We’re all a teensy bit guilty of having unrealistic expectations at the gym: a few squats and presto—one size smaller! Nothing works that fast, but with the right strategy you can see results in just two weeks, says Pete McCall, trainer and exercise physiologist with the American Council on Exercise. What makes that possible: focusing on muscles that respond fastest to strength training—those in your arms, shoulders, calves and lower abs.
Toning Move 1: Squat and Shoulder Press
Works butt, thighs, arms
Stand with feet hip-width apart holding five-pound weights in each hand, arms bent, palms facing in. Bend knees and squat, as shown; pause, then stand and press arms straight up over shoulders. Do 8 to 12 reps.
Toning Move 2: Pull Combo
Works butt, thighs, abs
Stand with feet hip-width apart, arms bent 90 degrees, with left hand near hip and right hand up by face, like a sprinter. Bend and lift left knee toward chest, then lean torso forward, extend left arm forward and left leg back, as shown. Return to standing, step left foot behind you and lower into a lunge, arms back in sprinter position; pause. Rise up in one explosive motion, swinging arms so they switch positions, lifting left knee toward chest and rising up onto toes of right foot. Do entire sequence 8 to 12 times; switch legs and repeat.
Toning Move 3: Crossover Lunge
Works calves, hamstrings, butt
Stand with arms at shoulder height, palms down. Step forward with right foot, crossing it in front of left. Lower into a curtsylike lunge (right knee shouldn’t go past toes) while twisting torso right, as shown. Untwist, push off right foot, return to start. Do 8 to 12 reps; switch legs and repeat.
Toning Move 4: Inchworm
Works abs, chest, arms
Bend forward, place hands on floor in front of toes, and walk hands forward, as shown, until you reach plank position. Do a push-up, then inch back to start. (Keep belly button pulled in.) Do 8 to 12 reps.
Toning Move 5: Kickback
Works triceps, back
Stand with right foot in front of left, holding a weight in left hand; lean forward with back flat; bend left elbow 90 degrees. Slowly extend arm back, lifting weight as high as you can, as shown; pause. Lower and repeat. Do 12 to 15 reps; switch sides and repeat.