September 19, 2020

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The Beginner Arm Workout You Can Do At Home

There’s a quote from the TV drama Desperate Housewives that’s stuck with me for years: “I have the upper body strength of a kitten.” The phrase was originally employed by fictitious former model Gabrielle Solis, but I use it constantly. I say it when I can’t open pickle jars, and when I’m trying to get out of carrying grocery bags from the car to the house. I once said it to my trainer who chuckled and said, “Then do 10 more reps.”

The point is, I use humour to deflect from the fact that I don’t have the strongest upper body in the gym. However, building up my triceps, biceps, and shoulders is something I genuinely want to work on. I’d love to get bigger muscles, may even graduate to “the upper body strength of a bobcat.”

But to be honest, I wasn’t sure where to start. Push ups? Bicep curls? So I asked the experts over at the fitness app obé for some tips. Their instructor Liz Marie Chestang, a personal trainer and fitness professional, came up with a series of moves beginners can put together for a killer arm workout. She even demoed them for us. Follow along at home to begin building the strong arms of your dreams.

Ones and Twos

The move: Stand with your feet wider than hip-width apart and your toes pointing straight ahead, keeping your knees slightly bent. Bring your fists in front of each cheekbone. Then punch your right hand across your chest, twisting your torso as you do so. Repeat using alternating hands, as quickly as you can without sacrificing form. (We recommend listening to Ciara’s “1, 2 Step” as you punch, but that is optional.)

Reps: Keep up each burst for 30 seconds to one minute, then rest for 30 seconds. Repeat for two or three sets.

Equipment: If using just your hands feels too easy, hold light weights (one to five pounds) as you punch. obé

Overhead Press

The move: Stand with your feet wide and your toes pointing straight ahead. Start with your elbows bent and tucked into your sides, with your palms facing you. (Picture a doctor holding their hands up after scrubbing in.) Press your arms straight overhead, rotating your palms to face away from you. Then bring your arms back to starting position.

Reps: Do 12 to 20 reps, then rest for 15 to 30 seconds. Repeat for two to three sets.

Equipment: Incorporate light weights at your comfort level. obé

Isometric Lunge With Shoulder Pulse

The move: Step your left leg forward into a lunge, bending both your front and back knees to about 90 degrees. Place your left hand on your waist and hold a light hand weight in your right hand. Bring your right arm up, bending the elbow to 90 degrees, then pulse the weight up a few inches, then back down. Repeat on the opposite side.

Reps: Do 12 to 20 reps on each side. Repeat for two to three total sets. 

Equipment: Light hand weights.obé

Door Knob

The move: Stand with your feet wider than hip-width apart, your toes pointing forward, and your knees slightly bent. Bring the arms straight out at your sides, then use your shoulders to move them forward and backward, creating a small semi-circle shape with your hands, as if you’re twisting a doorknob.

Reps: Perform a 30 to 60 second burst, then rest for 15 to 30 seconds. Repeat two or three sets.

Equipment: Incorporate light weights at your comfort level. obé

Resistance Loop Row

The move: Grab a resistance loop firmly on either side. Hold your arms straight out in front of you, parallel to the ground. Keeping the left arm in place, draw the right elbow back, stretching the band as far as you can and squeezing the shoulder blades together. Return to the start position.

Reps: Repeat 12 to 20 times each side for two to three sets total.

Equipment: One resistance loop. obé

Lat Squeeze To Lat Extension

The move: Hold your arms straight out to either side, with palms facing forward. Then squeeze your elbows behind your back, as if you’re trying to make them touch.

Reps: Repeat 12 to 20 reps for two to three sets.

Equipment: Incorporate light weights at your comfort level. obé

Isometric Lunge With Bicep Curl

The move: Lower into a lunge with the right leg back and both knees bent to 90-degree angles. Hold a weight in your right hand, with your palm facing up. Keeping your elbow pressed into your side, contract your bicep to curl the weight up to your shoulder.

Reps: Do 12 to 20 reps on both sides. Repeat for two or three sets.

Equipment: Light hand weights.obé

Resistance Loop Shoulder Abduction

The move: Wrap a resistance band around the outside of your. hands, with your palms facing each other. In small controlled pulses, pull the palms apart.

Reps: Perform a 30 to 60 second burst, then rest for 15 to 30 seconds. Repeat for two or three sets.

Equipment: One resistance bandobé

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