Most women work their lower body and abdominal muscles but are afraid to engage in upper body training, as they think it will lead to developing muscular, bulky arms. This is not true. Building arm muscles with the right combination of exercises using proper resistance will give you sexy, toned, sleek arms. You need to engage in regular aerobics to burn fat overall and to uncover the muscles hiding beneath the subcutaneous, or under-the-skin, fat.
This classic exercise works all muscles of the upper body. To perform a basic push-up, place your hands flat on the floor (shoulder-width apart to emphasize the chest and shoulders or closer to emphasize the triceps muscles). Keep your arms straight, elbows unlocked. Straighten your legs behind you with your feet together. Rise up on your toes or knees (an easier modification), forming a straight line from your feet to your head; focus your vision on the ground below. Keeping your head still and aligned, slowly lower yourself until your upper arms are parallel to the ground. Avoid winging your elbows out to the sides. Pause and then slowly push yourself back up and repeat 10 to 12 times. Complete three sets.
The overhead press develops strong, defined shoulders. Developing your shoulders makes your waist appear smaller. Because you perform this exercise in a standing position, it also helps develop the abdominals, obliques and back, which stabilize the spine. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart (or slightly wider) holding a barbell to the top of your chest. Grip it with your palms facing outward. Straighten arms out and slowly lift the barbell overhead; pause (do not lock your elbows) and return to the starting position. Repeat 12 times. Rest and complete three sets of this exercise.
The alternating dumbbell curl is a top-notch biceps exercise. Alternating allows you to focus on one arm at a time for maximum muscle definition. Doing curls this way enables you to handle more weight and perfect your technique. To perform this exercise, take two dumbbells (start with 8 to 10 lbs.) and stand with your back straight and knees slightly bent, shoulder-width apart. Curl one dumbbell up to your shoulder as if you were trying to curl it past your shoulder. Slowly lower the dumbbell until it is in the resting position by your side; lift the other weight at the same time. Make sure to perform this exercise slowly and with extra control. Perform 12 curls on each arm, rest and repeat three sets of this exercise.
Begin by standing and gripping a 5-lb. dumbbell in your hand. Bend over to a 45-degree angle and tuck your elbows to your waist. Keeping your upper body parallel to the floor, slowly extend your forearm back, using your triceps muscles to work against both the weight and gravity. Straighten your forearm, but do not lock your elbows; pause and return to the starting position. Repeat 12 times and perform the exercise on the other side (with the other arm). Repeat on both sides two more times (completing three full sets). You may also perform this exercise by working both arms simultaneously. If you do it this way, pay special attention to proper form and exhale as you extend.
- National Academy of Sports Medicine Essentials of Personal Fitness Training, 3rd ed; Michael Clark, Scott Lucett and Rodney Corn
- Real Women's Fitness: Top 5 Arm Toning Exercises
- health and fitness girl 21 image by Paul Moore from Fotolia.com
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.