We usually think of summer when wearing our bathing suits and tank tops, but the holidays are approaching, and we will be getting dressed in our holiday formal wear, which often means baring our arms as well. It’s also fall wedding season. We all want to look our best regardless of the time of year, and it’s true there is no “season” for getting into shape. We must maintain a healthy and fit lifestyle all year long if we want to see results.
That said, we have a few months to get those arms looking fit and sculpted — and that’s more than enough time. If you follow these exercises on a regular basis, you’re sure to go into the holiday season sporting that beautiful dress or attractive top you plan on wearing.
The area of the body that most people see is the shoulders. The good part about sculpting fit shoulders is that you don’t need heavy weights, a gym or any fancy equipment.
If you have dumbbells in the house or go to a gym, fantastic. But if you don’t — grab water bottles, or anything with a bit of weight that you can hold in your hands.
Some of my favorite shoulder exercises are:
- Side lateral raises. Start with weights in front of your thighs and lift out to the side. Do not lift the weights past your shoulders; the weights should be in your peripheral vision, in a V shape — not hyper-extended out to the side.
- Front raises. Take the weights and extend them to the front. Again, don’t lift higher than shoulder height. Elbows should not be locked, but keep arms straight. Legs should be a few inches apart for stability.
- Seated shoulder presses. Sit on a back-supported chair and press the weights above your head. Palms should be facing out. This is great for your core, too, as sitting engages it a bit more.
- Train those triceps. Triceps are those “bat wings” that most women love to hate; while many people focus on the biceps, the triceps are a much larger muscle. So if we can begin to grow the triceps, your arms will take on a much more toned shape, as they’re located on the outside of the arm.
Tricep exercises include:
- Overhead extension. Place dumbbell directly over your head, holding with both hands. Bend just the top portion of your arm (elbow to wrist) back. This is a very isolated move; your back should not move in any way.
- Tricep kickbacks. Get into a lunge position and lean forward, holding onto something if you must. Your chest should be leaning forward, and you will start with holding your arm straight with dumbbell in hand. Bend the top part of your arm (elbow to wrist) in and squeeze the tricep when extending out.
Your back is always important to train and build muscle on. The goal is to widen your back so that you create the illusion of a smaller waist. While we don’t get to see our own backs very often, it is extremely flattering to have a sculpted, toned back.
All sorts of rowing exercises are excellent for building muscle in your back.
Because our back has much larger muscles than our shoulders and triceps, we are able to push a bit heavier weight. Don’t be afraid to test your strength! You are much stronger than you think.
Back exercises include:
- Arm Row 1. Place a leg up, knee on bench (or ottoman or chair at home), leaning forward, row with the dumbbell in the opposite hand. You never want to be leaning over; chest should be pointed out and butt should be out. Good form is very important.
- Arm Row 2. Bend your knees, push chest out and butt back, and row with both arms simultaneously. Arms should come down all the way and back up to a rowing motion. Do not round back or bend over.
- Renegade Row. Get into a push-up position, with hands holding dumbbells, and row. This is great core work as well, while building muscles in your back.
Perform three to five sets of 10-15 reps for all of these. It’s important to always add progression to your workouts. So if you can only do three sets of 10 reps the first time, aim for 11 reps the second time. When you reach 12 reps, it’s time to move on to four sets! We must always push our muscles out of their comfort zones.
Remember, muscles grow when they are fed and rested. So be sure to include a healthy, nutritious diet into your lifestyle so you can reap all the benefits.
All of these exercises can be done at home, at your own leisure and convenience. If you perform all of them, it should only take about 30 minutes and they’re all very effective. With proper nutrition, you should have gorgeous, sculpted arms just in time to show off that beautiful holiday dress.
Sloane Davis is a certified nutritionist and personal trainer based in Westchester County, New York. She’s helped thousands of people get in top shape both mentally and physically. Her website is pancakesandpush-ups.com.