Tank top season reveals what winter sweaters have hidden: flabby arms. These arm and shoulder exercises will have you baring arms!
It’s time to get out our summer clothes in preparation for warm weather. But if you find yourself cringing as you unpack your tank tops, tackle the grim reality of flabby arms while there’s still time to tone up for summer.
Flabby triceps—also known as bat wings, tata arms, jelloceps, or underguns—seem to be inevitable as we get older. US First Lady Michelle Obama has become the poster girl for well-sculpted arms, and with a little work, we can tone our jiggling triceps and show off our well-toned arms too.
A call to arms
Our arms allow us to carry kids and groceries, swing a golf club or tennis racket, propel us as we walk and run, and perform a whole slew of motions and activities every day. Our biceps allow us to bend our arms, while our triceps (those flabby things on the undersides of our arms we just discussed) allow us to extend our elbow joints. Together, they work in perfect harmony.
Shoulder the load
Shoulders allow the arms to have a wide range of motion, including the ability to lift and pull objects. Our shoulders are a complex design of bones, joints, muscles, and nerves that can be susceptible to injury if we don’t use proper technique when exercising. The instability of the shoulder joint makes it vulnerable to a variety of problems, including strains, dislocations, bursitis, and torn rotator cuffs.
Strengthening our arms and shoulders is a practical way to prevent injury, as well as a great way to up our sexiness quotient this summer.
Personal trainer Brendan Rolfe has put together six exercises to shape up the arms and shoulders. All that’s needed are a resistance band, dumbbells, and a chair. If you’re new to exercise, start with 2 lb weights, then progress to heavier weights as your strength increases. Get with the program
Perform 2 sets of the following exercises. At maximal resistance, perform 8 to 12 reps for strength and hypertrophy (to increase muscle size), and 13 to 15 reps for endurance.
Pronated Reverse High-Fly
Muscles worked: rear deltoids
Loop the middle of your resistance band around a secure anchor in front of you, just slightly higher than your head, and stand facing the band, grasping a handle in each hand.
With a slight bend in your knees and tall posture with your upper body, adjust your position until the tension is taught and your arms are stretched out straight in front of you.
Turn your hands so your thumbs point down and keep your palms facing outward as you pull the handles to the sides of your ears, just above your shoulders, keeping your elbows pointing outward, in line with your shoulders.
Take special care to push your shoulder blades down as you pull in.
With control, return your hands to starting position.
Bent Arm Dumbbell Lateral Raise
Muscles worked: medial deltoids
Stand with one dumbbell in each hand, knees slightly bent, feet hip width apart, straight upper body posture, and arms hanging loosely at your sides with palms turned in.
Without any upper or lower body movement, begin to raise your arms out to the sides.
As you raise your arms, bend your elbows to reach a 90-degree angle once you get to shoulder height.
After a brief pause, lower the weights back to starting position, allowing arms to once again straighten out and relax.
Be sure not to let your trapezius (side neck) muscles rise up toward your ears as you lift your arms.
Resistance Band Kickbacks
Muscles worked: triceps
Loop the middle of your resistance band around a secure anchor at floor level.
While facing the band, grasp a handle in each hand.
Bend your knees, push your hips back, and flatten your back out, keeping the weight in your heels (like a downhill skier).
With palms facing the floor and elbows pressed firmly into your sides, extend your arms straight back, finishing with your palms facing the ceiling.
With control, return your hands to starting position and repeat.
Muscles worked: triceps
Find a stair, chair, or stable bench.
Sit on the very edge of the chair with your palms down on the chair at the sides of your hips.
Begin with your knees at a 90-degree angle and, with your arms straight, slide your backside off the edge of the chair so it’s suspended in the air.
Slowly lower your bum toward the ground until your elbows come to a 90-degree bend (be careful to keep your back straight and your posture tall).
After a brief pause, extend your arms until they’re straight and you’re back in the suspended position.
Be mindful not to allow your trapezius muscles to rise toward your ears throughout the exercise.
The farther your feet are from the chair, the harder the exercise is.
Muscles worked: biceps and forearms
Stand with tall posture, feet hip width apart, and arms at your sides with a dumbbell in each hand.
With palms facing forward and elbows remaining at your sides, raise your hands forward and upward until your elbows come to 90 degrees.
Keeping the 90-degree bend, rotate your wrists inward, turning your palms to face the floor.
When palms are completely facing down, lower your hands to your sides.
Rotate your palms to once again face forward.
Be sure to keep your elbows at your sides throughout the entire exercise and your neck muscles pressed down.
Resistance Band Sprinter’s Curl
Muscles worked: biceps
Loop the middle of the resistance band around a secure anchor at floor height.
Facing away from the band, grasp a handle in each hand and get into a lunge position (one leg forward and bent, the other leg back and straight).
With tall posture and a flat back, allow the tension in the bands to pull your arms back and straight with palms facing forward.
Without moving your elbows, curl your arms forward and upward until fists come within 4 in (10 cm) of your shoulders.
Carefully, return your arms to straightened starting position.
Use your other leg to step forward into the lunge during the second set to work on balance.
Ellen Niemer and Brendan Rolfe
Ellen Niemer is an editor and creative services liaison at alive. Shes working on turning her jelloceps into well-toned muscle. Brendan Rolfe, PTS, NWS, is an elite personal trainer and nutrition and wellness specialist with RAWE Health Solutions.