Shapely Arms for Summer Tops
By: Robin Reichert
Summer is upon us and it is time to get ready to look your best in those sleeveless summer tops. For many of us winter inactivity leads to the development of “bat wings or flabby, saggy skin on the back of our arms. You don’t have to go to the gym to get those shapely arms back. Here are a few exercises that take just minutes each day that you can do at home or in your office that will get your arms and upper body in shape in time for summer.
Why Are Arms A Problem?
Women are more likely than men to store extra fat on their hips, thighs, and on the back of the arms. Here’s a test to determine if this has happened to you. Hold your arms out parallel to the floor at shoulder height with your palms forward. Does the skin on the back of your arm sag toward the floor? Does it jiggle when you shake your arms? Can you pinch more than an inch of skin? Do the back of your arm appear soft and flabby? If so, then it’s time to firm, tone, and burn away that fat. For balance don’t forget the biceps and shoulders as well. There is only one-way to do this: strength exercises. The bad news is you are going to have to lift some weights. Lifting weights will tone and firm your arms and diminish the flab. The good news is that you can firm, tone, and slim your arms and upper body and be ready for sleeveless summer tops in as little as six weeks.
Here is a routine that will get you there:
Biceps curls are the most common and one of the easiest exercises to help firm and tone your biceps, forearms, and shoulders. You can do biceps curls while standing or sitting. If you haven’t lifted weights before, start with light two-pound dumbbells or a couple of bottles of water. Sit on a stable chair or stand with your feet about hip width apart. Keep your back straight and hold a weight in each hand with your palms facing upward or outward from your body. Use your bicep to pull the weight upward toward your shoulder. Don’t use your shoulder muscles and don’t swing the weight. Contract your bicep to lift your forearm and the weight toward your shoulder. Do two sets of 8 to 10 repetitions on each side. Increase the repetitions at each session by 1 to 2 repetitions until you can easily do 12 to 15 repetitions per set without tiring.
Chair dips will work the difficult-to-train triceps on the back of your upper arm. Toning and firming up your triceps will help reduce the appearance of the flab on the back of your arms. You can do chair dips just about anywhere using your own body weight. You can use a chair or a sturdy bench. Sit on the chair and place your hands palms down on the seat on each side of your thighs. Place your feet flat on the floor about hip-width apart. Grip the seat firmly and slowly scoot your butt off the chair. When your butt clears the chair, slowly lower your butt toward the floor until your elbows are bent at a 90-degree angle. Hold the position for a few seconds and then push your body back upward by straightening your arms. Try to avoid using your legs to push your body up. You are really going to feel the burn in your triceps, so do two sets of 3 to 5 repetitions the first time you try this exercise. Increase the number of repetitions by 1 or 2 per set until you can do 10 repetitions per set or 20 chair dips.
You can do the standing raise exercise with lightweight dumbbells or a couple of large bottles of water. Stand with your feet about hip-width apart and hold a bottle of water or a 2 to 3 pound dumbbell in each side. Hold the dumbbells with your arms extended and your palms facing inward toward your thighs. Keep your arms straight, but do not lock your elbows, and simultaneously bring both arms up and toward the center of your body. Stop when your arms are at shoulder height and straight in front of your body forming a “V” shape. Hold the position for a few seconds and lower your arms back to your sides. Do two sets of 8 to 10 repetitions. Increase the weight or repetitions, as you grow stronger.
Do strength exercises three days each week with one day of rest between strength exercises to give your muscles time to heal and recover. Try each of these exercises three times each week for firm, toned, and strong arms and shoulders.