Just about every woman I've ever trained focuses a lot of attention on getting smaller hips, butt, abs and legs. Sound familiar? In truth, a symmetrical body is one of the sexiest looks you can strive for.
By symmetrical, I'm referring to an overall body fat reduction and a complete workout program that doesn't neglect any muscle group. A 'magical" end result will happen from a workout that makes the shoulders as important as the glutes, the chest as important as the hips -- and, yes -- the arms as important as the abs. This makes the body appear balanced and artistic in design.
Everyone is fascinated by women who have sleek and tight arms -- biceps that look fit with a bit of muscularity, and triceps that look tight and firm. It displays strength and femininity wrapped in one package. What could be sexier than that?
There are a few things I've learned about attaining beautiful arms that have proven themselves time and again. These training concepts are not always seen in gyms and hardly performed by trainees.
As always, you do have to perform cardio and strength training to make changes; these are the best tools we have to improve a muscle from a cosmetic standpoint.
Here's my formula for sexy arms:
1. Antagonist Workouts - Antagonist training refers to working opposing muscle groups in the same workout. There are many methods to manipulate a workout, but I've had great success performing a biceps exercise, immediately followed by a triceps exercise. For example, if you're performing three sets of dumbbell curls and three sets of triceps dumbbell extensions, you would perform the curl movement, and after completing the goal reps, immediately go to the triceps exercise. Wait a bit and then continue the cycle (biceps exercise followed by triceps). This allows you to use more weight poundage because the opposing muscle group gets a bit of a "rest" as you work the other muscle. This is my all-time favorite way to work arms, and I've had my best success with clients using this method.
2. Time Between Sets - I've found that arms respond quite well with a 45-to 60-second rest between sets. Using our antagonist workout example: in point #1 - After performing the biceps curl and triceps extension, one would wait no more then 45 seconds and then repeat the cycle. People tend to wait longer, or they repeat a set too soon. There has to be some time allotted for recovery, but not so much that you begin to get stale. This allows you to do more work in less time and pumps blood volume into the arm.
3. The Tweak - This special move is for the biceps muscles, not the triceps (back of the arm). The tweak refers to a simple move that will provide great results. For example, when performing a biceps curl with a dumbbell, most people will curl the weight up towards the upper arm and then return to the starting position and repeat. The fact is, they missed a critical move. When curling the dumbbell to the upper arm, you should turn the 'pinky' finger and wrist in the direction outside of the shoulder area as you approach the top part of the movement. This slight tweak provides a perfect biceps contraction and you'll definitely feel and see results from it. The entire movement - Curl -and-tweak is one movement, so don't separate them.
4. Specialization Days - Although I did make the initial comment that one should always strive for a symmetrical appearance, I also believe that using a specialized approach for specific periods provides great value. For example, for a four- to six -week period, add three to four additional sets for your biceps and your triceps in one of your weekly sessions. Don't try this in every workout because you'll simply over work them. Just one day per week, try adding volume (more sets). This will force your arms to adapt to an increase in overload. If you have time, you can even just add an additional workout day and make it just an arm workout session (no other muscle groups) for four to six weeks.
5. Lower Body Fat - You won't get great- looking arms with elevated body fat levels. Sometimes some of my new female clients tell me that they hate the flab on the back of their arms and want to know what exercises will make the arms sleek. It doesn't quite work like that. As you perform your arm exercises and as you reduce body fat through a slight calorie reduction with added cardiovascular exercise, - you'll see your arms develop the way you want them to. The muscles will develop slightly from your workouts, and your reduced body fat will then create sleek muscles.
A good nutrition program combined with a slight calorie deficit, cardiovascular exercise and weight training provides vital balance. A proper nutrition program will send just the right amount of protein, carbohydrates and mono unsaturated fats into your body and help your arms (as well as your entire body) look leaner. Cardio will accelerate the fat- burning process and weight training will stimulate and develop your muscles so that when the fat comes off - you're left with a lean and tight body, and of course, beautifully sculpted arms.
It may take some time, and you will have to be patient, but the end result will be worth it - strength and femininity in one package.
A competitive bodybuilder and 2004 winner of the prestigious WNBF (World Natural Bodybuilding Federation) Masters Pro Card, Raphael Calzadilla is a veteran of the health and fitness industry. He specializes in a holistic approach to body transformation, nutrition programs and personal training. He earned his B.A. in Communications from Southern Connecticut State University and is certified as a personal trainer with ACE and APEX. In addition, he successfully completed the RTS1 program based on biomechanics.
Raphael Calzadilla, BA, CPT, ACE, eDiets Chief Fitness pro
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