Valentine’s? . . . how about ValenTONE! Whether you’re heading out-on-the-town with your girlfriends or have a date with that cute boy from geometry class, a sassy dress is bound to be involved! Add these great strength-based exercises into your already established exercise regimen to tone those “study hall” arms.
~ PILATES PUSH-UP ~
“A push-up . . . you’ve got to be kidding!!!”
No way, ladies! Incorporating some sort of push-up into your regimen will jumpstart the toning of your arms and back. It’s almost guaranteed to assist in large gains in upper body strength.
“I’m listening . . . “
Okay, here’s the scoop to execute a Pilates push-up:
- Bring yourself into a plank position with your wrists aligned directly underneath your shoulders. Your body should be nice and straight with your toes pushing into the ground. Drop your knees directly down to the ground and relax your feet (this means that the tops of your feet should drop toward the floor). Bend your elbows, tuck them in tight to the side and gently guide yourself down into a hover position just above the ground. Incorporate your breath into this exercise as well: exhale on the descent, inhale on the ascent. Use a full breath to guide you into and out of the push-ups.
- Aim for three sets of five PERFECT push-ups (form is everything, gals!) at least three times a week. As you notice those gains in strength, gradually increase the number of push-ups or complete the routine more than three times per week.
~ SHOULDER TRIPLET ~
“What makes the shoulder a triplet?”
The primary muscle of the shoulder consists of three parts: front, middle and back. In order to look elegant in that special dress, you must pay attention to all three parts of this muscle!
“This sounds complicated . . . what have I gotten myself into?”
Not too terribly complicated, here’s what you need to know:
- Light hand-weights (probably around 3-5 lbs.) are appropriate for this activity; however, since the shoulder muscles tend to fatigue quickly, it’s okay to skip the weights. (Be sure to add them as this exercise becomes easier!)
- Here is the triplet: 1. Stand tall and raise your arms out in front (it’s okay to have a slight bend in the elbow, but aim for a fairly straight arm). Make sure that your thumbs are directed toward the ceiling. Control your arms as they come down from the front raise. 2. Raise your arms directly out to the side. Thumbs should be directed toward the wall in front of you. Control your arms as they come down from the side raise. 3. Slightly squat by bending your knees and hinging forward. Again, raise your arms directly out to the side with the thumbs toward the front wall. The slight squat with hinge engages the back shoulder muscle so you’ve worked all three muscles!
- Three sets of ten triplets about three times per week should work those shoulders well. Remember, as these exercises become easier, increase the intensity by adding more weight or increase the frequency to greater than three times per week.
~ BICEPS CURL W/ SHOULDER PRESS ~
“What happened to the cool names for the exercises?”
The benefits of incorporating this exercise into your regimen far outweigh the “uncoolness” of the name.
“How does this one work?”
Easy, here’s what to do?:
- Again, light hand-weights are almost a necessity for this activity (about 5 lbs.) No worries, if hand-weights are nowhere in sight, grab two schoolbooks that are fairly equal in weight or just two water bottles!
- Imagine that your elbows are glued to your sides and, by bending your elbows, raise your forearms with palms up toward your upper body. You have just completed the biceps curl! Moving on . . . straighten your arms by pushing the weight up and slightly forward toward the ceiling. Gradually shift the orientation of your palms from facing you to facing outward as you push the weight up. Halfway there! Now, you’re going to do the same moves, except backward! Lower the weight down by bending your elbows. Pull your elbows back into your sides. Make sure your palms switched from facing outward to facing you. Lower the weights down to the sides by straightening the arm. Done!
- Complete three sets of twelve curls/presses about three times a week. Add more weight or increase the quantity per week for a little extra kick!
~ TRICEPS ROW ~
“What is this one all about?”
In order to complete the picture for a toned upper body, you must include the triceps and back muscles. This exercise incorporates two favorites into one exercise for a great finale on our upper body training.
“Sounds good! What do I do?”
Here’s the 411:
- Light hand-weights (again) are helpful in completion of this exercise (3-5 lbs.)
- Bend the knees and slightly squat. Hinge your upper body forward slightly and drop your arms down by your side toward your knees. Bend your elbows and, by tracking your elbows close to the sides, pull back into a row position (as if you were rowing a boat). Make sure that your thumbs are directed toward the ceiling. You should feel your shoulder blades come closer together! Now, straighten your arm out behind you to add in the triceps. Bend your elbow back into the row position and control the motion as you guide the weights back down to starting position. Simple!
- Try for three sets of ten triceps rows about three times a week. As always, add more weight or increase the number per week if this area needs more attention!
“I didn’t sign up for this!”
Yes, but….you’re the Valen-TONE queen now!
Boost your workout by incorporating ten minutes of cardiovascular exercise in between each toning segment. Not sure what to do? Grab a jump rope and jump away, do some jumping jacks or knee-high runs in place! By the end of the workout, you should have built-in about thirty minutes of cardiovascular exercise. Great job!