There was a time when I would only hear my male clients talk about how they wanted fit, chiseled arms. Nowadays, almost all of my female clients are adamant about having strong, sculpted arms, and that’s thanks, in part, to the über-fit actresses dominating the movie screens of the ’90s and early 2000s.
The incredible arms of Hilary Swank in Million Dollar Baby, Halle Berry in Catwoman, Demi Moore in G.I. Jane, Resident Evil‘s Milla Jovovich, and Angelina Jolie in Tomb Raider, all inspired women to lose the sleeves and focus on making their arms as amazing as the rest of their bodies.
There are two main muscle groups in the arms: The biceps, which are located on the front of the upper arms; and the triceps, which are on the back of the upper arms. The main function of the biceps is to bend the elbow, while the triceps straighten the arm at the elbow.
Most people make the mistake of over-training the biceps, and under-training the triceps. In fact, even if we train the two muscles equally, the biceps will continue to get worked whenever you train your rhomboids (any rowing exercises) or lats (pull-down movements).
As a result, you can end up with gorilla-like posture – think Ronnie from Jersey Shore – even if you’re not as muscle-bound as he is.
In order to avoid this fate, I make sure my clients do an extra set of tricep exercises each time they train their arm muscles.
Ladies, don’t be afraid of getting big, bulky arm muscles from resistance exercise. As long as you’re not overeating, over-training or taking anabolic steroids, your arms will only get stronger, more toned and defined.
Here are three great arm exercises to try at home. Do three sets of 20 reps of each exercise, twice a week.
Overhead triceps extension
Sit on a bench or chair with back straight, feet planted. Grasp a single dumbbell with both hands. Raise it above your head. Bend your elbows, slowly lowering the weight until your elbows form a 90-degree angle. Straighten your arms to raise the weight and complete one rep.
Triceps press up
Lie on your stomach on the floor or a mat with your hands on the ground beside your chest. Keeping your elbows tight against your ribcage, press up into a cobra-like position using your triceps. Return to original position and repeat.
Alternating hammer curls
Start with your feet a hip-width apart, a dumbbell in each hand, and palms facing in. Curl your left dumbbell up to your shoulder while keeping your right arm straight. Slowly lower left dumbbell while raising the right to the shoulder. That’s one rep. Make sure both arms are always moving.
Do you love or hate your arms? Tweet me @harleypasternak.