Shapely arms can make the outfit. Think of all the cute tank tops you've passed up because you weren't confident that your arms would show off to their best advantage. With a few exercises that use 5-pound weights for 20 minutes at least three times a week, you can tone those guns and put your long-sleeved shirts away. Use a good mix of exercises that work your triceps and biceps, and always watch your form when lifting up and lowering down. Keep in mind that while 5-pound weights are a great way to start a strength-training program, you can take increase the amount of weight you lift when three sets of eight to 10 reps becomes too easy.
Take a 5-pound weight in each hand and stand with your feet hip-width apart and your knees slightly bent. Hold the dumbbells against your thighs, palms facing in. On an exhale, turn your palms out and curl your fingers slightly towards you as you slowly raise the weights toward your shoulders. Inhale, and just as slowly, lower the dumbbells to your sides. Start with eight reps and work your way up to three sets of eight reps over time. Bicep curls such as these can be performed standing or sitting, with both weights at once or one at a time. What doesn't change is how effectively this exercise tones your arm.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and bend forward slightly from your waist while holding a 5lb. weight in each hand for an exercise to tone your triceps. Bend your elbows and hold the weights in front of your chest, palms facing each other. Squeeze your triceps as you straighten your arms slowly behind you. The dumbbells should hover just about level with and behind your buttocks. Slowly return your arms back to the starting position and do seven more reps. Work your way up to three sets of eight reps over time.
Kneel on the floor and rest your forearms on a bench or small table while holding 5lb. weight in each hand. Let your hands dangle freely over the edge of the bench or table. Turn your arms so that your palms are facing each other and bend your elbows to a 90 degree angle. On an inhale rotate your forearms until your palms are facing toward the floor. Exhale and rotate the forearms until your palms face the ceiling. Keep your movements smooth as you angle the weights toward the ceiling and floor on your inhales and exhales respectively. Repeat this sequence until your biceps become fatigued.
Stand with one foot slightly forward of the other for another exercise that will tone your triceps. Wrap both hands around the handle of one 5-pound dumbbell and raise the weight over your head while exhaling. Stop when the dumbbell is over your head and keep your elbows soft. Turns your wrists until your hands are facing forward and while inhaling, keep your upper arms rigid and lower the weight behind your head. Raise the dumbbell on your next inhalation and repeat the maneuver seven more times. Work up to three sets of eight reps as you gain strength.
- MayoClinic.com: Weight Training: Improve Your Muscular Fitness
- The 12-Minute Total-Body Workout; Joyce Vedral
- American Council on Exercise: Dumbbell Wrist Curl
- American Council on Exercise: Standing Dumbbell Overhead Triceps Extension
- In addition to exercises using 5-pound weights, you might want to consider adding movements that use your own body weight to tone your arms.
Linda Kaban is a certified yoga teacher and professional life coach who specializes in helping people achieve their fitness goals. With a bachelor's degree in the humanities, Kaban has been writing since 1998 and has been published in YOGALife magazine along with other healthy living publications.