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A 20-Minute Full-Body Workout – See Results in Four Weeks

Start making fitness a priority by incorporating these strength training exercises into your daily routine. It’ll leave you looking and feeling fabulous!

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strength training exercisesphoto credit: shutterstock

Tone your body with our strength training exercises

When it comes to setting fitness priorities, toning ex­ercises should be high on your list – and for good reason: Strong, shapely muscles give you a slimmer look by im­proving your posture and tightening your torso. Recent studies show that whole body strength training exercises help stave off stubborn belly fat, control dia­betes and reverse muscle aging.

Get started with this 20-minute toning regimen, exclusive to Best Health. It targets muscles in your arms, chest, abs, back, butt and legs. If you do these exercises twice a week or more, ­taking at least one day off between workouts, you’ll be­gin to see results in as little as four weeks.

Want to be more flexible? Try this one-week stretching program.

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strength training exercises, stair step-upsillustrations: Kagan Mcleod

Strength training exercises: Stair step-ups

Works your butt, calves and thighs

12 reps each side

• Stand facing the bottom step of a staircase or a step at the gym.

• Place your right foot on the step, straighten­ing your right leg and raising yourself onto the step. As you do, bend your left knee up, raising your left leg directly in front of you.

• Briefly balance on your right leg (your left foot is in the air) and slowly lower your left foot to the floor, squatting slightly, without moving your right foot.

Best Health tip: Resist leaning forward by aligning your shoulders over your hips.

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strength training exercises, chest pressillustrations: Kagan Mcleod

Strength training exercises: Chest press

Works your chest and back of upper arms

12 reps per set

• Hold dumbbells (3 to 10 pounds) and lie face up on the floor or an exercise bench, with arms at chest level and elbows at 90 degrees. Bend your legs and place your feet on the floor, about hip width apart.

• Raise your arms toward the ceil­ing, palms facing forward. Bend your elbows and lower dumbbells un­til your upper arms are parallel to the floor (el­bows bent at 90 degrees, but not dropping below your shoulders if you’re on a bench) and return to starting position.

Best Health tip: When straightening your arms, align dumbbells over shoulders and chest, not with your face.

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strength training exercises, back extensionsillustrations: Kagan Mcleod

Strength training exercises: Back Extensions

Works your lower back

8 to 12 reps per set

• Lie face down, with your feet shoulder width apart and shoelaces on the floor.

• Place your fists at your temples and slowly raise your shoulders and chest off the floor, and hold there for one second. Lower to starting position and repeat.

Best Health tip: Make sure to lift with your torso rather than your head.

For better posture, try this workout.

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strength training exercises, Side Plankillustrations: Kagan Mcleod

Strength training exercises: Side plank

Works the ab muscles that wrap around your waist

8 to 12 reps per side 

• Lie on your left side, with your left hip and forearm on the floor, and your left elbow in line with your left shoulder. Rest your right hand on your top thigh.

• Scissor your right leg over your left leg, so that your left foot is about an inch in front of your right foot on the floor.

• Lift your right hip, balancing on your forearm and the sides of your feet to hold your body in a diagonal line. Hold for 15 seconds, work­ing your way up to 45 seconds and repeat.

Best Health tip: Keep your shoulders in line so that your chest faces forward, not toward the floor.

This ab move will not just give you a slim waist but also boost your sex life, too.

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strength training exercises, Wall Squatillustrations: Kagan Mcleod

Strength training exercises: Wall squat with biceps curls

Works your thighs, butt and biceps

12 reps per set

• Stand with your back against a wall and a dumbbell (3 to 10 pounds) in each hand. Your arms should be at your sides, with your palms facing forward.

• Slowly sit into a squat position, allow­ing your back to slide down the wall. At the same time, curl dumbbells toward your shoulders.

• Return to starting position as you lower your arms.

Best Health tip: Keep your feet far enough away from the wall so your knees don’t extend past your toes when you squat.

How fit are you? Find out with our “How fit Am I?” Fit Test.

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strength training exercises, Overhead Pressillustrations: Kagan Mcleod

Strength training exercises: Overhead press

Works your shoulders

12 reps per set

• Stand with your feet hip width apart, hold­ing dumbbells (3 to 10 pounds) at shoulder height, with your elbows pointing toward the floor.

• Lift dumbbells overhead until your hands are straight, keeping your arms aligned with your shoulders. Lower your arms, bringing weights back to starting position.

Best Health tip: Avoid arching your back or locking your knees.

This is the secret weapon for a killer abs workout.

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strength training exercises, Triceps Kickbacksillustrations: Kagan Mcleod

Strength training exercises: Triceps kickbacks

Works the back of your upper arms

12 reps per set

• Hold dumbbells (3 to 10 pounds) and sit on a fitness ball. Lean forward from your waist without rounding your back.

• Bend your arms so elbows are at 90 degrees, keeping your elbows close to your sides.

• Straighten your arms so that your forearms and dumbbells move behind you. Return to starting position.

Best Health tip: Make sure to keep your elbows behind you and your chest parallel to your thighs.

These two exercises alone can keep you fit for life.

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strength training exercises, One Arm Back Flysillustrations: Kagan Mcleod

Strength training exercises: One-arm back flys

Works the back of your shoulders and upper back

8 to 12 reps per arm

• Holding a dumbbell (3 to 10 pounds) in your right hand, palm in, stand with your feet hip width apart. Step forward with your left foot.

• Bend your left leg slightly and place your left hand on left thigh, leaning forward from your waist about 45 degrees without rounding your back. Squeeze your shoulder blades together slight­ly and raise your right hand to the side and back, stopping when the dumbbell is as high as your shoulder.

• Keep your palm towards the floor, lower your arm and repeat. Complete one set before switching your arm and leg.

Best Health tip: Keep your elbow slightly bent and hold your spine straight.

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Amanda Vogel is a certified fitness instructor with a master’s degree in human kinetics

Originally Published in Best Health Canada