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4 Weeks To Toned Arms

photo (9)Welcome to July! Now that it’s summer – most of us want to shift our focus to body parts that are seen more often, like arms! In the summer months, our arms are exposed a lot with endless tank tops, sleeveless dresses and short sleeve t’s. It’s not as easy to camouflage your arms in the heat – so you might as well get them toned! Below is a simple 4-week plan that I’ve put together that is guaranteed to slim and tone your arms in 4 weeks. Don’t forget to work on your diet too – because if you have extra layers of fat on your arms, your arms won’t appear as toned. I use a similar plan to prep for events or photoshoots where I know I’ll be showing my arms (like the pic at left).

Arm Workout

Do this 4-day workout every week for 4 weeks. Start with 30 min of cardio either right before the arm workout or earlier in the day. I prefer intervals vs. steady state cardio, so that your burn more calories. Not sure what to do? Try either my treadmill workout for Fitness Magazine or one of the running workouts I’ve posted like this Tempo Run. On the other days, I would still recommend you do some form of cardio or take a class at your gym. If you are super sore after one of these days – take a day off to recover, or just focus on lower body or cardio that day. After your cardio (so you are warmed up) do the following arm exercises. Aim for 3-4 sets of 12-15 reps on all of these and make sure your weight is heavy enough so that you are tired on that 12th rep!

I prefer to work all of my arm muscles almost every time I workout. However, I don’t do the same exact exercise back to back. If you don’t have access to a gym with some of these machines, just use free weights and do one of the other versions (ie no tricep rope pulldown? Just do overhead extensions).

Toned Triceps Tip: Some trainers say that tricep kickbacks are overrated but they are still one of my favorites and I do mine with a little twist (literally). When you press your hands back and straighten out your arms (from bet elbow position) twist your palms so that they face up and then bend elbows and return back to position. When I do this little twist, I feel my triceps engaging more.

Day 1:

  • Regular Pushups – Do as many as you can on your toes (don’t start on your knees!). Keep hands wider than shoulders and keep your back straight (don’t let hip bones sag towards your mat).
  • Overhead Shoulder Presses – Use 2 free weights and either do this seated or standing. Start with palms facing out and elbows and shoulders at same level. As you exhale, press weight above your head until they almost touch or come together. Lower back to starting position.
  • Tricep Kickbacks – Use 2 free weights. Bend knees and bend forward so that your back is almost parallel to the floor. Wit your palms by your sides and elbows pointed up – slowly press your hands back behind you and extend your arms. At the end of that movement, do a slight twist with your palms so that your palms face up. As you bend your arms back to 90 degrees (starting position) turn palms back in to face each other.
  • Hammer Curls – Use free weights. Start with weights at your side and palms facing in towards legs. Curl hands all the way up and lower back down, while keeping palms faced in whole time. Don’t swing your body or let your elbows come up away from your sides.

Day 2:

  • Chest Press – Use free weights or barbell. If your weights are too light – do chest flyes (rounded arms palms facing in) vs. chest press
  • I-Y-T Shoulders – Use free weights. Palms face in by your sides. Lift arms up to shoulder height and each time change position so that your hands are spread out. “I” is a front raise, “Y” is a wide front raise and the “T” is a lateral raise with arms out to your sides. Each time you raise your arms = 1 rep.
  • Bent Over Rows with Bicep Squeeze – Use free weights or a bar. Bend knees and lean forward so that your back is almost parallel to the floor. Keep back flat and extend arms towards the ground with your hands in a barbell grip position (palms face up). As you row the weights up – bring your elbows behind you and pinch your shoulder blades together and also squeeze biceps. Release and repeat.
  • Overhead Tricep Extension – Use 1 or 2 free weights. Stand tall with knees slightly bent and raise weight over your head with arms straight. Slowly bend your elbows and lower weight to 90 degrees behind head. Pull weight back up to the top and straighten arms.

Day 3

  • Tricep Pushups – Similar to regular pushup but place hands right under shoulders vs. wider than shoulders. You may want to do these on your knees if your triceps aren’t strong enough. Don’t let elbows move away from your sides. Keep them close to your ribcage as you lower your body down (shoulder and elbow parallel) and press yourself back up.
  • Lateral Shoulder Raises with a Twist – Use free weights. Stand tall with palms facing legs. Raise hands out wide as if you are making a “T” with your body. As soon as your hands get to shoulder level, slightly turn your palms down ( thumbs point down) as if you were pouring a cup of coffee. This tiny twist hits the rear delts. Return back to start and repeat.
  • Barbell Bicep Curl – Use a regular barbell or EZ bar. Keep elbows close to your sides and do full-range all the way up and down. Don’t swing your body.
  • Tricep Rope Pulldown – Use this cable attachment at the gym. Keep elbows glued to your sides and pull the cable all the way down to your torso and then with control, let it come back up to 90 degrees (don’t let elbows raise up away from your body).

Day 4

  • Single-Arm Shoulder Press (heavy) – Use 1 heavy free weight. Stand tall with one hand on your hip and weight in other hand (start with shoulder and elbow at same level). Use your legs and core strength to press the weight up overhead and straighten out your arm. Return back to start with elbow level with shoulder and repeat.
  • Single-Arm Bicep Curls (heavy) – Use 1 heavy free weight. You can do this seated or standing. Do this move just as if you were doing a regular curl (I prefer to position my hand out wide) but use a heavier weight. Try to do full range without swinging your body. Keep your elbow glued to your side the whole time.
  • Seated Tricep Dips  – Sit on a bench or step with hands right under glutes and fingers pointing towards your hips. Lower your body off the bench and bend your elbows behind you 90 degrees. Try to let your triceps and back do all the work vs. pushing off with your legs. Keep shoulders rolled back and chest up. Each dip=1 rep.
  • Reverse Flyes  – Use 2 free weights. Get into the same position as bent over rows (above) but instead of rowing your arms up by your sides – you are going to make a circle motion with your arms and bring elbows up and back.

Diet Tips for Toned Arms

You really need to clean up your diet if you want to see muscle definition (in any part of your body). Even if you just make a few simple swaps, that will help. If you aren’t sure exactly what to eat or have any food allergies – please check with your doctor first. These are just suggestions.

  • Lower your fat intake. Don’t eliminate fat – but cut out processed fats and any unnatural fats. Olive oil, coconut oil, avocado and nuts are all good fats that you can have in moderation.
  • Up your protein slightly. Most of us get enough protein already (unless you are vegan) – but adding an extra serving is good when you are focusing on toning muscle and want to see some definition. Just add in an extra whey shake, greek yogurt or serving of eggwhites daily.
  • Eat frequently. Most people say they aren’t hungry in the morning – but that’s because they’ve trained their body to fast longer (from dinner to breakfast or whenever they eat the next morning). That may sound like a good thing – but it’s not. You are just slowing your metabolism. Eat within 30 min of waking up and don’t go longer than 3 hours without fuel after that. Plain and simple. Your last meal can be late if it has to be – just keep it smaller and make one of your afternoon meals bigger.meal

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  • Sarah June 1, 2017  

    Hi Cari! I’ve been using this 4-day workout for about 3 weeks and love it. I do one of the circuits at random 4xs a week when I get back from my runs. I’m already feeling myself get stronger, doing more reps and using heavier dumbbells. Feels great to improve my upper body strength. Thanks for the workout and nutrition tips!

  • Cari Shoemate June 1, 2017  

    That’s awesome Sarah! Thanks for the feedback 🙂 I have a few new workouts currently in magazines that I haven’t posted yet too..if you want to check them out. They are a little more lower-body focused though. One is in Oxygen and one is in the Summer 2017 issue of Muscle and Fitness Hers. But, I’ll try to post some new upper body ones on my blog soon!

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