Co-authored with Meredith Steyer
Warmer weather is approaching and there’s still time to “arm yourself” in preparation of the inevitable approach of sleeveless shirt season. While there’s a lot to love about summertime, if you’re self-conscious about your upper arms, it may not be your favorite time of year. With a little bit of preparation and perspiration, your arms don’t have to be a trouble spot this year! Apart from the aesthetics of some arm definition, upper body strength is vital to our everyday life. You use your arms to carry everything from groceries to children and I asked Meredith Steyer, NASM Certified Personal Trainer and owner of Advancing Fitness, to help create a quick and effective workout that will have us saying “bye-bye bingo wings” in no time!
Steyer explains that incorporating multi-joint movements into your workout routines is the key to really ramp up your results. She put together an arm-centric workout that you can do in its entirety, break up into separate segments or add a segment as a finisher to your other workout routines. As with every weightlifting workout, Steyer advises that while the weight you choose should be challenging, if you cannot maintain control and proper positioning throughout the range of motion, be sure to lower your weight!
Cable Straight Arm Pushdown: Perform 12-15 repetitions for 2-3 sets
Use a straight bar or rope and set up on the top notch of the cable pulley. Grab the bar/rope and pull the weight down to chin height as this will be your starting point. Stand with your feet about hip width apart and knees slightly bent. Tighten your abs and keep your chest lifted and as you exhale, keep a slight bend in your elbow and pull the bar down towards your thighs. Slowly bring the bar back to the starting position.
Pro tip: Be sure your shoulders do not raise as your arms return to the starting position, avoid letting momentum takeover and focus on your lats and triceps being the controlling force that is moving the bar down towards your thighs.
Cable Tricep Pushdown: Perform 12-15 repetitions for 2-3 sets
Use the same set up as you did for the Cable Straight Arm Pushdown above. Grasp the bar with an overhand/palms down grip. Keep your elbows at a 90 degree bend right by your sides. Stand with your feet about hip width apart and with knees slightly bent. Tighten your abs and keep your chest lifted. Keeping your elbows touching your side push the bar down towards your thighs and focus on squeezing your triceps at the bottom of the movement and then return to the starting position.
Pro tip: Avoid letting your arms drift out of position, by imagining that you’re trying to hold an envelope against your body with your elbows.
Dumbbell Shoulder Press: Perform 12-15 repetitions for 2-3 sets
Start by holding a pair of dumbbells by your shoulders, palms forward, and elbows should be bent at 90 degrees. Stand with your feet about hip width apart and knees slightly bent. Tighten your abs and keep your chest lifted. Press the weights straight above your head while being careful not to arch your back.
Pro tip: Focus on keeping your body firmly rooted to the ground while you control the movement of the weights and return them back to the starting position.
Dumbbell Side Arm Raise: Perform 12-15 repetitions for 2-3 sets
Begin by holding a pair of dumbbells straight down by your sides with your palms facing inward towards your body. Stand with your feet about hip width apart and knees slightly bent. Tighten your abs and keep your chest lifted. Raise your straight arms upwards until your palms face the floor. As you raise your arms to shoulder height imagine your arms are being pulled up by a string attached to your elbows and then return your hands to the starting position.
Pro tip: Be sure to keep your elbows soft, not bent, but not in a locked position as you avoid momentum and are in control of the movement the weights in both directions!
Dumbbell Front Raise: Perform 12-15 repetitions for 2-3 sets
Grab a dumbbell in each hand gently resting on your thighs with your palms facing towards your body. Stand with your feet about hip width apart and knees slightly bent. Tighten your abs and keep your chest lifted. Raise the dumbbells upward until the weights are at shoulder level and then slowly lower the weights back to the starting position.
Pro tip: Avoid letting the weights rest on your thighs and avoid locking out your elbows.
Underhand Grip Inverted Row: Perform 12-15 repetitions for 2-3 sets
Set up the Smith Machine bar at chest height. Hold the bar with your hands shoulder width apart using an underhand/palms up grip. Press your chest against the bar and walk your feet forward then lower yourself until you are hanging under the bar. With your heels digging into the ground and your arms fully extended, pull your abs in tight and squeeze your glutes. Start to pull your chest towards the bar by squeezing your shoulder blades together first, then pulling with your arms to finish the movement. Once your chest touches the bar, slowly lower your body to its starting position.
Pro tip: Concentrate on maintaining your body in a straight as a board-like position while focusing on your elbows really driving straight behind you on the upwards portion of the move.