You want toned and slim arms and abs so you look good in your clothes, but also for good health. Excess weight, particularly in your belly, increases the risk of several health conditions, including heart disease, cancer and diabetes. You don't have to hit the gym for hours every day to get the stomach and arms you want. Combine cardio with strength training and you'll be back in your favorite bikini before you know it.
Cardio burns calories, which helps you lose weight and slim down. You can't target your abs and arms with cardio, but it does help you burn fat all over your body. This type of exercise is vital for uncovering the muscles in your stomach and arms. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that women get at least two and a half hours of cardio each week, though more increases the benefits. Spread the time throughout the week to keep your metabolism going. Do a 30- to 60-minute cardio workout five days of the week, for example.
Strength training helps you tone the muscles in your abs and arms. This creates definition in both areas, which gives you a physique you'll be excited to show off. MayoClinic.com recommends two or three 20- to 30-minute strength-training sessions each week. Include exercises that target your stomach and arms. Do at least one set of 12 repetitions of each move in your routine. At this rate, you'll start seeing results in two or three weeks. As you get stronger, add sets to keep your progress on track. Take a day of rest between sessions to allow your muscles to repair and recover.
When it comes to cardio, you have so many options that it won't be hard to find one you enjoy. Workouts that are fun increase your motivation and make it more likely you'll stick with it. Walking, jogging, dancing, biking, swimming, soccer and basketball are ideal choices. Strength-training moves that work your abs include planks, crunches and situps. Add pushups, biceps curls, triceps dips and bench presses for your arms. Mix and match your favorites to keep your muscles challenged.
Creating a Routine
The perfect routine for your arms and abs is one you'll keep up with and that meets the exercise recommendations for healthy women. When you create a workout schedule, choose exercises you like and work them in around your other obligations. Write your workout into your daily planner, which ups the odds that you'll fit it in. If you have trouble finding 30 to 60 minutes at one time, break your workout into several 10- to 15-minute chunks during the day. For example, take a 15-minute walk in the morning, on your lunch break and after dinner.
Eliza Martinez has written for print and online publications. She covers a variety of topics, including parenting, nutrition, mental health, gardening, food and crafts. Martinez holds a master's degree in psychology.