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Exercising can be hard to schedule into your day. You generally burn more calories if you are running around after your children, going shopping, cleaning the house etc. but burning calories does not necessarily tone the muscles you want to tone.
During the summer, everyone wants to look great so they can get into the bikini – but if you have no beach holidays planned, you may still want to wear that sleeveless dress in your wardrobe or vest tops to keep your temperature down. Many of us will have the same worries when revealing our arms in public – do we have ‘bingo wings? Are they slim enough? Do my arms look flabby and un-toned?
There are some simple exercises you can do at home to tone up your arms. If you carry weight on your arms, calorie burning exercise should also be carried out to shed the fat, but to tone and strengthen, these exercises will help bring definition to your arms.
- Bicep Curls – using hand weights or something easy to hold (baked beans cans or other cans can be good for this) do alternating arms or lift the weights at the same time. For best results make sure your hands do not drop lower than your elbows so your arm moves from right-angles to your body up towards your shoulder blades. Slow controlled movements are best, so don’t worry about the speed. Three sets of 20 repetitions would be great – but reduce the number to begin with if this is difficult.
- Tricep Dips – finding a bench, solid chair or edge of the bed is best for this one. With your back to the hard surface place your hands on the surface, making sure your fingers are pointing in the same direction you are. Start with your knees slightly bent and your feet or heels on the floor – then with you arms supporting your upper body, lower yourself until your upper arm is level with your shoulder then slowly push up so your arms are fully extended. Again, three sets of twenty repetitions in each set would be a reasonable amount, but reduce this to start off with if you are struggling. If you want to ensure you are in the correct position, start sat on the bench/chair/stool, put your hands in position either side of your hip, then take a step forward so your bottom is just off the surface and your back is straight.
- Press Ups – some people can be put off by press ups, but if you find it impossible to do a normal press-up then put your knees together, cross your ankles and have your knees touching the ground. Eventually, when you strengthen your arms, you may start to do full press ups. With press ups it is important to have your hands level with your shoulders and not out too wide. Keep your elbows at a 45 degree angle to your body so they are tucked in a little. Imagine there is a straight line running from your shoulders to your ankles. Also, make sure you tuck your chin in so you are leading chest-first not head first and so your head stays in line with the rest of you.
- Crazy-Frog – This is an exercise which can be really fun to perform on a trampoline. If you don’t have a trampoline, you can do it anywhere you like. Find some space, and preferably a surface that will not hurt your hands as they will be going on the floor for part of this. Start by jumping in the air (this where the trampoline makes this move more fun as you will go higher!) Then, crouch down putting your hands either side of you and push your legs back behind you (similar to a press-up position) then tuck your knees back under your chest, and spring up from this position into the jump again. Not only will this exercise your arms, it is a good cardio-based exercise and can be hard work. If you are going to do this on a trampoline, after the jump you will have to use your legs to absorb the energy from the moving bed (otherwise you will continue to bounce!!) This can be a lot of fun.
- High Press – Sitting with your back straight and weights/baked bean cans/paper weights in hand, hold the weights above your head so your arms are straight (try not to lock your elbows out) and slowly bring your arms down at 90 degree angles. Try to do 15-20 repetitions then repeat.
With any of these exercises, it is important to remember to stop if you feel any pain or discomfort – it is your body telling you to be careful. If it is general fatigue, it is good to push yourself that little bit further each time so you are making small improvements. Don’t go mad as you could cause yourself an injury.
Written by Abbi Stewart – fitness expert at Big Game Hunters Trampoline shop, providing fitness through outdoor play equipment and trampolining.