There's nothing like being able to wear any top you like and not having to worry about hiding your arms or your belly. Because women tend to store fat in their arms and abs, you appreciate exercises that will tone these spots, yet are simple and efficient. Although you won't be able to spot reduce, combining arm/ab exercises with a well-rounded fitness and nutrition plan will have you showing off your muscle tone in no time.
Using Body Weight
There's nothing simpler then using your living room furniture to tone your stomach and arms. A sturdy coffee table makes a great bench for triceps dips; extending your legs out and resting your feet on the couch can increase difficulty and work your core. Try holding full planks for 30 seconds to one minute on the floor, keeping your arms straight to activate your triceps. Roll into side planks to target one tricep at a time as you extend the opposite arm straight up. Or try rotating the extended arm under the ribs and back up eight to 10 times to train the obliques.
Fitness Ball Planks
Take your planks one step further with a fitness ball. Put your feet on the ball and roll it under your hips with bent knees to tone your arms and abs at the same time. For an extra challenge, try keeping your legs straight and piking your legs up and down eight to 10 times. Reverse the exercise by placing your palms on the ball with straight arms for planks. Again, try rolling the ball in and out 10 times, this time using your triceps to do the work.
By holding weights or tubing in the right position, you can tone your arms during your abdominal workout. Add close-grip bar presses or straight-arm pullovers to crunches, keeping your elbows turned in. To advance your planks, go for one-arm planks by taking your feet to a wider stance and holding a weight out in front of you. Try triceps kickbacks and straight-arm lifts on your hands and knees. Extend the opposite leg and arm to engage the core and challenge balance.
Yoga and Pilates
Both yoga and Pilates call on the smaller accessory muscles of the triceps and abdominals for stability and balance. You will find loads of planks, triceps presses, abdominal curls and arm balances in both systems. Look for beginner classes if you are new to yoga or Pilates, or seek out a trained instructor to teach you proper alignment.
Vicki Vara has been a fitness professional for more than 15 years, working in health clubs, studios and schools. She is certified as a personal trainer, group fitness instructor, holistic nutrition consultant and Pilates instructor. Vara holds a bachelor's degree in exercise science from the University of Delaware.