When it’s cold, dark and rainy, it’s a good opportunity to increase your time in the weight room. Spend the time now and you’ll enjoy toned and sculpted arms in time for summer. Plus Michelle Obama and various other celebrities have shown us that muscle is the next sexy! Try the following four exercises, three times per week on alternating days for the next four weeks and you’ll be impressed with the changes to your muscle conditioning. Say good-bye to flabby arms!
The chin-up is one of the best upper body exercises and is definitely one of my favorite compound upper body movements. The problem is most people can’t perform a full chin-up without assistance.
Fortunately, most gyms offer a Gravitron or other Assisted Chin-up machines enabling most people to incorporate chinups into their workout routine because the machines offer assistance. The model at your gym may be either a stand-up or kneel model and it may either be computerized or involve only a weight stack. The instructions on the front of the machine will clearly demonstrate how to complete the set-up process. You will also notice that the chin-up exercise allows you to choose between 3-4 different grips – a wide grip, a mid-grip, a narrow grip and a reverse mid-grip. We recommend to our clients that they use all the various grips to challenge their muscles with a slightly different stimulus with each set.
Once you have decided upon the grip, technique is pretty simple:
- As you pull with your arms, your body will lift upwards.
- Stop once your chin has cleared the bar.
- Slowly return to the starting position.
- Attempt to achieve full range of motion without locking out your elbows.
- Try to focus on pulling with the muscles in your back rather than your arms.
Perform a set of 8-12 rep.
To perform this exercise at home, you can purchase a chin-up bar at most department stores or fitness equipment retailers for a very low cost (or head to your local park and use the monkey bars). Since a regular chin-up bar doesn’t offer the assistance most people need, we suggest you either use a small bench or just use your legs to jump up to the bar and then control the release on the way down. If your strength isn’t up to the point of lifting or lowering your body weight at all then you can just keep your feet on the bench/ground and lift and lower as much of your body weight as you can handle. With time and consistency, you will be able to lift and lower more of your weight!
- Lie on your back on a step/bench holding free weights (or heavy soup cans) with legs suspended in the air and knees bent at 90 degrees.
- Start with arms positioned straight up over your shoulders.
- Slowly lower the weights to the side until your elbows are bent at the side at shoulder height and hands positioned over elbows.
- Slowly press the hand-weights back upwards.
- Contract chest muscles as you press up and in.
Perform 8-12 reps with enough resistance that fatigues you.
A compound upper body exercise and a great way to strengthen your back.
- Grab a hold of the pulley handles and start in a standing position (or seated), knees slightly bent, abdominals contracted, shoulders back and down, chest lifted up and out and keeping your upper torso at a 90 degree angle (your back is completely vertical).
- Pull the handle to your mid section. Keep the handles low, your elbows at your side and avoid pulling your shoulders upwards.
- Return slowly to the starting position avoiding your shoulders rounding forward.
Complete 8-12 reps.
- Lie on your stomach.
- Position your hands on the floor a few inches beside your shoulder. Make sure that your elbows are directly over top or to the inside of your wrists.
- Keep your abdominals contracted and your back in its neutral position.
- Now slowly push up and slowly lower down to the starting position.
- Relax for a few seconds.
- Do it again.
Perform 8-15 repetitions. (Placing your hands on an incline like a bench, step or wall, will provide a more gentle entry level option also). Advanced – Perform the same exercise as above but now from your toes.
Yours in health & fitness,
Join us for the Couve Clover Run – 3, 7 & 10 miles March 20 @ 9:00am! Celebrate in your festive green while running or walking along an extremely fast and scenic course to support local charities.