The long awaited beach weather is upon us! Our free time can now be spent basking in the sun next to a sparkling pool or watching the waves lap against the shore.

We’ve made it to summertime, and what better time than now to show off your gorgeous body that you have been working so hard for?  If you feel like your arms may be lacking, fear not, I have some great arm exercises that will tone and strengthen your arms.

Exercise One: Planks

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There are very few exercises that I love more than planks.  You can do them anywhere and no equipment is needed.  It is a great isometric exercise, which means, the there is no change in the joint angle or muscle length during the muscle contraction.

There are a few variations, the first being the plank on your elbows. This is the beginner version, as you will still get some arm toning, but will also place a great emphasis on toning your core. The second variation is the plank on your hands. This you see in yoga classes, as you go through your vinyasa and/or sun salutation.

And lastly, the elbow to hand plank transition. Start on your elbows and then push up onto your hands; as if you were going to do a pushup-then go back down to your elbows and repeat. For extra FUN, you can always add in a pushup. For added inspiration, you can check out the “planksgiving,” challenge. http://shrinkingjeans.net/2013/10/planksgiving/?printthis=1&printsect=1

Exercise Two: Lateral raise to front raise

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This exercise can be done with dumbbells or bands, and will humble you in a heartbeat. This baby burns. Make sure you don’t go over 90 degrees or past shoulder height. Shoot for 3 sets of 8-10 reps.

Exercise Three: The push-up

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In my opinion, if there were only two exercises that you would ever do for your arms, it would be the pushup and the pull-up, which we will visit next.  The pushup… how do I love thee? Let me count the ways.  You can do the pushup anywhere and you don’t need a lot of space.  The pushup can be modified for all different levels of expertise.

Beginners, the ever so growing geriatric population or people with disabilities, could start out dong them standing, against the wall.  As with all variations of pushups, make sure you lead with your chest, and not your head.  Push your body away from the wall or ground while keeping your core tight.

Use proper care to make sure your elbows and wrists are aligned up under your shoulders. This will help you to avoid shoulder issues in the future.  If the wall is too easy, take it to the floor and either do a full on pushup, or do them on your knees.

In addition, you can also do pushups with your legs or toes (if you want more of a challenge), on a stability ball.  This will take the pressure off your knees, if you are not quite ready to do the standard pushup. Do 3 sets until muscle failure, or until form starts to waver.

Exercise Four: The pull-up

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These must be included in any routine when trying to sculpt beautiful arms. Our ultimate goal is to be able to do these unassisted, but when starting out, you can use the assisted pull up machine or a band to help assist you with this exercise.

The pull-up is a gruelling exercise that will tone and strengthen your arms, shoulders and back.  When your shoulders and back are strong and toned, they make your arms look even better.

Exercise Five: The bicep curl

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Now who doesn’t love to train their biceps? I suggest including dumbbell curls, barbell curls and preacher curls into your arm toning workout. No equipment, no problem.

Using an exercise band is a great way to train your biceps.  Vary up your workouts, sometimes working the high rep, low weight range and then reverse it the next time.

I guarantee that if you add these moves into your current workout plan 2-3 days a week, you will have the most beautiful toned arms out there.  A few other tidbits to keep in mind; keep your belly button to your spine and core tight when doing all exercises. This will protect your back and works in your favour as a little ab workout bonus.

Don’t forget to breathe.  Inhale during the concentric phase, or shortening of the muscle, and exhale during the eccentric phase, or the lengthening of the muscle. Third and final tidbit, mind your posture. Don’t allow your shoulders to round or your back to arch.

Happy arm toning and sculpting.

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