Beautiful Arms on a Budget
Beautiful Arms on a Budget
Now that the weather is warmer and we’re wearing a lot less clothing, you may be noticing a little less tone than you’d like in your upper body. No worries – I’ve got a plan that will get tight, toned and sculpted right in time for summer. Plus Michelle Obama and various other celebrities have shown us that muscle is the next sexy!
Try the following four exercises, three times per week on alternating days for the next four weeks and you’ll be impressed with the changes to your muscle conditioning. Say good-bye to flabby arms
The chin-up is one of the best upper body exercises and is definitely one of my favorite compound upper body movements. The problem is most people can’t perform a full chin-up without assistance.
Fortunately, most gyms offer a Gravitron or other Assisted Chin-up machines enabling most people to incorporate chinups into their workout routine because the machines offer assistance. The model at your gym may be either a stand-up or kneel model and it may either be computerized or involve only a weight stack. The instructions on the front of the machine will clearly demonstrate how to complete the set-up process.
You will also notice that the chin-up exercise allows you to choose between 3-4 different grips – a wide grip, a mid-grip, a narrow grip and a reverse mid-grip. We recommend to our clients that they use all the various grips to challenge their muscles with a slightly different stimulus with each set.
Once you have decided upon the grip, technique is pretty simple. As you pull with your arms, your body will lift upwards. Stop once your chin has cleared the bar. Slowly return to the starting position. Attempt to achieve full range of motion without locking out on your elbows. Try to focus on pulling with the muscles in your back rather than your arms. Perform a set of 8-12 rep.
To perform this exercise at home, you can purchase a chin-up bar at most department stores or fitness equipment retailers for a very low cost (or head to your local park and use the monkey bars). Since a regular chin-up bar doesn’t offer the assistance most people need, we suggest you either use a small bench or just use your legs to jump up to the bar and then control the release on the way down. If your strength isn’t up to the point of lifting or lowering your body weight at all then you can just keep your feet on the bench/ground and lift and lower as much of your body weight as you can handle. With time and consistency, you will be able to lift and lower more of your weight soon!
Lie on your stomach. Position your hands on the floor a few inches beside your shoulder. Make sure that your elbows are directly over top or to the inside of your wrists. Keep your abdominals contracted and your back in its neutral position. Now slowly push up and slowly lower down to the starting position. Relax for a few seconds. Do it again. Perform 8-15 repetitions. (Placing your hands on an incline like a bench, step or wall, will provide a more gentle entry level option also). Advanced – Perform the same exercise as above but now from your toes.
Lie on your stomach over a bench or step, grab a light set of handweights (or soup cans) and position both arms straight to the side beside shoulders. Use your back muscles to slightly extend your spine so you are not collapsed and flexed over the step. Arms are perpendicular to your body with elbows just slightly bent. Now slowly lift both arms upwards while pulling shoulder blades together. Keep your neck in a neutral position, abdominals contracted and back stable. Perform 8-20 reps.
Lie on your back on a step/bench holding free weights (soup cans) with legs suspended in the air and knees bent at 90 degrees. Start with arms positioned straight up over your shoulders. Slowly lower the weights to the side until your elbows are bent at the side at shoulder height and hands positioned over elbows. Slowly press the hand-weights back upwards. Contract chest muscles as you press up and in. Perform 8-12 reps with enough resistance that fatigues you.
PS. We are hosting a Triathlon Training Clinic every weekend. Triathlons are another way to work your entire body, especially your arms! We will help get you to the finish line.
PPS. At least half of the battle of creating the physique you want is your nutrition. Fortunately, one of our trainers at Northwest Personal Training is hosting a FREE workshop “Octane Nutrition” which will help you lose weight and increase your energy and improve your health. Join us Tuesday May 28th.
Sherri McMillan, M.Sc. has been inspiring the world to adopt a fitness lifestyle for over 25 years and has received numerous industry awards including International Personal Trainer and Fitness Presenter of the Year. She is the author of five books including “Go For Fit – the Winning Way to Fat Loss” and “Fit over Forty” and is the featured presenter in various fitness DVDs. She is the owner of Northwest Personal Training in downtown Vancouver and can be seen running, hiking or cycling with her two children, Brianna and Jackson. She can be reached at www.nwPersonalTraining.com or www.ShapeupwithSherri.com
Note: As an avid Columbian reader, you can redeem a 2 week pass at her world-class training studio to help get you started. Contact 360.574.7292 for more details.