Did you give your arms the cold shoulder this winter? It’s easy to bypass biceps, triceps, and shoulder exercises when they’re hiding under layers of chunky sweaters. But with warmer weather on the way, it’s time to focus on those overlooked limbs.
When developing a fitness plan, it’s important to avoid spot training and one-dimensional exercises. While the main goal is to reveal strong, sculpted arms, biceps curls alone won’t yield the results you desire. Instead, focus on total-body conditioning moves that will help shred your entire physique.
Squat shoulder press
This one-and-done compound exercise is extremely effective at creating curves, crushing calories and chiseling your entire body. Its explosive nature encourages muscle endurance and improves overall athletic ability.
- Holding free weights at shoulder height, hinge back at the hips to lower the body into a squat. Keep your weight in your heels as you push your butt back until your thighs are parallel with the ground. Hold for two breaths.
- As you drive through your heels and hips to lift your body, simultaneously extend your arms up into an overhead position. Squeeze your glutes at the top of this movement. Repeat 12-15 times.
Plank shoulder lifts
Planks have become one of the most popular exercises for a reason: They firm the entire body, improve balance, and improve stability. And while the plank is a rock star in its own right, it’s only an opening act compared with the following variation.
For beginners or those new to side planks, modify this movement by practicing it on your knees first. Keep your shoulders safe by choosing a light, manageable weight.
- Start on your left side with your shoulder aligned above your elbow. In your right hand, hold a light freeweight near your right hip.
- Push through your left forearm, activating your core muscles, and elevate your hips so your body forms a straight line from head to heels.
- Once steady, keep a slight bend in your right arm as you raise it to shoulder height. Hold for one breath then return it to the starting position. Continue this lateral lift for 10-12 repetitions. Focus on your alignment and avoid a drop in the hips. Once you’ve completed 10-12 reps, repeat on the opposite side.
You could create an entire workout on plank exercises alone. By making tiny tweaks in the placement of your arms and legs, different muscle groups are targeted. This plank variation energizes the chest, core, shoulders, glutes, quads, biceps, and triceps by forcing them to lift and lower your body weight.
- Begin in a push-up position with your hands stacked below your shoulders.
- Lower your right forearm to the floor, then lower your left. You should now be in a forearm plank position.
- Return to the starting stance by placing your right hand on the floor and pushing through your palms to straighten your right arm. Repeat with your left hand. You should be back in a push-up position.
- Remember to keep your hands below your shoulders each time you lift and lower your body and avoid rocking your hips with each repetition. Repeat this sequence for 30-45 seconds.
For best results, repeat this circuit three to five times.
Ashley B. Greenblatt is a certified personal trainer and wellness coach. To learn more, visit ashleyblakefitness.com.