(Guns, which way to the beach, pythons…)
Author: Amber French
Having acceptable arms for the summer has become a hot topic since Michelle Obama became the first lady. Here is what you need to know to work with what you’ve got and to get to where you would like to be.
Understanding your muscles and the actual size of each muscle is a pretty big eye opener for most of my clients (did you know that when you do a crunch you are affecting an area of your waist line that is approximately 2-3 inches tall??). Your arms are similar, the head of your bicep is very small and lifting weights in a bicep curl affect very few muscle fibres. Although we have heard that spot reduction (arms, abs, double chins etc) is not possible, people tend to not fully believe it. You CAN NOT be overweight and sprout a six pack no matter how many crunches you do. So here goes,
TIP # 1 Get a great CARDIO routine and do it most days of the week. You can actually hide some pretty well defined muscles under a pretty substantial layer of fat. You need to work out your heart and lungs to help reduce your overall body fat in order to see the muscle definition you are creating. The usual suspects work great here; walking, swimming, yoga, cycling etc.
Tip #2 has to do with opposing muscle groups. Most people work the muscle they see in the mirror. Biceps get worked regularly because we can see them. This tip goes for all muscles; always work the opposing muscle (the push to the pull). In my experience, arm definition has a lot to do with really well defined triceps. This muscle sometimes gets lost under our jiggly under arm fat. Which leads to…
Tip #3 is my secret weapon and such a good visualization for most women! If you are older (read: has saggy skin) or if you have lost a significant amount of weight (read: has saggy skin) you need to fill out NOT shrink your arms to make them look defined!!! You must work your biceps, (curls) triceps (overhead extensions or bench dips) AND you shoulders (lateral raises) to fill in the skin with muscle (and to be able to carry your own groceries!). The best way to get rid of your Bye-Bye arm (the skin that keeps waving long after you have said Good Bye) is to build up your bicep which actually pulls the skin up and reduces the amount of hang you have. This leads to tip #4…
Tip 4 is the most controversial…. pick up a weight that weighs more than your purse. Big weights don’t equal big guns. I am not saying 25lbs bicep curls need to be your goal, but anything that doesn’t tire your arms by the end of your first set is wasting time you don’t have to give. Women especially tend to shy away from heavier weights, mix your heavier weight WITH your high repetitions and consistency for the best overall benefits.
Lastly, some of the best arm workouts come from our own body weight. Functional exercises such as plyometrics or yoga tend to use our own weight and everyday movements to define and strength all aspects of your upper body that give fabulous overall definition to your arms. Check out these exercises below.
Downward Dog (add a slight push up to really set those arms on fire)
Tricep Dip (great off a park bench, or stacked yoga blocks)
Plank (engages shoulders, bicep and triceps)
Side Plank (leaving a slight bend in your arm and not locking out your elbow and shoulder, put all theeffort in your arm and set it ablaze!!)
Embrace the tank top and sleeveless and appreciate the work your arms do for you every day!
About the Author: Amber has been in the fitness and recreation game for over 15 years (not including school!!). She made fitness her life because as the age old saying goes, study and teach what it is you need to learn. In other words, she’s battles with some weight issues for many years and wants to share what she has learned along the way.
You can follow her @TheVeganHouse