Some days, you have all the time in the world for your workouts. Other days, not so much. When your triceps turn into bat wings, it's time to return to your upper-body workout. Even if there`s no time for a full routine, a few quick arm-toning exercises will bring back some muscle tone.
Ring the Bells
Let's get one thing straight. Spot toning is a myth, and calisthenics exercises will not slim your arms. You need aerobic exercise for burning all-over body fat. Kettlebell training provides aerobic exercise along with upper-body muscle toning. The kettlebell is a cast iron weight, which resembles a cannonball with a handle. These weighted devices accommodate explosive exercises such as snatches, swings, and clean and presses. The results of a study sponsored by the American Council on Exercise indicate that a 20-minute kettlebell workout burns an average of 272 calories. Consult your doctor if you have previous shoulder joint injuries.
A First Lady Workout
When you visualize beautiful arm muscles, ask yourself, "What would Michelle Obama do?" In an episode of the Dr. Oz Show, the First Lady revealed that jumping rope is her exercise of choice when she and the president are on the road. Jumping rope provides efficient aerobic exercise, while toning your biceps and triceps. Some companies make a weighted jump rope, which revs up the arm-toning action. Use different movement patterns, like crossing your arms in front of you, to target different muscle groups. Start with 10 minutes and build up to 20. Check the floor for objects that might inadvertently trip you up.
Bearing Your Weight
When there's no exercise equipment to be found, your own body weight provides a suitable alternative. Pushups, performed in various positions, target your chest and triceps. If your upper-body strength is not quite up to par, there's no shame in performing the bent knee version of the exercise, or even placing your hands against the wall. To target your triceps, there's nothing like a dip. Place a chair in front of your couch. Extend your legs, put your feet on the chair and your hands at the edge of the couch. Bend your elbows and lower your hips toward the floor. Cry for mercy as you straighten your arms. In terms of reps, perform only as many you can do in good form. Avoid arching your back during pushups and hiking your shoulders during dips.
Resistance is Not Futile
Your mom might have popped the "Jane Fonda Workout" in the VCR, put on a pair of leg warmers and performed 10 minutes of arm circle variations while Jane screamed "work for the burn, ladies." Said burn was not doing anything to tone the arm muscles.The pain you feel during these old-school calisthenics exercises is simply lactic acid buildup from holding your arms in one position. To truly challenge your muscles, you must apply resistance. Elastic resistance bands do the trick. If none are available, cans of soup will suffice. If using bands, check for nicks, and avoid exercises that keep the band close to your face.
In 1999, Lisa Mercer’s fitness, travel and skiing expertise inspired a writing career. Her books include "Open Your Heart with Winter Fitness" and "101 Women's Fitness Tips." Her articles have appeared in "Aspen Magazine," "HerSports," "32 Degrees," "Pregnancy Magazine" and "Wired." Mercer has a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the City College of New York.