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Thursday, June 7, 2012
By Karen Kwan
With our summer wardrobe forcing us to bare all sorts of ourselves, we can’t help but get fixated on toning this and strengthening that. Our current hang-up? Our arms—we saw Cameron Diaz’s lean, defined arms in What to Expect When You’re Expecting and now they’re on our must-have list. So we spoke to Andie Clement of Andie the Fit Geek to get the down-low on what’s best when it comes to getting our arms into top shape.
LIPSTICK POWDER N PAINT: Should we go with lighter weights and more reps or heavier weights and fewer reps? Will you get different results with each?
Andie Clement: When training any muscle group, it is important to use enough weight so you are challenging your body. Often women are afraid of lifting too much weight as they feel they will get too bulky and look like a man. This is a myth. Testosterone is primarily responsible for allowing men to bulk up (especially in their upper bodies and arms) and luckily as women we don’t have the same levels of testosterone. My general rule of thumb for toning of the arms is to lift enough weights so you can complete about 8 reps with ease and have to work harder between reps 8 and 12. Once you are able to complete 12 reps with ease, it’s time to move up to a heavier weight.
LPNP: Will you get different results if you do exercises with free weights versus your own body weight?
AC: I’m a big believer in using functional movements in programs. Functional movements are based on “real world biomechanics”—motions we use on a daily basis such as getting out of a chair, lifting groceries, taking the stairs, etc. So exercises like squats, lunges, and push ups can greatly benefit these day-to-day activities. Functional movements also often incorporate several muscle groups so it is a more efficient way of working out.
That being said it’s also important to utilize weighted exercises as well, especially if your goal is to increase overall muscle tone. I like to include a combination of both body weight and free weight exercises in a client’s program.
LPNP: How often should you change your program?
AC: Doing the same exercises every day, your body will plateau in a hurry. In order to change your body shape, you need to challenge it. This means changing up your exercises often in order to confuse your muscles and force them to work in new ways. I recommend completely changing up your strength program every 4-6 weeks. It’s also a great idea to try something new once a week, whether it be taking a new yoga class, or training with a friend; it’s a great way to keep things fresh (after all the same workout over and over will get boring fast) and introduce new exercises into your weekly program.
LPNP: How can we work our arms to help get rid of that underarm flabbiness that keeps on waving even after we’ve stopped?
AC: The biggest trouble area in the arms for women is the triceps. My favourite exercise to target this area is a tricep dip. This can be done at the gym using a bench or at home on your couch—anywhere with a ledge a few feet off of the floor will work. Sit on the bench or ledge and place your hands on the edge just behind your bum. Place your feet out in front of you straight and lift your bum off the bench. Keeping your back straight and bum close to the edge, lower down so that your elbows are bent at a 90 degree angle (Keep your elbows pointing back at all times). Press back up so that your arms are straight. Complete 3 sets of 10-15 reps.