I need to clear something up.
It’s about something that really annoys me.
I was minding my own business in a very well known coffee shop enjoying a seasonal pumpkin beverage, when two ladies came in who had obviously just finished some sort of exercise class. I couldn’t help but overhear their conversation and they started to discuss using weights. ‘I know Crossfit is so popular, but I just don’t want to get into that whole weight-lifting thing’ one lady said as her companion nodded vigorously, ‘I mean, who wants to look all veiny like Arnold Schwarzenegger?’
And that right there is my problem.
Arnold Schwarzenegger’s veins.
It’s an issue that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately and it’s starting to irritate me in the same way my Grandma would get irritated if you sat on her cushions the wrong way (yes apparently there is a correct way to sit on cushions – who knew?)
Ladies, I need to clear this up and I’m going to ask you to look me in the eye so you know I am telling you the truth. Using weights or resistance bands will not, repeat not, make you look like a big gorilla unless you want them to.
Which is great because I like waxing and my husband is allergic to bananas – no seriously, he actually is.
WHAT DO THE EXPERTS SAY?
The current advice regarding physical activity for adults aged 17-64 is EITHER 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity per week OR 150 minutes of moderate to intense aerobic activity per week PLUS 2 days of some sort of muscle strengthening activity.
Muscle strength is important.
Do you want to be able to pick stuff up? Sometimes moderately heavy stuff – like your dog or your children? Heck yeah you do.
A muscle strengthening activity doesn’t have to be a dead lift. Yoga, pilates, exercises using resistance bands, sit-ups, press-ups, or lightly weighted exercises all count. I am a real advocate for using light weights during appropriate exercises as the weight gives you a little more bang for your buck. I also highly recommend the use of resistance bands. Further to this, I solemnly promise that if you incorporate any of my weighted workouts into your exercise regime you will not develop rippling muscles and be called upon by Hollywood Producers to star in the latest remake of The Terminator!
SO WHAT WEIGHTS SHOULD I USE?
I use 2-5lb weights – click on the image below to see more product information*. This suits my exercise needs but you can go bigger if you like. Try picking up a 2lb weight, it really doesn’t feel that heavy but it’s 2lbs heavier than your arm right now so it makes you work a little harder.
When you first start to use weights you will notice that your arms may shake a little. This is perfectly normal and it also happens when you get tired. I advise you to slow your movements right down and concentrate on making your movement as fluid as possible. You want to work with the resistance of the weight – not let it drag you around. Show that weight who’s boss girl!
HELP! I NEED MORE DIRECTION here
Chances are that when you’ve done resistance-type exercises at home, it’s been in the form of sit-ups, crunches or press-ups. Maybe you’ve also done a few resistance band workouts via a search on Pinterest.
I have six different strengthening exercises that are designed to specifically target the arms.
Given the chance, your arms will become a prime fat storage area but this isn’t irreversible. Pregnancy weight, menopausal changes, age and lifestyle can all contribute to the dreaded bat-wing syndrome and It can be embarrassing. Maybe you want to wear a sleeveless top but feel that you can’t because of your arms. If this is you – let’s start working on that right now.
If your arms are in great shape, don’t get too comfortable. These exercises are for you too. They’re called: maintenance!
SEVEN GREAT ARM TONING EXERCISES
THE BICEP CURL
This exercise is probably the most well-known and popular arm exercise. It works the biceps which are found on the upper arm between the elbow and the shoulder. They are actually two connected muscles and are used to flex the forearm. Standing straight with your legs hip-width apart, hold your weights by your side and flex up towards your shoulders as shown in the diagram. Repeat for 15-30 reps. Completing these exercises with your core engaged will give an extra workout. To learn about how to engage you core muscles, read my blog post on the Ultimate Core Workout.
LATERAL ARM RAISES
This exercise starts with your arms loosely by your side. Legs are hip width apart. Keeping your arms straight move them out and up. Feel a squeeze between your shoulder blades at the top of each repetition. Do 10-30 reps.
THE TRICEP CURL
The triceps form the large muscle at the back of your upper arm. The starting position for this exercise is a straight stance as shown in the diagram above. Bend your arms at the elbow and bring your weights down behind your head until your fists are parallel with your ears. Do 10-30 reps.
Triceps dips are a lot like reverse press-ups for your triceps. I suggest using a towel or a non-slip exercise mat for added stability. Plant both feet squarely on the mat with your arms behind you, fingers pointing back towards your back as shown above. Try not to allow your arms to be placed too far behind your shoulders. they should make a straight line from your shoulders to the mat. Keeping your core engaged, dip your arms until your buttocks almost touch the mat, then revert to the starting position. Repeat for 10-30 reps. This exercise is my favorite.
This exercise can be a little intimidating and if you are new to working out, it’s hard! To make it easier you can execute this exercise on all fours and rest on your knees. Doing this will take the pressure off your core and you will just be working your arms and chest. Control your ascent and descent and feel the push through the arms to the chest. Aim to do 10-50 reps. Set a goal to do full press-ups as soon as you are able.
THE CHEST PRESS
Lie on your back with your knees comfortably bent as shown in the diagram. Start with your elbows down and out to the sides, weights pointing upwards. Your elbows may gently touch the ground. Push your arms back up until they are straight (as shown above). Repeat and build to 20-30 reps. This exercise should feel like a rowing motion – you should feel a push through the chest area into the arms.
THE CHEST FLY
This looks similar to the chest press but in this routine you are pulling your arms open and out to your sides. Your starting position is lying on your back. Raise and bend your knees and extend your arms (as shown in the diagram). If it feels uncomfortable to have your legs raised, place your feet flat on the floor but keep your knees bent (see the chest press diagram above). Your hand held weights should be parallel with your face. Pull out away from your body and extend your arms out to the side keeping them slightly bent. Hold for a few seconds and then push back to the starting position. Repeat 20-30 reps.
THAT’S ALL FOLKS … OR IS IT?
If you would like access to my password protected page to download my free, printable exercise cards you can sign up in the box below. There are several workouts to choose from and you can mix and match according to your schedule.