct “pump” in the muscle in which your muscles fill up with blood. This not only provides a temporary fullness to your muscles, but also increases the hydration within muscle cells. Studies have demonstrated that a hydrated cell stimulates protein synthesis and inhibits protein breakdown (proteolysis). Therefore muscles will be provided with the raw materials to lay down new contractile proteins, which is the primary basis for muscle growth.

In relation to the overload principle, the weight you choose must be heavy enough that the last few reps must be a struggle, and you may not be able to complete all the reps, therefore if you are able to complete the full amount of reps quite easily then the weight is to light. If you are not able to complete at least eight reps then the weight is too heavy and must be dropped. It may take you a couple of sessions to get the weights right.

Rests between sets will be 60 – 90 seconds between sets, this has been proven to be sufficient so that you can be strong on the next sets whilst keep your anabolic levels high.

The workouts given below should not be done on consecutive days but ideally on a Mon, Wed and Friday. The days in between will be days that cardiovascular training will be done (details given below).

Woman pushup

Workout 1. Shoulders, Biceps and Triceps.

Exercise Sets Rep Range
Dumbell Shoulder Press 4 8 – 10 reps
Cable Upright Row 3 8 – 10 reps
Dumbell Rear Delt Raise 3 8 – 10 reps
One Arm Cable Curl 3 8 – 10 reps
Barbell Curl 2 8 – 10 reps
Dumbell Concentration Curl 2 8 – 10 reps
Dumbell Triceps Kickbacks 3 8 – 10 reps
One-Arm Dumbell Triceps Ext 3 8 – 10 reps
One-Arm Reverse Pushdown 2 8 – 10 reps

Workout 2: Thighs, Hamstrings and Calves.

Exercise Sets Rep Range
Barbell Squat 4 8 – 10 reps
Leg Extension 3 8 – 10 reps
Dumbell Side Lunge 3 8 – 10 reps
Dumbell Stiff-leg Deadlift 3 8 – 10 reps
Lying Leg Curl 3 8 – 10 reps
Cable Abductor Raise 3 8 – 10 reps
Standing Calf Raise 3 8 – 10 reps

Workout 3: Chest, Back and Abdominals.

Exercise Sets Rep Range
Barbell Incline Press 4 8 – 10 reps
Dumbell Flat Press 3 8 – 10 reps
Dumbell Incline Fly 3 8 – 10 reps
Reverse Lat Pulldown 4 8 – 10 reps
One-Arm Dumbell Row 3 8 – 10 reps
Dumbell Pullover 3 8 – 10 reps
Cable Weighted Crunch 3 8 – 10 reps
Leg Raises 3 8 – 10 reps

Week 2. Will focus on the development of muscle tone and muscular endurance. We are altering the reps/rest intervals this week which will initiate a heightened fat-burning effect from the workout.

Sets: You will perform 3 sets of each exercise.

Reps: 15 – 20 per set

Rest: 30 seconds only between sets.

Week 3. This week we revert back to the same workout as given for week 1. But on the last set of each exercise we are going to do a “drop-set” this means that on the last set of each exercise once you have completed the given number of reps you will reduce the weight down about 30% and complete as many reps as you can to failure. Example would be if you were doing say Dumbell Press for chest and you were using 10kg dumbell once you had completed your last repetition on the last set you would put that weight down and immediately pick up 3kg dumbbells and continue with this weight until you could not complete any more repetitions. Then you would move onto the next exercise.

Reps: 8 – 10 reps, with drop set on last set.

Rest: 60 – 90 seconds.

You will complete this routine for a total of nine weeks before the exercises will need to be changed to different exercises to shock the body.

Cardiovascular Training.

A single half hour session of cardio, can burn hundreds of extra calories during the performance of your session. And also after the session there are also more fat burning effects for up to several hours. The body’s cellular furnace expands in size and number and the aerobic enzymes increase in quantity which also accelerates the fat burning process. Over a period these factors allow your body to rely more on utilising fat rather than glycogen (carbohydrates) for fuel helping you obtain and sustain long term weight management. Cardio training also improves muscular endurance. When you lift weights, your body converts glucose into the high-energy compound ATP to fuel exercise performance. During this conversion process, lactic acid is produced and rapidly accumulates in your muscles as you train. When lactic acid builds up past a certain point, you experience an intense burning sensation in the muscles. The burn becomes so strong that it impedes your ability to achieve a muscular contraction; at that point you simply cannot continue to train. However, by increasing aerobic capacity, your cardiovascular system becomes more efficient at delivering oxygen to the working muscles. This helps to increase your lactic acid threshold, and thereby delays the onset of lactic acid build up. The net result is a greater capacity to train at a high level of intensity. Cardio training will also enhance muscular recuperation. Aerobic exercise helps to expand your network of capillaries-the tiny blood vessels that allow nutrients such as protein and carbohydrates to be absorbed into body tissues. The more capillaries that you have, the more efficient the body becomes in using these nutrients for muscular repair. Capillaries also help to clear waste products, particularly carbon dioxide, from the food burning process, further enhancing the nutrient delivery system. This accelerates the rate at which the muscles are able to get the nutrients needed for recuperation, helping to improve your workouts and to speed recovery.

 There are two basic factors that influence the fat-burning effects of cardio: duration and intensity (how long and how hard you train). For any given level of calories burned, these factors have an inverse relationship: if you train harder, then you don’t have to train as long; if you train longer, then you don’t have to train as hard. However, it has been shown that a specific type of cardio known as interval training provides significant benefits over steady state exercise. For one, interval training is extremely time efficient, allowing you to complete a training workout in half the time of a normal cardio workout, and is more effective at burning fat.

Your cardio workout will therefore be of an interval training routine, during the high-intensity interval you will train for one minute at a level that exceeds your lactate threshold. This will be followed by a lower-intensity interval of between 1 and 4 minutes, where your body has a chance to clear lactic acid from the blood and replenish oxygen stores. This cycle will be repeated multiple times over the course of your cardio workout, and allow you to burn in excess of 300 calories in just 30 mins.

You will monitor the intensity of intervals using a rate of perceived exertion (RPE). This is a measure of how hard you feel when you are training, taking into account the physical sensations you experience during your workout, including increases in hear rate, breathing rate, and sweating. The RPE is rated using an incremental scale ranging from one to ten, with one representing a lack of exertion and ten being the maximum possible exertion. For example, a three would indicate a level of exertion that is fairly easy, and a level eight would be a level that was very demanding. You may have trouble getting through an entire workout at the suggested RPE levels; if this is the case then don’t worry simply decrease your levels to a level more consistent with your level of ability. As time goes on then your level of fitness will increase enabling you to complete the workout at a higher level.

With cardio training it is best to add variety to your training this is called cross training and can be accomplished by performing as few as two different activities (although the more, the better) and alternating them each workout. That way different workout will use different muscle groups and will reduce the risk of the musculoskeletal system from overuse. You therefore should consider using the treadmill, stair climber, and stationary bike. But any activity can be chosen for interval training, such as outdoor running, skipping, rowing, and elliptical training.

Interval Training.

Week 1, Static Cycle.

Minutes RPE Notes
3 3 Warm up at low intensity
4 5 Increase resistance and/or pedal power
1 7 Increase resistance and/or pedal power
3 5 Decrease resistance and/or pedal power
1 8 Increase resistance and/or pedal power
2 5 Decrease resistance and/or pedal power
1 9 Increase resistance and/or pedal power
2 5 Decrease resistance and/or pedal power
1 9 Increase resistance and/or pedal power
3 5 Decrease resistance and/or pedal power
1 8 Increase resistance and/or pedal power
4 5 Decrease resistance and/or pedal power
1 7 Increase resistance and/or pedal power
3 3 Cool down at low intensity

Week 2, Cardio.

This week we increase the intensity by altering the duration. Static cycle.

Minutes RPE Notes
3 3 Warm up at low intensity
1 7 Increase resistance and/or pedal power
3 5 Decrease resistance an/or pedal power
1 8 Increase resistance and/or pedal power
2 5 Decrease resistance an/or pedal power
1 9 Increase resistance and/or pedal power
1 5 Decrease resistance an/or pedal power
1 9 Increase resistance and/or pedal power
1 5 Decrease resistance an/or pedal power
1 9 Increase resistance and/or pedal power
2 5 Decrease resistance an/or pedal power
1 8 Increase resistance and/or pedal power
2 5 Decrease resistance an/or pedal power
1 7 Increase resistance and/or pedal power
3 5 Decrease resistance an/or pedal power
3 3 Cool down at low intensity

Week 3, Cardio.

This week and the following weeks, we increase the Intensity. Static cycle.

Minutes RPE Notes
3 3 Warm up at low intensity
2 5 Increase resistance and/or pedal power
1 7 Increase resistance and/or pedal power
1 5 Decrease resistance and/or pedal power
1 8 Increase resistance and/or pedal power
1 5 Decrease resistance and/or pedal power
1 9 Increase resistance and/or pedal power
1 5 Decrease resistance and/or pedal power
1 9 Increase resistance and/or pedal power
1 5 Decrease resistance and/or pedal power
1 9 Increase resistance and/or pedal power
1 5 Decrease resistance and/or pedal power
1 9 Increase resistance and/or pedal power
1 5 Decrease resistance and/or pedal power
1 9 Increase resistance and/or pedal power
1 5 Decrease resistance and/or pedal power
1 9 Increase resistance and/or pedal power
1 5 Decrease resistance and/or pedal power
1 9 Increase resistance and/or pedal power
1 5 Decrease resistance and/or pedal power
1 8 Increase resistance and/or pedal power
1 5 Decrease resistance and/or pedal power
1 7 Increase resistance and/or pedal power
1 5 Decrease resistance and/or pedal power
3 3 Cool down at low intensity

Due to the nature of this super toning routine, your nutrition must be optimum and fluid intake must be of at least 2 litres per day.

This routine was designed by Doug Lawrenson, owner of Pro-Diets.com. Doug is an expert in both nutrition and training. If you would like to talk to Doug about this routine, or achieving your muscle and fitness goals you can catch him over on our forum.