Arm Yourself for Spring

Arm Yourself for Spring!
by Joy Karley, MA, CPT

arms

Your arms are one of the most visible parts of your body, especially in warm weather when long sleeves are uncomfortable and impractical.  Even many thin women are self-conscious about their arms, fearful of having jiggly arms like grandma.  Fortunately, arms are an area of the body that often responds quickly to strength training.

To tone and define your arms, you will need to work a few different muscle groups:

BicepsBiceps:  The biceps brachii run down the front of the arm from the shoulder to the elbow.  Their primary function is to flex, or bend the elbow.  I call them “shopping muscles” because they are the ones that help you pick up your shopping bags!

 

tricepsTriceps:  The triceps brachii run down the back of the arm from the shoulder to the elbow.  These are the ones that prevent “bat wings” or jiggly arms when you lift your arms.  Their function is to straighten your elbow and help bring your arms down and back behind your body.  These are the muscles you’d use to lift yourself out of a swimming pool with your back to the wall.

DeltoidDeltoids:  These are the muscles that shape the shoulders.  They lift your arms up to the front, side and back and overhead.  You use them virtually every time you use your arm.  They are also the key to getting that nice V-shaped “cut” at the top of your arm.

 

Now pick up your band/tube and try these exercises:

[10-15 reps with good form – If you have to strain or lose form, you are doing too many &/or using too much resistance]

Don’t have a band? Here are a few resistance bands FitEngine recommends:
aylio

Aylio 3 Loop Bands for Exercise (Light, Medium, Heavy) – $16.99

 

blackmt

 

Black Mountain Products Resistance Band Set with Door Anchor, Ankle Strap, Exercise Chart, and Resistance Band Carrying Case – $32.99

 

Click here to checkout all the items in the FitEngine store.

Overhead Press*:  Stand firmly on the center of the band with feet shoulder with apart.  Lift your spine tall, engage your abdominal muscles, and keep your knees “soft” or slightly bent for a stable base.  Hold the ends of the band in your hands.  Wrap the ends loosely but firmly and bring hands up to shoulder level, band taut, elbows bent.  Make sure the band runs in front of your body/arms, not behind your arms/shoulders.  Exhale as you press the arms straight overhead, as if you are putting your suitcase in the overhead compartment of an airplane.  Inhale and slowly lower the arms back to shoulder level with control.  Keep your neck relaxed and shoulders down, even as the arms go up and avoid letting the head jut forward as you press the arms up.
Targets:  Deltoids and Triceps
(Photo Credit: https://www.exercise.com)

Photo Credit: https://www.exercise.com

Upright Row*:  Stand firmly on the center of the band with feet shoulder with apart.   Lift your spine tall, engage your abdominal muscles, and keep your knees “soft” or slightly bent for a stable base.  Cross the ends of the band, wrap them loosely around your hands and hold your arms straight down in front of your body with the band taut.  Exhale and lift both hands up in front of your body, elbows poking out to the sides as if you are lifting two cans of paint.  Inhale and slowly lower arms to the starting position.  Keep your shoulders down and neck relaxed as you do this, and if you feel any pain or discomfort in your shoulders, do not lift the arms so high or avoid this exercise.
Targets:   Deltoids and Biceps
(Photo Credit: https://www.exercise.com)

Photo Credit: https://www.exercise.com

Lateral Raise*:   Stand firmly on the center of the band with feet shoulder with apart.  Lift your spine tall, engage your abdominal muscles, and keep your knees “soft” or slightly bent for a stable base.  Hold the ends of the band in your hands.  Wrap the ends loosely but firmly and hold your arms straight down by your sides, Band taut, arms bent a tiny bit, to create a very slight ballet-style curve in the arm.  Exhale and lift the arms out to a “T”, then inhale as you slowly lower them with control.  Relax your neck, keep your shoulders down, and keep your arms in your peripheral vision as you lift and lower.
Targets:  Deltoids
(Photo Credit: https://www.exercise.com)

Photo Credit: https://www.exercise.com

Hammer^ Curl*:  Stand firmly on the center of the band with feet shoulder with apart.  Lift your spine tall, engage your abdominal muscles, and keep your knees “soft” or slightly bent for a stable base.  Hold the ends of the band in your hands.  Wrap the ends loosely but firmly and hold your arms straight down by your sides, band taut.  Exhale as you bend the elbows, lifting the hands up to shoulder height as if you are lifting two hammers.  For the most comfortable hand/wrist position, face the palms in toward the body, with the band running over your index finger.  Inhale as you slowly lower the hands to your sides.  Keep your neck and shoulders relaxed as you curl.
Targets:  Biceps, forearms
(Photo Credit: https://www.exercise.com)

serverServe a Tray:  Wrap the band around the back of your ribs, just under the shoulder blades.  Bring it under your arms and wrap the ends loosely around your hands and hold them at waist height, elbows bent, forearms parallel to the floor, palms up, with the band taut.  Lift your spine tall, engage your abdominal muscles, and keep your knees “soft” or slightly bent for a stable base.  Exhale as you reach your arms straight out to the front, as if you are serving a tray.  Inhale as you slowly bring them back in.  Keep your neck and shoulders relaxed as you move.
Targets:  Shoulders, Biceps   
(Photo Credit: http://www.gymra.com/blog/pilates-arm-workout-by-kristen-mcgee/)

Photo Credit: https://www.exercise.com

Triceps Kick-Back:  Stand firmly on the center of the band with your left foot, holding one end in your right hand.  Slide your right leg back into a lunge position, keeping both feet parallel to each other, your back leg straight/front leg bent, hips and shoulders facing square to the front.  Tilt your entire body forward, so your face is looking down over your front foot, chest over the thigh, and your body making a straight, diagonal line from your head to your back heel.  Place your left hand on your left thigh for support, and hold the right hand at the right hip, band taut, elbow bent back at a right angle, upper arm parallel to the floor.  Exhale as you straighten the right arm and press the hand back behind you.  Inhale as you slowly bring it back to the hip.  Keep your abdominals engaged, shoulders and neck relaxed, and try to maintain the position of the upper arm (parallel to the floor) as you move.  Reverse to the other side.
Targets: Triceps, Deltoids
(Photo Credit: https://www.exercise.com)

Photo Credit: https://www.exercise.com

Overhead Triceps Press*:  Stand firmly on the center of the band with feet shoulder with apart.  Lift your spine tall, engage your abdominal muscles, and keep your knees “soft” or slightly bent for a stable base.  Hold the ends of the band in your hands.  Wrap the ends loosely but firmly and bring hands up to shoulder level, band taut, elbows bent.  Bring the band behind your arms and shoulders, so it runs down the back of your body, and bring the arm up straight overhead, palms facing in, keeping your shoulders down and neck relaxed.  Inhale as you slowly bend your elbows and bring your hands down to the back of your shoulders.  This should be a “hinging” movement, with your upper arm remaining stabilized in a vertical position, elbows pointing straight up to the ceiling.  Exhale as you press your hands back up overhead, as if you are holding a hammer in each hand, using it to strike the wall in front of you.  Take extra care to maintain good alignment and avoid arching your back, allowing your ribs/chest to stick out, head to just forward, or elbows to point out to the front or side.
Targets:  Triceps
(Photo Credit: https://www.exercise.com)

*Note:  if your tube/band is short, perform these exercises one arm at a time.
^Note:  if you have a tube with a handle, you can hold it palm forward, as if you are lifting a bag, for a regular biceps curl.

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