Toning exercises are a great way to fight the effects of aging and maintain the youthful look of your body. Unfortunately for women, there is a fine line between toning and bulking up - the last thing you want are big bulky arms. Fortunately, there are plenty of exercises that, if done right, can tone up your arms while maintaining a slender look. A toning workout made just for women is your secret in fighting the effects of aging in your arms.
An area that most women want to tone is the triceps muscle, which is on the back of your upper arm. The triceps muscle extends the elbow, so you are working the triceps in any exercise in which you straighten your arm. Some examples of exercises are an overhead dumbbell triceps extension and a triceps kickback. To do the latter, lean forward with a dumbbell in one hand. Bend the elbow, and stick the elbow to the side of your ribs. To do the movement, simply straighten your elbow to kick the weight back toward your butt, and then bend the elbow to lower the weight back to the starting point.
The muscle that opposes the triceps is the biceps muscle. It is important to exercise both the biceps and triceps in order to maintain balance in your arm, in terms of both strength and aesthetics. The biceps muscle flexes the elbow, so any movement in which you bend your elbow works the biceps. The standard biceps curl exercise is great, but also try it with your hands turned 90 degrees so the weights are vertical. That exercise, called a hammer curl, will work the biceps differently.
The shoulder muscles are important for strength, but they also can look great if toned. The main shoulder muscle is called the deltoid. To work this muscle, try the shoulder press, in which you push dumbbells into the air above your head and then bring them back down to shoulder level. Also try the lateral dumbbell raise, in which you raise your straight arms up to your sides to shoulder level and then back down as if flapping your wings.
How to Tone Versus Bulk Up
For women, the keys to toning your arms are the amount of weight used for an exercise and the number of repetitions you do. Choose a weight for each exercise that will allow you to do 15 to 20 repetitions and still feel a burn. The last repetition should not be impossible – it should feel as if you can do five more – but you should still feel fatigued. Always stick to 15 to 20 repetitions for toning. Any more and you are wasting your time, and any less and you may risk bulking up. Do two sets of each exercise, and make sure to choose at least one exercise for the biceps, triceps and shoulders. Following this protocol, you should see great tone in a few weeks.
Scotty Brunning is a Chicago-based health and fitness writer. Having worked with the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Cooper Fitness Center in Dallas, he has a plethora of fitness experience. He is an ACSM-certified health fitness specialist and a Cooper Institute master fitness specialist. Brunning holds a master's degree in health and fitness.