It may not be a universal truth that all women want tight, slim and toned arms, but most of them do. Trust me, I GET IT!!
I too, in the past, have thrown my arms into the air out of excitement and watched the ripple effect of extra skin swaying long after the enthusiasm is over. I too, have flicked the underside of my arm and witnessed it shake and jiggle to the beat of hip hop. And I, too, have worn long sleeve shirts in the dead of summer to avoid overexposure, and I’m not talking about the sun.
When I first started training to become a Pilates instructor, I was incredibly weak in my upper body. I could barely achieve a push-up on my knees. I would watch my master Pilates instructors perform handstands and balancing poses, and immediately felt defeated. I will never forget the euphoria I felt when I got strong enough to do the same moves, and the sense of elation when I could balance on my arms and trust that I had total control. I felt unstoppable.
I get asked almost every day what the secret is to toned arms. It is often followed by an expression of alarm—by working the arms, many fear they will get bigger, bulkier, too cut and masculine-looking. Most women want some definition—the line in the shoulder—but not so much that they lose their femininity.
From my point of view, toned arms happen naturally when you get stronger. Of course, when I first started, my intention and only focus was to get more toned. But as I got stronger and stronger, the intention became less about toning and more about the capabilities and possibilities of what my body could do. My strength became my focus, and it became my mantra. Strong was my skinny. Strong was my feminine. Strong was my new sexy, and tight arms were just icing on the cake.
Strong arms represent a woman who works hard for what she has, a woman who pushes herself to be better, who loves the feeling of being powerful. They represent a woman who can pick up moving boxes without strain to walk into her very own apartment for the first time or a woman who can pick up her child with ease.
So flex your strong arms and try these three exercises that you can do anywhere, anytime—with absolutely no gym membership required! These exercises incorporate both weight training and Pilates philosophies. Trust me, they won’t bulk you up. If you practice these exercises weekly, you will get stronger over time and achieve the arms you’ve always desired!
*If you have any condition that would impair or limit your ability to engage in physical activity, please consult a physician before attempting this activity. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment.
STRONG ARM ROUTINE
Try 1-3 sets of each exercise! Start with one of each, if you feel you can keep going, repeat it all again. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day. So take your time and have fun!
MOUTAIN CLIMB PUSH-UPS
This is a great exercise that works the arms, core and gives you some cardio!
With your hands on the floor, a little wider than shoulder width apart, start in a plank position with
knees off the floor. In your plank, try to keep your backside in line with your shoulders, so your body is flat like a coffee table. Your core is engaged and shoulders directly over wrists. Keep your legs strong and arms pushing the floor away. INHALE, bend the elbows and lift the right knee to the outside of the right elbow.
1) EXHALE, push back up to start position and returning leg back to the floor.
2) INHALE, bend the elbows, but now twist the right knee to the opposite elbow.
3) EXHALE, push back up to starting position and return leg.
4) REPEAT 2-3x each leg
Modified: Perform this on your knees.
*Notes: Keep your head in line with your spine. The entire body drops towards the floor when you bend your elbows.
This move focuses attacks the whole arm but especially those triceps. I also added a little extra core work in it. Why not kill two birds with one stone right?!
Create a diamond shape with your hands on the floor with thumbs and index fingers touching. Shoulders are directly over wrists. Come into a plank position with legs wider than hips.
1) INHALE, bend the elbows, elbows pointing out to the side. Go as far down as you can.
2) EXHALE, push back up to starting position
3) INHALE, bend your knees towards the floor without moving any other part of your body. Keep
your hips still.
4) EXHALE, extend and straighten through the back of the knee and push the legs straight to
5) REPEAT 5-10x
Modified: Perform this on your knees and disregard steps 3 and 4.
*Notes: For part 3, when you bend your knees towards the floor, pull your navel into your spine in the opposite direction of the knees.
TRICEP AB CRUNCH
This move is great to attack triceps, while stretching out the shoulders after all that previous hard work! It also works the core and challenges overall strength and balance. WARNING, this one is hard!
Begin sitting on the floor, with knees bent and arms directly underneath shoulders. Fingers tips can face forward, or out to the side. Dig into your heels and lift your backside off the floor lifting the hips towards the sky. Lean back into the arms. Extend the right leg, off the floor, and hold.
1) INHALE, bend your elbows, elbows pointing directly behind you, go as low as you can.
2) EXHALE, push yourself back up to starting position.
3) INHALE, bend the right knee and tuck it in towards your forehead. Curl your abdominals and pull
them in tight.
4) EXHALE, extend the leg and return back to starting position.
5) REPEAT 3-5x each leg
Modified: Keep both feet down and avoid part 3, 4 and 5. You can also simply perform tricep dips using a chair or a bench.
Kit Rich is Los Angeles-based fitness trainer with endless exercise and nutritional know-how. Hollywood's hottest stars are addicted to Kit's unique, multi-disciplined approach that combines cardio, yoga, Pilates, and weight training. Kit's clients are immediately taken by her funny and honest approach to health and fitness. She treats her clients as she treats herself, "with a hard challenge, sensibility, sensitively, and a good laugh." Follow Kit on Twitter @kitrichfitness.