How Women Can Tone Arms and Thighs and Firm Sagging Skin

Aug 16, 2010Updated 6 months ago

Exercise Routine for Older Women
Even when young, women have less muscle mass than men because women have less testosterone (Yes, women do have some testosterone). Women also have a more difficult time maintaining existing muscle mass, well, unless they're professional bodybuilders who religiously work out with weights, heavy weights at that, and I seriously doubt anyone reading this article is a professional bodybuilder.

As women age, however, their testosterone gradually diminishes until it either disappears entirely or becomes so miniscule as to be negligible, and with this loss comes a corresponding decline in muscle mass, and this holds true even for female bodybuilders, although their loss isn’t as drastic or pronounced, namely because they lift weights on a regular basis. Moreover, as women's bodies lose muscle mass, they also lose tone, and the result is sagging flesh, most notably under arms and on inner thighs. It is possible, though, for you to regain muscle mass and firm unsightly sagging flesh by performing specific exercises and doing them only three days a week in the privacy or your own home.

Moreover, just as it isn't necessary for you to join a gym or fitness center, neither is it necessary for you to purchase expensive equipment or special clothing in order to get in shape and stay in shape. In fact, you can wear your raggedy old sweats, and the only expenditure will be that associated with purchasing a few necessary but relatively inexpensive pieces of equipment, all of which are affordably priced at discount stores like Wal-Mart, Target, and Kmart, although used equipment can often be found for sale on Craig’s List and e-bay. You might also try yard sales. In fact, not too long ago, I found several excellent sets of dumbbells at a local yard sale, and I bought them for a mere fraction of what they would cost new.

The only items that are necessary for you to work out effectively at home are the following:

  • large inflatable exercise ball (often called a stability ball)
  • set of 5-lb dumbbells
  • set of 8-pound dumbbells
  • set of 10-pound dumbbells
  • set of 12-pound dumbbells
The exercise ball is great for stretching back muscles, doing sit-ups to tighten abdominal muscles, doing push-ups to tone and firm arm and chest muscles, and executing movements to improve overall posture, though it can also be used for a wide variety of other exercises (see the manual that comes with the ball). Using the ball can also help improve your balance.
Exercise Ball from Google Images (2014)
In addition to the equipment noted above, if your budget allows, you might also consider purchasing a padded workout bench, specifically one that adjusts to an incline position, since certain exercises tend to be more effective when executed from an incline position. However, you can improvise by using an ironing board. Just prop it against a sofa, large chair, or study coffee table of an appropriate height, making certain the board won’t slip sideways or backwards when you exercise.

It's important to note that you should purchase heavier dumbbells (15, 20, and even 25-pound) when the weights specified above begin to feel light and lifting them no longer presents a challenge. For instance, when you can easily do numerous repetitions (reps) with 12 pounds, it’s time to go up to 15 pounds.

Case in point, according to Arnold Schwarzenegger, seven-time winner of the Mr. Olympia title, “Any kind of exercise program depends on the ‘training effect’ for its results. This merely means that when the body is subjected to unusual stress over a period of time, it adapts itself so that it can deal more effectively with that stress” (Bodybuilding, 1985, p. 68). In other words, when a person lifts weights regularly, his or her muscles become increasingly stronger, and as muscles become stronger, a person can lift heavier weights. It’s called cause and effect:

  • Cause = lifting weights; effect = stronger muscles
  • Cause = stronger muscles; effect = lifting heavier weights
Providing support for Schwarzenegger’s argument, research has demonstrated that the biggest mistake individuals make when it comes to lifting weights is lifting weights that are too light. The weight must be challenging. In fact, according to exercise physiologist Stephen Glass of Grand Valley University in Michigan, “The weight should be heavy enough that you can’t lift it 20 times,” and the final repetition should be difficult to complete (Yeager, p. 288).

The important thing, though, is for you to listen to your body. Some women will be comfortable initially lifting 10 pounds, others eight, and others only five. What matters, though, isn’t the amount of weight used in the beginning but that you progress to a heavier weight when the time is right. And, no, contrary to popular misconception, lifting heavier weights will not turn you, or any woman, into a Arnold Schwarzenegger clone with 23-inch biceps, at least not unless you are a genetic oddity or take massive doses of steroids.

Specific Exercises to Tone and Firm Sagging Muscles

On the three-day-a-week workout for toning arms and thighs, you should do the following exercises, each of which works specific body parts:

In summary, after only a few weeks of following this exercise program, you will note improvement in the appearance of your arms and thighs, but you will also note improvement in your overall appearance as you gain muscle mass and lose fat. And, who knows, but you may very well awaken one morning, glance in the mirror, and realize that you are in the best shape of your life. And won't that be cause to celebrate?


  • Schwarzenegger, A. (1985) Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding; New York: Simon and Schuster
  • Yeager, S. “Healthy You: Strong for Life;” Better Homes and Gardens, September 2007