Tank Tops Are Coming! (a.k.a. Arm-Toning Exercises for Beginners)

My cousin Julia tweeted me (@StrongFitSarah) earlier with questions about some good exercises to tone up your arms, and I got to thinking … with summer just around the corner, surely this is something everyone could use! That said, here are a few ideas (with descriptions and pictures pulled from Women’s Health) – all of which I do myself –  to help get you in tank top shape before Memorial Day. As I always tell my Pilates classes … you may not like me today, you probably won’t like me tomorrow, but stick with it, and you’ll love me in about six weeks!

Here are a few basic ideas you can add into your routine to help do away with some of that jiggle:

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Triceps Dip

Sit on the edge of a bench or chair with your knees bent and your feet on the floor in front of you. Place your palms facedown next to your thighs and, keeping your arms straight, scoot forward until your hips and butt are in front of the seat (a). Bend your elbows to lower your hips until your upper arms are parallel to the floor (b). Push back to start. That’s one rep. Do as many reps as possible until you have to pause or can’t maintain form. (Can also be done with straight legs)

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Triceps Kickback with Rotation

Stand with your knees bent and lean forward slightly, with a dumbbell in each hand. Bend your right elbow to bring the dumbbell to your side, making your upper arm parallel with the floor. Press the dumbbell back, and as you straighten your arm, rotate it so that your palm faces the ceiling. Rotate it back so that your palm faces in, and return your arm to the bent position. Do 12 to 15 reps with each arm.

 

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Tricep Pushdown

Attach a straight bar to the high pulley of a cable station and grab the bar with an overhand grip, hands shoulder-width apart. Tuck your upper arms next to your sides and bend your elbows more than 90 degrees. Without moving your upper arms, push the bar down until your arms are straight. Pause, then return to the starting position.

 

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Hammer Curl

Grab a pair of dumbbells and hold them next to your thighs, palms facing each other. Raise the dumbbell in your left hand as high as you can in front of you by bending your elbow and curling the weight toward your shoulder. As you lower the dumbbell, curl the weight in your right hand.

 

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Bicep Curl (Dumbells)

Grab weight in left hand. Curl weight to left shoulder, then lower. Do reps on each side, then more with both hands holding object. To add intensity, stand on one foot during single-arm curls.

 

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Bicep Curl (Barbell)

Stand while holding a barbell in front of you, palms facing out, with your hands shoulder-width apart and your arms hanging in front of you (A). Curl the weight toward your shoulders (B). Hold for a second, then return to start.

 Remember, these should be challenging … STEP AWAY FROM THE 5 LB. WEIGHTS. Seriously, these are pretty basic-level exercises, so you want to make sure you are challenged. If you get through 12 reps and you feel like you could keep going, you’re too light. Perhaps most importantly, make sure to maintain control of the weights and your body positioning at all time. I’m a sucker for good form – you’ll save yourself from injuries and see greater gains the more in control and in tune with your body you can stay.

Want even faster results? Time to bump up your cardio and take a good look at your diet. The cleaner you eat and the harder you push, the greater results you’ll see throughout your entire body, not just your arms. Good luck and bring on summer!

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