Clear tips and exercises to get strong and toned arms for summer!
Summer is almost here. (Yeah!) I can't begin to tell you how happy that makes me; it is almost impossible for me to be in a bad mood when the sun is shining.
With summer comes tank tops, short sleeves and sleeveless dresses, not to mention fun summer sports such as tennis and basketball.
Basically, strong and toned arms are a must! (Notice that I said STRONG and toned — I believe in not just focusing on the aesthetic benefits of exercise! Work out to feel strong, athletic, empowered, energized and capable. Looking good is simply an added bonus!)
Five tips for strong and toned arms!
1. Change up your routine regularly. Even if you are already doing arm exercises, the annoying truth is that over time, even great exercises become less effective, not to mention boring. Challenge your body by always trying new exercises.
If you love your current routine, and thus don't want to change the exercises you are doing, at least modify your reps, sets or tempo (lifting speed). Instead of two sets of each exercise, do three. Or instead of aiming for 15 repetitions, use heavier weights and aim for 10 to 12 repetitions. Or change up your tempo: Go slower or add pauses throughout the exercises.
2. Exercising is always only one small piece of the puzzle. Pay attention to your nutrition.
3. Don't just do exercises that isolate your arm muscles; improve your overall metabolism by doing full-body strength-training exercises like squats and interval cardio workouts.
4. Before you try any fancy arm exercises, make sure you have mastered the basics. Perfect your form.
5. Make sure your arm program is balanced. For example, for every triceps exercise you do, you should also do a biceps exercise.
A few of my favourite "basic" arm exercises
Triceps straight-arm pullover: Lie on your back with your legs bent and feet on floor. Hold a weight in each hand with arms straight over your shoulders. Palms face each other. Keep your arms straight and slowly lower your arms backward until they reach your ears. Pause for a second and return to the starting position. Repeat 12-15 times.
French press: Lie on your back with your legs bent and feet on floor. Hold a weight in each hand, arms straight up over your shoulders, palms facing each other. Keep still from your elbow to your shoulder as you bend at your elbows so the weight lowers toward your ears. Return to starting position and repeat 12-15 times.
To make both exercises harder, do them with your head and shoulders on a stability ball.
Biceps to shoulder press: Hold a weight in each hand. Bend at your elbows and curl the weights up toward your shoulders and then press the weights over your head. Lower back down and repeat for 12-15 reps.
To challenge your balance, stand on one leg as you perform the exercise.
For some variety, try a set of 11s. Start with 10 French presses followed by one biceps curl to shoulder press. Then do nine French presses and two biceps curls to shoulder presses. Continue to decrease the French press by one repetition and increase the biceps curls until you are doing one French press and 10 biceps curls. The reps should always add up to 11. Attempt to take minimal breaks throughout the set.
Two of my favourite "fancy" arm exercises
Plank with triceps kickback: Start in a plank position, hands under shoulders. Don't arch or round your back. Holding a weight in your right hand, glue your right elbow to your right hip, then keep your hips level as you use your triceps to straighten and bend your right arm. Do 8-15 reps and then switch sides.
Alternating shoulder-elbow press: Place your stomach on a stability ball, feet against a wall. Hold a weight in each hand, elbows bent and glued to your sides. Straighten your right arm backward so that the weight moves toward your feet. Simultaneously press your left arm by your ear. Return both elbows to their starting position. Repeat 10 times. Then, switch sides.