Summer is fast approaching and in some places we’re already busting out the tank tops and swim suits. And who doesn’t want some sexy guns to show off in their summer wear?
Below are 5 moves to help you tone your arms and get them tank-top ready. And the best part is these moves won’t only tone your arms, they will also help you create a sexy back for all those strapless summer dresses, tank tops and swimsuits!
Dips are a great compound exercise to work your chest, shoulders and triceps….And even your abs! Want to tighten up that arm jiggle and get sexy shoulders? You need to include dips!
There are two variations of dips you can do – Dips Off a Bench or Full Dips off of parallel or dip bars. Beginners should start with Dips Off a Bench or a foot-assisted Full Dip Variation. Even advanced exercisers can do Dips Off a Bench if you don’t have access to dip or parallel bars!
To do Dips off a Bench, sit on a bench and place both hands on the bench right outside your hips. Your fingertips should hang over the bench and face you.
Lift yourself up off the bench so your butt is right in front of it. Stretch your legs out in front of you while keeping your butt back by the bench. The straighter your legs are and the further your heels are from your butt, the harder the move will be. Bend your elbows and drop your butt toward the ground.
Drop until your upper arms are parallel to the ground then press back up through your hands and heels. Keep your butt and back right up against the bench. Do not let your body drift forward.
Press yourself up so your arms are straight and then lower yourself back down.
Advanced exercisers may want to place their feet up on a bench and even put a weight on their lap. If you have had shoulder injuries in the past, please be careful with this move as it can place more strain on the shoulder.
Click here for other Dip Variations.
2. Push Ups
Push ups are another compound exercise to tone your chest, shoulders, and triceps as well as your entire core. Push ups are basically a moving plank so if you want a great beach body, you need to include them in your workout routine!
If you can’t do a full push up from the ground, a great push up modification is the Incline Push Up. This is a better modification than the Knee Push Up if you have a proper incline available (table, box, couch…) because it forces your core to work the same way it would during a Full Push Up.
To do the Incline Push Up, place your hands up on a bench, bar, table or even a wall. The higher the incline, the easier the move will be. To start, your hands should be outside your chest with hands parallel and fingertips pointing straight ahead. Your hands should be pressing into the ground, bar or wall and away from each other as if trying to tear a piece of paper.
Straighten your arms out and place your feet together so you are in a high plank position. You should tighten your quads and glutes and draw your belly button in toward your spine. Make sure you aren’t shrugging your shoulders. Your body should be in a straight line from your head to your heels. Your hips shouldn’t be dropping toward the ground and your butt shouldn’t be pushed up toward the ceiling. Also, do not tuck your chin or jut your head forward. Your back should not be excessively arched or rounded.
Begin lowering your chest toward the incline, dropping your chest right between your hands. Keep your body in a nice straight line. Your elbows shouldn’t flare out from your body. They don’t have to be right in by your sides, but you don’t want your elbows flaring up above your shoulders. Your elbows should make an arrow with your body not a “T” shape.
Your body should move as one unit toward the ground, bar or wall. You want to drop your chest right to the bar. Once you lower all the way down, press back up, keeping your body in a nice straight line. Then repeat. Slow down the tempo to make the move harder!
Click here for more Push Up Variations.
Handstands are a great way to tone and strengthen your shoulders and triceps while also working your core. Plus they’re fun!
If you’ve never done a handstand before, you can do one of these variations. Beginners will want to start with a modified variation of the handstand. A Beginner Handstand is almost like a downward dog.
Set up in a High Plank Position from your hands and toes. Then push your butt up in the air and drive your chest back toward your knees. Your focus is on getting your back flat and your biceps by your ears, not on keeping your legs straight, so bend your knees if needed to get your back flat and in a nice straight line from your head to your tailbone.
Press your chest toward your knees so your back stays flat and hold.
To advance to the basic handstand hold, put your feet up on a table or chair. You still want to focus on a nice straight line from your hands up your arms and torso to your tailbone. From there you can walk your feet up a wall and hold or even try some of these other handstand variations. Make sure that on each variation, you brace your abs so you don’t feel this in your low back.
4. Pull Ups
The first three moves focus on your shoulders and triceps. Pull ups, on the other hand, will focus on your biceps and your back. Strapless dress? Tank Top? Swim Suit? HECK YES! Plus, Pull Ups are a great core exercise so if you want a toned middle, you need to include Pull Ups!
Can’t do a full Pull Up? Then try an Assisted Pull Up. You can do either a Jumping Pull Up with a slow lower down or a Foot-Assisted Pull Up.
To do the Foot-Assisted Pull Up, hang from a bar or use TRX/Jungle Gym straps. Place your feet on the ground underneath you. The more firmly planted your feet are, the easier the move will be. Your goal is to use your feet as little as possible. Your feet will assist only as much as you need to perform the pull up.
Hanging from the bar, press your chest out as if you are going to lead the pull with your chest. Feel your shoulder blades draw slightly down and together. Then pull yourself up drawing your elbows down. Lead with your chest and pull your up so your chin goes above the bar then lower back down. Make sure you keep your chest pressed out and don’t shrug your shoulders during the movement.
For the Jumping Pull Up Variation and even more advanced Pull Up Exercises, check out this post on How To Do A Pull Up.
5. Inverted Rows
Inverted Rows are another great move to tone your back, biceps and core. They are also a great way to develop the upper body strength you need to do full pull ups while improving your posture. Plus if you have any shoulder, neck or upper back pain, Inverted Rows can help you alleviate it!
To do the Inverted Row, hold a suspension trainer strap in each hand or use a bar. Walk your feet out so that you are leaning back. The more you walk your feet under the straps or bar, the harder the move will be. So the closer to parallel to the ground you get, the harder the move will be.
Brace your abs and squeeze your glutes as you press your chest out so there is tension between your shoulder blades. Make sure you don’t shrug your shoulders. You want to keep your body in a nice straight line from your heels to your head.
Row up, driving your elbows down and back. Feel yourself pulling yourself up with your back. Row until your chest comes up to the handles and then lower yourself back down. Don’t let your hips sink as you lower back down or your low back arch. Do not let your wrists break as you row and your hands turn in.
Move in a controlled fashion as you keep tension between your shoulder blades the entire time. Make sure you row low and don’t shrug your shoulders at any point. Do not bounce off the bottom of your row or use momentum to get back up. Also, do not let your back round at the bottom. Keep tension in your back the entire time.
Enjoy these five great moves to help you get your upper body (and core!) ready for summer! Which is your favorite?
Cori is the owner of Redefining Strength, a functional training facility in Orange County, California focused on helping each client find their strong. She started training and writing a fitness blog in 2011 because she wanted to empower people through diet and exercise so that they can lead healthier, happier lives.