Apr 12, 2013

Tone Up the Arms

Before I became an instructor and started using weights, I was always hesitant to do upper body work. My arms have never been a problem area for me, and hence I always skipped the weights and focused more on cardio and strengthening my core. However, using weights during your workout can help to reduce body fat and build muscle mass. This not only changes the shape of the body, but speeds up our metabolism. I want to share with you a great upper body workout to tone up the arms. Notice how the lower body remains engaged throughout the exercises to keep the whole body working, making the most of our time.  Also, if you don't have weights, thats okay. Get creative and grab a couple of shampoo bottles or canned food items! We are going to be doing a lot of repetitions, so you don't need a whole lot of weight.

To strengthen the back, let’s start with rows. Feet are hip width apart with bent knees in a squat position. Maintain a natural arch in your spine and engage the abdominals throughout the workout. Start with weights at your chest, shoulders down and back. Reach both arms out in front of you and pull both arms back in. As the elbows graze past the rib cage I want you to squeeze your shoulder blades together. That’s one. Let’s do 24 reps. 

From there let’s alternate our arms, reaching right and then left. Again, focus on the area right between your shoulder blades and keep your neck long by dropping your shoulders --don’t let your shoulders become earrings! 24 each arm. 

From here let’s work our shoulders as we go into an over head press. Weights (or shampoo bottles) start at the chest with elbows wide. Exhale as you press weights overhead. Inhale and keep elbows wide as you bring the weights back down to your chest. Do this 12 times standing with your feet hip width apart, core engaged, slight bend in the knees and a natural curve in the back. 

If you feel comfortable, I want you to add a lunge. As you press overhead, step back with one leg and bend both knees. Make sure your weight is staying in your front heel and the knee remains stacked over the heel. As the weights come back to the chest, bring your feet together. Alternate legs, 12 each side, 24 overhead presses total. If you’re more advanced, hold the lunge and do 6 overhead presses each side. 

The triceps are so important to shape the arms. We really want to burn out the back of the arm in order to maximize our upper body. Let’s start with tricep kickbacks. Similar to the row, we start with feet hip width apart, knees bent, core engaged. Weights start at the chest. Exhale as you extend your arms all the way straight behind you. Inhale as arms come back into your chest. Repeat for 12 times. 

On your last kickback, hold your arms straight behind you, above your hips. Keeping the arms straight lift the weights one inch up and one in down, 24 times. We should start to feel the burn! Then, without breaking, squeeze the weights one inch toward the center of your body and out. Keep the arms as long as possible shoulders down the back, squeeze for 24 times. Last but not least we put it together, alternate lifting the weights up and down and inch then squeeze the weights in and out an inch. Do this combo eight times. Your arms should be on fire!

Combine this upper body arm workout with this cardio-core exercise and this booty workout. This total body tone up should take around 15-20 minutes to complete and is a quick, well-rounded workout to do at home, in your hotel room, or on your lunch break. 

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