Summer's here, and suddenly your arms and shoulders are forced out of hiding. If you're like many women, shedding sweaters and turtlenecks might reveal that your arms are not exactly your best feature. Excess flab can cause you to shy away from your favorite summer dresses and tank tops, not to mention bathing suits. But covering up problem areas won't make them disappear. Now is the best time to address arms that jiggle and reveal yourself with confidence this season.
Overlooking the Upper Body
Many women are concerned with larger or more visible areas like thighs or abs, so when they hit the gym, they may focus on everything but the arms and shoulders, she adds.
Women also are less likely than men to become involved in a sport or activity that requires strenuous pushing or punching that would increase the size of arm muscles. "For example, in many high school gym classes, girls were once allowed to perform push ups while on their knees. Sociological factors may be responsible for reducing the amount of stress arm muscles receive over a woman's life,” says Vin Ricciardi, certified personal trainer and owner of Total Body Shoppe in Southold, N.Y.
Untoned arms may be also be age related. "One reason women store fat in the upper arms is hormones. The activity of lipoproteins in the upper body begins to increase slightly in women in their late 30s and early 40s. This results in excess fat beginning to rise from the hips and thighs to the stomach, shoulders and upper arms," says Ricciardi.
Shapely Shoulders and Arms
Don't lose hope. First, increasing your activity level in general, not just doing arm curls, is an important way to combat overall flabbiness and improve the tone of your arms. Nayyar points out that women tend to lose muscle mass every year as they get older.
"If a consistent strength training program is not adopted to maintain and increase muscle tone, the muscles around the arm will lose texture and tone," she says.
Modifying your diet and training your muscles – both through strength training and aerobic activity – means the fuel you take in is not piling up as fat. "A low-fat diet and a regular exercise routine composed of cardiovascular and strength training routines will help you to achieve and maintain a fit and well-toned body," Nayyar adds.
Secondly, when you do begin an exercise routine, Nayyar suggests you train your biceps and triceps together or separately three times a week as part of a full-body workout, decreasing your training to twice a week as you become an "intermediate lifter."
Where are those biceps and triceps? Biceps are the muscles that run along the front of the upper arm from the shoulder to the elbow. They help you flex your elbow. Triceps are the muscles that run along the back of your upper arm from your shoulder to your elbow. They extend your elbow. How can you work them into shape? Try these exercises to get you started:
One-arm Dumbbell Tricep Extension
Push-ups for Shoulders and Arms
Aside from working out in the gym or in your living room, look for ways you can increase your strength doing everyday chores like sweeping, vacuuming or window-washing. "Our daily routines require the use of biceps and tricep muscles to perform jobs like cleaning and lifting. It's a matter of how often and how much you use these muscles that determines the strength and tone of your arms," Nayyar reminds us. She says that making a consistent effort to consciously use these muscles while performing your daily activities can help you achieve lean and strong arms.
Next time you drag your feet at the thought of hanging laundry or scrubbing the floor, remember the benefit your arms – not to mention your home – will reap from the effort.
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About the Author: Amy Carey is a contributing writer for iParenting.com and mother of one toddler, Katie.
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