Fitness with Jennifer Hale
We all have our problem areas, and for me, it’s my arms. After years of gymnastics and competitive cheerleading, I feel now like all that muscle – especially in the upper shoulder area - is softening and breaking down in an unflattering way, if I don’t focus on keeping it toned. My workouts are often focused on my upper body, consequently, to try and combat this. Here are a few of my favorite exercises to tighten up and shape arms without adding bulk, so you’re ready to enjoy the last moments of strapless, sleeveless weather.
1. Triceps: This is where I start my upper -body workouts. Triceps are smaller muscles that require deliberate and precise movements to really tone. When we look in the mirror straight on, we don’t notice them, but if you turn to the side and peek, it can reveal a whole new world. That’s the angle the camera seems to find me at for many of my interviews! For a lot of us girls, this is also a favorite area for the body to store fat. My go-to exercise is a triceps kickback, with a twist: as you’re using one knee and arm to kneel on a bench – and straightening out your other arm that’s holding a dumbbell from the bent, 90 degree starting position – rotate your palm up toward the ceiling just before your arm hits the parallel position. It’s not a big motion, but I find it really targets my triceps effectively. If I’m in a hotel without access to hand weights, I do close-grip pushups. Get in a push up plank position and form a triangle with your hands by touching your two thumbs and two index fingers together. Then – do your pushups! You’ll feel the burn in the back of your arms quickly!
2. Biceps: Of course, I rely on the curl, but I like to do both traditional dumbbell curls and hammer curls. They work different things in your upper arm. “Biceps” translates from Latin as “having two parts” or a two-headed muscle, essentially meaning the muscle starts in two different places. You can work those two different spots effectively by doing both a traditional dumbbell curl (your palms face upwards as you raise the weight from your thigh to your chest) and a hammer curl (your palms face each other or in, just flip your wrist). Don’t forget with either curl, it’s imperative to keep your elbows by your side and not swing or rock the weights up.
3. Shoulders: Defined shoulders – or deltoids – gives a girl that great shape in a strapless dress or tank top. My shoulder workouts always include some form of an overhead press using weights– whether I’m standing, sitting or pressing as I stand up from a squat. There are so many great ways to shape your delts, but I like the overhead press because it’s a multi-joint or compound exercise that puts all the muscle groups in my shoulders - and many in the rest of my arm - to work. If you’re short on time, this is the exercise to rely on.