One of the hottest body parts a woman can rock are her arms. We can all agree to disagree when it comes to the female bust, hips, waist or legs, but there really is no denying that strong, well defined arms are coveted by all. As we begin to pull out our summer clothes, it is time to focus on making the most of what we’ve got up top. I’m inspired by Michelle Obama, Cameron Diaz and Jessica Biel – feminine women who wear strong arms with sexiness and confidence. If you were less than thrilled with your own arms this past sunny weekend, read on.
Feeling self-assured in your strapless dress takes more than watching what you eat and time on the treadmill. You gotta work it, girl. You’ll feel the benefits almost immediately, which makes the process all the more rewarding. A tinge of soreness can feel good, and means you’re one step closer to the arms you desire. Here are some things to try:
There is an app called Arm Workout – this free application allows you to choose 5, 7.5 or 10 minute arm workouts. A video with text instructions shows a personal trainer demonstrating the exercises. They change on a regular basis, which mixes up your routine and covers the arms, shoulders and chest muscles. Did you know you can get your arms fit and fab while you are waiting for water to boil?
If the backs of your arms are where you are less than pleased, you are not alone. This is a favorite fat storage spot for most. The triceps muscle back there is longer and thinner (smaller) than the biceps muscle in the front of the upper arm; bigger muscles are more metabolic than smaller muscles, burning the surrounding fat more readily than fat stored in other areas. You can do triceps exercises almost anywhere, with little or no equipment needed. Try chair dips:
- Sit on the edge of a sturdy chair with your hands holding the seat on either side of your tush. Keep your feet flat on the floor. Slide your tush off the chair seat and walk your feet forward slightly, so your knees are directly over your ankles, forming 90-degree angles with your legs. Keeping your shoulders down, slowly bend your elbows back, lowering your body toward the floor until your upper arms are nearly parallel to the floor. Lower your body for a 2 second count, then press back up to starting for 2 seconds. Repeat for one whole minute.
The best arm workout for you is the one you will actually enjoy doing. Many people think they need to go to the gym and hit the weights to have a buff bod, but some of the sexiest arms are attached to yogis, people who practice the Barre method, pilates students and dancers. These forms of exercise rely heavily on using one’s own body weight, which helps with coordination and grace (a nice side effect!). Give a Chaturanga a go:
- Lying face-down, with your hands flat on the floor at your chest, smoothly push your body off the ground just 2 to 3 inches and hold it there, palms flat, elbows squeezing tightly toward one another. Think about holding your tummy in so you are like a solid straight board. Do this for 10 repetitions, holding each repetition for a few seconds and working on slowly raising and lowering into position.
Some people are afraid that lifting heavy weights will lead to huge muscles. This is not usually the case; actually, it takes an unbelievable amount of hard work, muscle soreness and intensity to increase your muscle size. Maintaining it can be even harder! The work you need to do for strong, fit, but not bulky muscles can come from just a few minutes of strategic work throughout the week. If you are a gym-goer and weight lifter, and undaunted by free weight exercises, new research from Central Michigan University concluded that lifting heavier weights 6 – 8 times is more beneficial than lifting lighter weights with higher repetitions for getting rid of jiggle. It also boosted strength, but not necessarily muscle size. You don’t need to work to exhaustion, or spend days recovering from heavy lifting, but you should feel slightly fatigued and a little tingle that reminds you that you had an arm workout.
My personal go-to when I’m looking to feel especially good in a tank top is the old fashioned push up. It works the chest, back, arms and postural muscles and I do it everywhere. For extra benefit, a tricep push up really targets the arms:
- With hands close together so the thumb and pointer finger on each hand form a triangle on the ground, support yourself with your toes or knees on the floor so your body forms a long plank. Gently lower your body by bending your elbows to a 90 degree angle. Slowly extend your arms to return to start position. If this is really challenging, practice against the wall, then graduate to a chair or bench and finally all the way down to the ground.
I look forward to seeing you in your fit-arm-glory this summer. Spend 10 minutes getting ready for your sundresses, short sleeves and strapless sassiness 4 – 5 days a week. You’ll feel great and look amazing. Can I see a flex?