“Give me those Michelle Obama arms” is one of the most common requests that we get and deliver on at my training studio. Even though we have a proven track record on toning up those arms, new members are still skeptical of the advice we give because it is so different that what they’ve been led to believe.
The biggest myth in creating a pair of awesome arms is that you need to do “arm” exercises to tone up. The truth is that you don’t need to do anything at all to isolate your arms, and that time invested in those exercises is time that could’ve been spent doing things that actually work.
In descending order of priority, here are the keys to being proud to rock a tank top by the end of the summer:
#1. Eat Better: flab is body fat, if we are going to reveal the muscle tone that is hiding underneath it all, then we’re going to have to eat better. Body fat is like a bath tub full of water – when you scoop out a cup of water from a tub you do not end up with a cup shaped hole in the middle of the tub, you end up with an overall (systemic) reduction in the water. This is your body-fat – you may notice (and hate) the fat on your arms, but it’s going to be losing fat overall that will be essential to having amazing arms.
The most important things to pay attention to nutrition-wise are flour and sugar. Eat less of them, and replace them with protein, veggies and some fruit. They have no nutritional value and they make you hungry, tired and fat. This is sugar in all of it’s names – honey, high fructose corn syrup, agave nectar, juice, etc.
#2. Total body strength training: When it comes to tone, as the whole body goes the arms go. The most time efficient way to sculpt your arms is to choose exercises that hit most of your body. One of the best exercises for toning up everything is the deadlift. After you deadlift (which is a total body pull), this would be a great time to do some sort of pushing exercise – like a push up.
Repeat that for 2-4 sets of 10 reps each.
For your next pair, a Bulgarian split squat and an inverted row will make a great combination to hit everything on your body – including your arms.
Bulgarian split squat video:
Push up video
I’d also start your workout with this core workout right here.
Get this done at least 2 days per week, 3 is even better, but 6 is too many.
Remember this is strength training, so the loads need to be challenging. In general, women need to go heavier (and challenge themselves) and
If you’re worried if strength training will make you bulky, take a look at this video to see what really happens:
#3. Add some high intensity interval training. High intensity interval training is the perfect compliment to your strength training to maximize your fat-loss (your arm and total body toning). It takes less time than traditional “cardio”, it works better, it gets you in better shape, it’s less boring, and it is safer. The only drawback would be that it sure is harder to do a legitimate interval workout than it is to watch TV while you walk on a treadmill at the gym. Here’s a great interval training workout you can get done in 30 minutes or less.
Get this done at least 2 days per week, and 3 might be better, but if you are doing #2 above 3 days a week I’d stay with 2 days here.
#4. Pay attention to your recovery. You only make progress between workouts, so maximizing this is key to results. Here’s a whole article on that.
Don’t just read this article, put this into practice and give yourself the arms you want.