A lot of women ask me regularly what they can do to improve their arm strength and tighten up those loose areas. So this post is for you ladies!
I wanted to provide a step by step guide and explain where these movements will target. And also help you get started so you can get stronger over time.
There are three main areas I focus on when I think of arms and that is shoulders, biceps, and triceps. There are TONS of exercises for these areas, but this post will be a starter post.
The shoulder press can be done sitting or standing. Sitting is better for those with poor balance or if you are attempting this for the first time.
Start without weights at first. Just do a practice set of 10 to make sure you are keeping proper form. When you press, keep your arms by your ears, and on your way down, make sure you stop at a 90 degree angle.
Now… you’ve done your practice set, and you’re ready to add weight, but how much and how many reps?
If you are looking to “tone”, then you really want to do a lower weight with higher reps. For example: use 5-10 pound weights and shoot for 15-20 reps. This motion repetitively will induce a higher heart rate which is excellent for fat burning. Always shoot for 3-4 sets.
If you are looking to “build”, then you want the heaviest weight you can handle (with proper form) for 8-12 reps. In this photo I am using 25 pound dumbbells. Sitting on a bench usually allows you to push heavier weight. For me, I can increase by 5 more pounds and use 30 pound dumbbells.
If you are new to the weight lifting scene and you would like to build, I would still start with high reps and low weight first until you feel that your first two sets are a breeze. Once you consider those first two sets easy, move up in weight. Attempt a 5 pound increase per dumbbell. And do not be afraid to ask for a spot from someone nearby or a staff member!
Another great shoulder exercise is the standing/upright barbell row. You will definitely feel the burn in those shoulders!
You want to place your hands a little further than shoulder width apart. You will see markers on the barbell itself. Keep your back straight and pull the barbell up to your chest and keep your elbows pointing out as shown above.
Again, start with extremely light weight or a plastic rod (or broom even) to make sure your form is appropriate to avoid injury.
The bicep curl is the most common exercise to improve your bicep strength. Above you will see the three step movement to ensure proper form while doing your curl. It is important not to throw your weight up to your chest. If you feel that you are struggling to the point of swinging your dumbbells/barbell, you need to lower your weight.
If you are attempting this for the first time, please do 10 reps without weight just to make sure you are comfortable with the movement.
Then as we discussed above in the SHOULDERS section, use light weight to get comfortable with your form and to tone the area. Gradually build your weight to improve strength. Doing 15-20 reps will keep your heart rate up. Doing 8-12 heavy reps will begin the building process. Always shoot for 3-4 sets.
This exercise is what we call the Tricep Kick-back. Tricep movements will help tighten up the backsides of your arms. This is the number one area I am asked about regularly by my patients. So I wanted to be sure I added this into the post.
There are many tricep exercises, but we will focus just on the kick-back and rope pull down.
This machine being used is the cable machine. My gym (Anytime Fitness in Madison) actually has tons of attachments for this machine. One of my favorites is the rope attachment.
If you have never tried using the rope attachment or a cable machine at your gym, ask a staff member to assist you in hooking it up. This way you can learn how to use this equipment properly.
Once you are all hooked up, attempt 10 reps with no weight to achieve proper form. You want to pull the rope down to where your arms are creating a 90 degree angle. You do NOT want to break this angle and begin bringing your arms to your chest. Next, you want to fully extend your arms downward and twist your wrists to swing the ends of the rope outwards as shown above.
As discussed earlier in the SHOULDERS and BICEPS sections, begin with light weight and high reps until you are more comfortable with the movements. Once you gain comfort with this movement, you can begin to increase your weight.
I hope this post was helpful! If you have questions, please leave a comment in the section below. You may also share this post by clicking the social media icons below!