Joakim says: “Women often complain of poor upper body strength. The only reason for this is that they don’t do enough upper body exercises. Don’t be afraid of lifting weights as women are not genetically predisposed to bulking up and you have to do a lot of work to look like a body builder.
“Just ask any man you know who wants to ‘get big’ how difficult it is for him to gain muscle mass. By moving weights around you will increase your muscle tone. The minor increase in muscle bulk you achieve will actually help to burn calories anyway. You will also get stronger, so it’s a win-win situation.
“The main muscle groups of the arm are the biceps at the front of the upper arm and the triceps at the back of the upper arm. These should be in proportion to each other for good function, so you need to think of bending and straightening the arm against resistance to work them both.”
To train your biceps, stand tall and have your arms hanging down by your side with a weight in each hand. Bend the arm at the elbow and bring the weight up as close to your shoulder as you can without moving the elbow in space. Engage you core muscles for extra stability. You can move your arms together or separately which challenges the oblique abdominals more as you have to compensate for the unbalanced load.
Find a weight that is difficult to lift more than 20 times. If you feel a burn in the muscle for the last few repetitions you know you are challenging the muscle fibres and this will get you quick results. You can repeat this sequence up to 3 or 4 times with a short rest in between, but don’t expect to lift as many times in the last set – your muscles should be getting a little fatigued.
If you do this even just once a week you will notice a difference, but two or three sessions is ideal.
It is important to train the back of the arm equally, and this will give you a sense of achievement as you feel the bingo wings melting away.
You have the best weight machine in your own body for working the triceps. Lifting your body weight is an important skill anyway, so why not practise for normal life?
Sit on a hard bench and shuffle right to the front edge. Put your hands to the side and behind you on the edge of the bench with your fingers hanging over the front. Take your body weight into your hands and walk your feet forwards a little.
You are now ready for the classic Dip exercise. Have your feet as far away from you as you can manage, but use your legs to help your arms. Bend the arms behind you and Dip your backside down in front of the bench. Straighten your arms fully and then repeat up to 20 times again. With practise you will be able to lever just the right amount of bodyweight on to your arms to give you the bingo wing burn.
Shoulders are often an overlooked area, and as a Pilates Instructor I am particularly interested in people using their shoulders correctly. Working the shoulders not only helps to improve shoulder stability and therefore posture, but are also a short cut to good looking arms because the deltoid muscle group actually drapes over the shoulder and down onto the outside of the upper arm. Good shoulders make your arms look great!
My favourite one off shoulder exercise is done in a forward leaning position. You can either lie down on an angled weights bench or stand with your feet wide, bum out backwards and your upper body slightly bent forwards. It is important to support the lower spine by pulling tummy muscles in and aiming to keep a ‘neutral’ spine.
Hold the weights directly below your shoulders and slowly and under control swing the arms up and out to the sides as if you were a swan opening its wings. Keep a slight bend in the elbows and keep your head comfortably up, but don’t strain your neck. Return the weights slower than on the way up, and then repeat up to 20 times
We might not live in the Mediterranean, but the sun still has a damaging effect on our skin, even in the UK. Our arms and face are the parts of our body most exposed to harmful UV rays and while many of us already moisturise and protect our face, most people don’t think about their arms.
All you have to do is look at any Scottish farmer with his sleeves rolled up to the shoulder. The skin looks 20 years younger above the tan line.
Protect your skin; it is in fact the largest organ in your body. Use a moisturiser with a high sun factor and your skin will stay smooth and less blemished. After all, you want smooth skin to be draped over your new slender arm muscles…
After all this hard work on your arms you need to fuel your body sensibly. Rather than trying every diet under the sun, make an effort to eat foods which will aid your quest for optimal health. Food is a whole other article, but it must always be considered when asking the question ‘how can I improve my arms?’
Cutting down on fat is probably the easiest way to create a calorie deficit which will aid weight loss. Look at your portion sizes as well. A small reduction of the portions of food at each meal will add up to a lot by the end of the week. Don’t starve yourself, and snack on fruit and nuts.
An apple in your hand makes your biceps look great as you crunch away, showing off your amazingly graceful arm!