I’ve received multiple reader requests regarding the subject of arm strength and definition, so today’s post is going to tackle just that.
[Just’s a heads up, if you’re struggling with anything regarding body image, this may be a post to skip. What we read can affect our body and minds, so if you don’t think it would be a smart choice to read about arm tips/strengtheners, this is one to skip. Sending love to those you who are experiencing or recovering from any type of eating disorder or body image-related illness.)
Reader Questions About Arms
“What’s the best way to increase arm strength and definition?”
“How can I get ‘tank top arms?'”
“How to you make your shoulders look chiseled?”
“I want to perk my chest up a little.”
Here’s a post with all of my arm and upper body-related tips:
(I’m pretty sure it’s impossible to flex without making a goober face)
As always, talk with a doc before making any fitness changes. Honor your body and modify according to your unique needs and preferences.
6 Tips to Increase Arm Strength and Definition
1) Lift heavy things. Do not be afraid to up the weights, especially if you can comfortably complete more than 15 repetitions in one set. By the last few reps, you should have to CONVINCE yourself to finish. (At the same time, you should be able to finish with proper form.) Think about some exercises where you can increase the weights or if you’ve become complacent and can add a little challenge.
While you’re lifting heavy things, be sure that you’re also changing the types of weights that you’re lifting. Vary between the scary cable machine, dumbbells, kettlebells and barbells. In general, I don’t recommend strength training machines unless you’re really looking to increase your weight and want to be guided through the range of motion. To my beginner friends: strength machines are a great starting point! Once you feel comfortable with the basic movement, meet with a trainer to help you learn the moves using dumbbells or resistance bands instead. This way, you’ll be standing for the exercises (which means you’re burning more calories!) and will also recruit your core muscles to help stabilize you. You get more bang for your buck if you do the exercises with your body weight or in a standing position.
2) Add one more set. This is a great way to fully fatigue muscles, and for the last couple of months just to switch things up, I’ve been doing 4 sets instead of 3 for many of my usual exercises.
Some magic numbers, depending on your fitness goals:
Strength endurance and stabilization: 12-20 reps per set at less intensity
Hypertrophy: 6-12 reps per set at moderate intensity
Maximal strength: 1-5 reps at maximum intensity
I’d say in general, the average gym-going Jane is going to have a goal of hypertrophy (building lean muscle). I like 3-4 sets of 10-12 challenging reps per set.
3) Pull-ups, pushups and dips are your friends. These are my top three arm exercises, because between the three of them, you’ll be working almost every muscle in your upper body. If you’re looking to add new exercises to your routine, these are effective and challenging ones to add, and there’s always a way to increase stressors and change things up.
An arm shredding superset:
(Warm up and then alternate between the two exercises until you reach 3-4 sets of each. Then, move onto the next two exercises.)
4) Incorporate interval training. You need to burn fat in order to see the muscle you’ve created, and clean eats in conjunction with a solid cardio routine are the sweet ticket to lean and defined physique. Aim for a balance of proteins, produce, healthy fats and smart carbs, and be sure to alternate cardio intensities throughout the week. (New to HIIT? This is a thorough post to check out.)
5) REST. Do not work the same muscles on consecutive days, and change up your routine depending on past workouts and how you’re feeling. if your body is telling you that it needs a break, it’s up to us to listen! Make sure to plan at least once full day of rest each week.
6) For goodness sake, EAT. You cannot build lean muscle if you’re depleted. Make sure that you’re getting enough fuel for your activity level, plus some extra if you’re looking to increase muscle mass.
Other random arm/upper body tips:
-Carry your baby or toddler around all the days (bonus points if they’re particularly squirmy but still want to be held) 😉 No kiddo? A large jug of water works nicely.
-Get a pull-up bar. Each time you walk by, do 3 pull-ups. (If you can’t do a full pull-up yet, place a sturdy chair underneath the bar and use one or both legs to partially support your weight and assist you.)
-Assess your pre and post-workout nutrition. I love a protein-packed smoothie after a great strength workout! Here are some tips for making a meal out of your smoothie.
What’s your favorite arm or upper body exercise??
Hope you have a great day!
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