Bridal Bootcamp: 22 Exercises for Toned Arms and Shoulders
Look your best on your big day
Chances are, your dream wedding dress will show off your back, shoulders, and arms. And since last-minute RSVPs and seating arrangements will already have you stressed out as you approach your big day, you should give yourself at least six to eight weeks to start toning up—"the sooner the better," says Jessica Matthews, certified personal trainer and assistant professor of exercise science at San Diego Miramar College. Follow a well-rounded fitness routine that includes cardio and resistance training, with an added focus on your upper body, Matthews suggests. Get ready to go sleeveless, strapless, or backless by mixing and matching these upper-body moves three times a week.
Sexy side-arm push-up
Kristin McGee's best exercise for toned triceps, a flatter belly, and super tight obliques
In this video, learn how to work out your back and shoulders by doing a modified plank. The dolphin plank is easier to do than a traditional plank because you can use your forearms for balance, which takes the pressure off of your wrist joints. See the next workout moveSee the full workout for sleek, sexy arms
Thumb Arm Figure 8
Want to eliminate upper arm jiggle? In this video, learn how to do a workout move that looks easy, but is deceptively challenging. This power move is totally worth it, whether you want arms like Jessica Biel's, stronger shoulders, or a little more flex in your biceps.See the first workout moveSee the full workout for sleek, sexy arms
If you want to strengthen your upper body, the upward dog is probably the yoga pose for you. Not only does it increase flexibility in your spine, it also opens your chest and shoulders. Plus, it's also a great post-workout stretch! Watch this video and practice this highly beneficial and therapeutic move. See the next workout moveSee the full workout for sleek, sexy arms
Watch this video to learn how to do a move that strengthens your back and your arms. The bent over row might look simple, but you'll need perfect posture to get the full benefits of this move, and to avoid straining the muscles in your neck and back. See the next workout moveSee the full workout for sleek, sexy arms
Want to lose your arm jiggle for good? Watch this video and learn how to do triceps dips. This no-equipment exercise will tone the muscles on the back of your arms from shoulder to elbow, and will get you ready for tank top season. Keep your shoulders down to prevent injury. Do 15 reps. See the next workout moveSee the full workout for sleek, sexy arms
A variation of the traditional push-up, the pike push-up zeroes in on your arms and shoulders. You won't have to worry about what's your best angle in your wedding photos—your arms will look sexy from every angle.
How to do it: Begin in push-up position with hands in a wide diamond (fingers pointing toward each other).
Bend at waist, lifting hips up and coming onto toes (walk them in a bit if needed) so body forms upside-down "V". Bend elbows to lower head toward hands.
Press back up; do 10 reps. For even more of a challenge, do 10 reps with right leg raised, then repeat with left leg raised.
Crab sit with dip
Tones your triceps so you can wave to your guests without fear of the dreaded arm-jiggle.
How to do it: Sit with your legs bent and feet shoulder-width apart on the mat in front of you. Put your hands on the mat behind you, directly beneath your shoulders, with your fingers facing forward. Without locking your elbows, extend your arms to raise your hips as far as you can off the mat.
Keeping your butt slightly off the mat, bend your arms, pointing your elbows behind you (be sure the movement comes from your arms, not your hips); extend your arms to complete the rep. Work up to 2 sets of 24 reps.
Roll-the-ball with uneven push-up
A more advanced version of the push-up. This move also fires your core and glutes. If you don't have a medicine ball, swap in a stack of books, a soccer ball, or a basketball.
How to do it: Get into plank and put right hand on the ball, left hand on the floor. Squeeze your abs and shoulders as you lower towards the floor, keeping elbows in. Push back up and pass the ball to the other side. Do at least 5 on each side.
Clean and press windmill
In addition to your shoulders, this multitasking move engages your obliques and glutes.
How to do it: Stand with feet shoulder-width and an 8- to 10-lb dumbbell between them. Push hips back to lower into squat (knees behind toes); grasp dumbbell with left hand. Push through feet and rise to standing, bringing dumbbell toward left shoulder; push it overhead.
Bend at waist to right, allowing right foot to turn out; right hand is on inside of right leg. Continue to bend sideways, sliding right hand down to foot, keeping left hand overhead. Reverse movement to return to squat; continue for 60 seconds.
Switch sides and repeat.
Hip heist push-up
Jillian Michaels demonstrates the hip heist push-up, which revs up your heart rate and boosts your calorie burn while strengthening and toning your shoulders and arms. Not only will your upper body look great in that wedding dress, but you will have the stamina to dance the night away at your reception.
How to do it: Get into "up" part of a push-up; lower chest and bend elbows to 90 degrees. Lift right hand and left foot, rotating upper body to the right while bringing left knee across body toward right armpit. Pivot on right foot and continue rotating torso until you're face up. Lift hips until torso is in tabletop position. Lift left hand and right foot, rotating upper body to right, pivoting on left foot until you are back in the "up" part of a push-up.
Biceps and arm circles
Targets the biceps and upper back.
How to do it: Stand with legs slightly wider than hip-width, a 5- to 8-pound dumbbell in each hand, elbows bent and palms up. Keeping spine straight, squat and circle left hand up and in toward your shoulder in a circular motion (as if beckoning someone toward you); reverse to lower hand. Do 16 reps, then switch sides and repeat.
Helps get rid the loose skin on the back of your arms, sometimes called "bat wings."
How to do it: Lie face up with feet on floor, knees bent, a 5-lb dumbbell in each hand. Keep them a few inches off floor. Keeping arms straight, raise left arm over chest while right arm stays over head. Lower to start and repeat. Do 15 reps with left arm, then switch sides. Do 2-3 sets.
In addition to feeling the burn in your shoulders and biceps, you'll work your core and butt—perfect for form-fitting mermaid-style wedding dresses. No kettlebell? Sub in a dumbbell.
How to do it: Begin in a modified side-plank position with legs stacked and knees bent. Hold a kettlebell (or a water bottle) in your right hand, with your right elbow bent and weight resting against your forearm. Lift your hips so your body is straight from knees to shoulders, pressing kettlebell up to the ceiling. Do 3 sets on each side. (Trainer tip: Keep the kettlebell directly above your shoulder, and focus your eyes on it.)
I-V shoulder raise
This shoulder raise sculpts and chisels by targeting the smaller muscles in your arms. If it's too challenging for you, start out with no weights.
Stand with feet together, a 5-to-10-pound dumbbell in each hand, arms by your sides. Bring dumbbells together to touch in front of body, palms facing in. With arms straight, raise dumbbells to shoulder height. Lower dumbbells, then raise diagonally to shoulder height so arms form a V in front of body. Return to starting position; that's 1 rep.
V and lift
For sleek arms, you need to work more than just your biceps and triceps; you've also got to target the little muscles. Health contributing fitness editor Tracy Anderson demonstrates this sculpting move, which will leave your guests in awe of your toned physique.
How to do it: Stand with feet slightly wider than hip-width, arms at sides, 3-lb weights in each hand. Bend right arm at elbow so weight is in line with head and arm forms a V.
Lower back to start, then lift arm out to side, extending directly out from the shoulder.
Return to start; do 30 reps per side.
Bent-over row to shoulder press
Bent-over rows tone your back and arms, and also stretch the hamstrings. The shoulder press strengthens and defines the shoulders and arms.
How to do it: A. Stand with knees slightly bent, holding a 5- to 8-pound weight in each hand, palms facing back. (It's OK to start with lighter weights on these moves, if needed.) Tighten abs, then bend at the waist so your back is parallel to the floor and arms are hanging down.
B. Return to standing, bending elbows to bring weights up toward your chest; pause, then continue to lift weights overhead as you rise up on your toes. Return to starting position. Do 15 reps.
One-leg rear-delt raise
This move provides a well-rounded exercise for your whole body.
How to do it: Hold 5- to 8-pound weight in each hand, palms facing in. Bend forward at waist, letting arms hang, while lifting left leg back so it's in line with torso. Flex shoulder muscles and raise weights out to sides until arms are parallel to floor (as shown). Lower arms. Do 15 reps; switch legs, and repeat.
(Trainer tip: To help with balance, keep eyes focused on a single point.)
Triceps down dog
Say om for your upper body: this take on yoga's downward dog adds a pushup to tone your triceps and work your chest and shoulder muscles.
How to do it: From plank position, bend elbows to lower down as far as you can, then straighten them. Lift your hips up as you push back into Down Dog position, pressing your heels toward the floor. Return to plank. Do entire sequence 10 times.
Burn fat while you build muscle! This exercise torches calories while working your arms, shoulders, and back.
How to do it: Get into the "up" part of push-up position with hands directly below shoulders and body in a straight line from head to heels. Keeping core tight, push through toes and hop forward, landing gently with feet on the outside of hands. Hop back to starting position. Bend elbows (keeping them close to body) to lower body toward floor, then push back up; that's 1 rep. Do 10–12 reps.
Table top press
Strengthens and tones the back of your arms while also giving your lower back and glutes a nice stretch. You'll be confident and light on your feet for your first dance with your new hubby.
How to do it: Sit with knees bent, feet on mat, hands by hips (fingers forward). Lift hips so body forms tabletop with shoulders over hands, thighs and torso parallel to floor. Lift left foot; cross left ankle over right knee.
Bend elbows, lowering butt nearly to mat; press back up, straightening elbows and engaging triceps. Do 10 reps; switch legs and repeat.