There's no denying that your shapeless arms are affecting your confidence and style. Why else would you be wearing a long-sleeved cardigan in summertime? Don't let your arms get the better of you -- take action and strengthen them with targeted exercises. Your arms will appear toned, your metabolism will get a boost and you'll have an easier time doing everyday things, such as carrying groceries and vacuuming. With your new-found confidence, those long-sleeved tees will be gathering dust while you show off your arms in sleeveless tops and dresses.
Your biceps are engaged each time you put on lipstick, drink a soda, lift up a baby or scratch your head. Yes, this two-headed muscle at the front of your upper arm is constantly working each time you flex your arm. Strengthening exercises for your biceps mimic this flexing motion. Standing or seated biceps curls, hammer curls and preacher curls come to mind. Not having dumbbells or a barbell to do these exercises is a poor excuse. Use water bottles, soup cans or a pack of flower or sugar -- be creative and start lifting.
Neglecting the backs of your upper arms because they're not visible is yet another excuse. Strengthening your triceps, which might resemble bat wings, is essential to create a nice shape and balance in your upper arms. This three-headed muscle is used each time you straighten your elbows. Get down on your knees and do triangle pushups or sit with your back toward a bench and do dips. No equipment needed here. Need more exercises? Do triceps kickbacks or overhead extensions with dumbbells or water-filled bottles.
If you were neglecting your triceps, you're probably not even thinking about your forearms. If your forearm muscles are weak, so is your grip strength. Opening jars, carrying groceries and a game of tennis must be quite challenging for you. Luckily the hammer curls mentioned earlier also target your forearms. Other exercises you can do include wrist curls and reverse wrist curls, in which you bend and extend your wrists while holding a dumbbell. Don't worry -- you can also use water-filled bottles.
If you think that strengthening exercises alone are going to shape and tone your arms, think again. If you are overweight, work on reducing your overall body fat through a reduced-calorie diet, regular cardio and strength training. Once your excess fat melts, your toned arm muscles will appear and you'll be eager for summer to come. If you have injuries or health conditions, don't forget to see your doctor before starting a new workout routine. Also, there no need to show off -- start slowly with minimal weight, and as you get stronger, increase the weight. Aim to complete three sets of 12 reps for each exercise.
Kimberly Caines is a well traveled model, writer and licensed physical fitness trainer who was first published in 1997. Her work has appeared in the Dutch newspaper "De Overschiese Krant" and on various websites. Caines holds a degree in journalism from Mercurius College in Holland and is writing her first novel.