Best exercises to tone muscles

With beach season dangerously close, everyone is looking to tone and tighten. But it's going to take more than cutting back on the sweets and going for a run every once in awhile to achieve the results you're looking for.

Men and women tone their muscles differently because, typically, women tend to have more fat cells than men do in their thighs, hips and bottoms. Conversely, men's stomachs are more likely than women's to accumulate fat cells.

Body fat comes from the total number of fat cells in your body and the size of these cells. The human body has about 30 billion fat cells, but they are often not evenly distributed. When people lose weight, those fat cells simply become skinnier.

One of the best ways to start depleting those fat cells is by adding some strength training into your exercise routine and getting more protein into your diet, whether it's through protein powders or meal replacement shakes. By building muscle, you'll be burning more calories and be getting closer to that dream body of yours. As a general rule for both men and women, it's important to start off with an intensity you're comfortable with.

For your arms…

Tricep dips: Using your own body weight, use a chair or a bench to hold yourself up with your elbows locked. Lower yourself slowly down until your elbows are bent and reach a 90-degree angle. Keep your head straight as you press up to the starting position.

Chin ups: This exercise really works your biceps. Find a sturdy bar and hang onto it with your palms facing toward you and let yourself hang. Pull yourself up and reach your chin over the bar.

For your core…

Bicycles: Laying on your back, make sure your lower back is pressed to the ground. Place your hands behind your ears, lift your feet off of the floor and elevate your knees above your hips. Complete the exercise by touching your right elbow to your left knee, followed by your left elbow to your right knee. The exercise should be a continuous movement.

Vertical leg crunch: Lay on your back with your lower back pressed to the ground. Place your hands behind your ears, making sure your elbows are straight out to the side and not in view. Extend and lift your legs straight up over the hips with a slight bend in the knees. Keeping your eyes focused on the ceiling, lift your torso toward your knees and slowly release down.

For your legs…

Squats: This exercise tones your thighs. Start with your feet shoulder-width apart. Bending your knees, lower your rear end toward the ground. As your knees near a 90-degree angle, exhale and push yourself back up to the starting position. Make sure your knees never go over your feet as you complete the exercise.

Leg lifts: You can easily compete this exercise right in your own home. Lay on your right side on a mat and rest your elbow on the ground. Kick your right leg up toward the sky and slowly lower it down to the starting position. Once you've completed the appropriate amount of reps, switch sides.