Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Going Sleeveless: How To Get Toned, Sexy Arms

Spring was in the air this past weekend and New Yorkers like me, Tina, Lisa and Jeremy as well as 8 million more eagerly flung off our winter layers to soak up the fabulous 70 degree temperatures. To rejoice in the warm weather, we headed to our personal back yard -- Central Park -- for a chance to feel grass on our feet again. We enjoyed a mini picnic, complete with two bottles of wine, and a few quick games of rummikub. Afterwards, with the sun still bright, we headed to Rancho for some good and creamy margaritas.

Now that Spring is finally here and summer is right around the corner, I realize I need to turn my attention to toning my arms, shoulders and upper back. I want them to look fabulous when wearing tanks and spaghetti straps. Plus, think how much easier it will be to lift all your shopping bags!

Here are some quick and sure-fire ways of giving you the rights to bare arms that you can do at home or a the gym:

Push-ups are an old-school way, but they definitely work and are extremely effective. The best part about doing push-ups is they require no equipment and you can do them at home or when you are on the road. They also take two minutes and are really effective. Push-ups focus on the back of your arms and your upper back. You can do various sorts of push-ups to make your workout just for you. For instance, you can do a classic push-up. Lie chest-down with your hands at shoulder level, palms flat on the floor and slightly more than shoulder-width apart. Your feet can either be together or hip distance apart, just make sure they are parallel to each other. Keep your eyes forward, don't look down at the floor. Straighten your arms, pushing your body up off the floor making sure you chest hits the floor. Then you want to lower yourself, making sure you keep your head straight to your chin and not your nose reach the ground. You can also do push-ups from your knees or with your legs elevated on a step riser or to give you more of a challenge.

My goal this week is to do 10 solid push-ups each day and build upon this by adding one additional push-up each week. My goal is 30 push-ups because that's what I was up to when I was preparing to take my black belt test.

The classic push-up

If you want to work with hand weights, try lifting weights from a plank position and lift one arm along your sides at a time to do a reverse row lift. For this, I always find it helpful to keep my legs a little bit wider than hip distance to keep a solid base of support. Keep your core lifted and tight, this will keep your stomach muscles engaged and give them a workout as well!

Reverse row lift

You can also do tricep dips. All you will need is a single bench, chair or coffee table to perform this exercise. Place your hands on the edge, keeping your knuckles pointed forward and arms with a slight bent at the elbows. Your feet should be straight out, as far out as possible. Now lower your butt towards the floor, keeping your elbows pressed against your ribs. You want to lower as much as possible, ultimately getting your arms to reach a 90 degree angle. Now, push off yourself back upwards with your arms back to the initial position. Do 10-12 reps of this exercise and three sets.

A lot of people get toned arms through different yoga poses. I don't do a lot of yoga work, but when I do, my arms are killing me by the next day. All yoga poses where your palms are on the floor and are used as the foundation to support your entire body weight can only serve to strength arms, shoulders and upper back. Even the standing postures where your arms are resisting gravity's pull downward can develop your strength.

Thanks to my totally amazing and super fabulous friend Tina for taking these photographs. She was even made a delicious lunch - goat cheese, mushroom and Swiss chard panini.

You want the right to bare arms this Spring too, right? Let's tone up together. Who's with me?


  1. I'm down. I do push-ups everyday, but mostly because I read that doing them also helps the chest area. Nowadays I can use all of the help I can get!

  2. I'm a fan of the reverse row lift. Super excited for spring time..just hope my arms are toned by then!

  3. I'm with you! I've been doing intense push ups since January. Let's hope it works!!

  4. I feel more toned just from watching you exercise!

  5. oh i love these exercises......i have started mine too :)

  6. Great and helpful blog. I'm definately going to do pushups in Florida. I haven't worn sleeveless in years. My goal is to bear arms.
    xoxo Rainie

  7. I'm with you! I'm trying to tone my arms, too. I only hit the gym once a week but I have dumbbells at home. I guess I should start using them! Great exercises, though I'm quite certain that if I attempted the reverse row life I'd collapse onto my face!