Your sleeveless shirts and dresses may be packed away, but here's a reason to work your arms right now: they're one of the areas of the body you can transform the quickest. As soon as you pay a little more attention to your arms theyâll start to respond. Because the shoulders are the cornerstone of strength that all the other muscles in the arms pull from, itâs important to give them some extra love.
So grab a set of 5- to 8-pound dumbbells and do these seven exercises for killer arms you'll want to show off this winter. Engage your core throughout the entire arm workout in order to maintain good form and protect your lower back.
Note: Since Iâm now 7 months pregnant, Los Angeles based personal trainer Kourtney McCullough demonstrated the exercises.
Solid Core Plank
Starting off your arm workout with a static plank is a great way to fire up the whole upper body and core, in addition to the shoulders.
How to do it: Start in a plank position with your heels together and lifted, shoulders right above the wrists. Inhale through the nose and then exhale as you lower your body down as low as you can go maintaining your form, ideally with the elbows touching the sides of your waist. Hold it for 5 seconds before returning to your plank position. Start with five sets of 5 seconds and build up to 10.
RELATED: 20 Ways to Do a Plank
The Chest Opener is a great upper arm and shoulder exercise that forces you to engage your core, glutes, and inner thighs in addition to your arms. Itâs an exercise that opens the front of the chest as it works the shoulder blade muscles, lats, and triceps. Essentially, youâre improving your posture by lengthening your spine as you tone those sexy arms. Two birds, one stone.
How to do it: Start on your knees, holding one weight in each hand. Exhale as you press your arms straight back, palms facing behind you, and then inhale as you slowly bring the arms back to center. Think of trying to touch the weights together when you reach back in order to engage the upper back even more. Do three to five sets of 10 reps.
The Reverse Fly is a great exercise to target not only the shoulders, but the biceps and lats, too. You can do this on your knees, feet, or straddling an incline bench face down.
How to do it: Start by holding one weight in each hand, weights almost touching each other in front of you. Squeeze your abdominal muscles as you bring the arms in towards each other, almost like youâre hugging a large tree. Exhale as you send the arms out, keeping a slight bend in the elbow. Slowly resist the arms as you lower back to the start. Do three to five sets of 10.
Strong shoulders support all the other muscles in the arms. They provide support for the arms during suspended exercises like a plank or push up.
How to do it: Sitting on a chair or bench, hold one weight in each hand and bring the arms up so your elbows are in line with the shoulders and the hands are pointing up (think goal post). Inhale as you send the arms straight up so the weights just touch, being sure to keep the shoulders down and away from the ears. Keep your feet firmly planted on the ground and the core engaged so you keep the lower back stable. Do three to five sets of 10.
This is a great exercise that works several muscles in the arm at once (biceps, triceps, and lats) while the shoulder muscles get fired up for more action.
How to do it: This set up is similar to the traditional Shoulder Press. Sitting on a chair or bench, plant feet together firmly on the floor. This time, tilt your body slightly forward, thinking of energy reaching diagonally through the crown of your head. Bend the elbows so that the weights touch each other. On the inhale, straighten the arms directly overhead; as you exhale, widen the elbows and bring the arms down the back of the neck as if to "shave" the back of the head. Do three to five sets of 10.
RELATED: 10-Minute Workout for Defined Arms
Arm circles are a sure-fire way to engage your shoulders and create definition.
How to do it: Sitting on a chair, bring your hands in front of you at shoulder height, being sure not to bend your wrists. Start to make small circles with the arms, keeping the movement slow and controlled. Circle the arms 20 times in one direction and then switch directions for 20 times in the other.
Rotator Cuff In-and-Outs
One of the most common shoulder injuries for people over 40 is a rotator cuff tear. Use this exercise to prevent future injury by strengthening the area surrounding the shoulder joint while still sculpting your muscles.
How to do it: Hold your weights out to either side with your elbows touching your waist. Slowly rotate your arms in toward each other, then slowly rotate them back out to the starting position, keeping your forearms parallel to the floor. Do three to five sets of 10.
For more quick workouts, check out A 20-Minute, Hot-for-the-Holidays Workout.
Jennifer Cohen is a leading fitness authority, TV personality, entrepreneur and best-selling author of the new book, Strong is the New Skinny. With her signature, straight-talking approach to wellness, Jennifer was the featured trainer on The CWâs Shedding for the Wedding, mentoring the contestantsâ to lose hundreds of pounds before their big day, and she appears regularly on NBCâs Today Show, Extra, The Doctors and Good Morning America. Connect with Jennifer onÂ Facebook, Twitter, G+ and on Pinterest.