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Attaining enviable bi’s and tri’s isn’t always easy. But we’ve got a tried-and-tested solution for you — and with enough options to keep the results coming week after week!
Let’s get one thing straight — getting Erin Stern–like definition isn’t as easy as doing a few curls. “For most women, it’s really hard to keep stimulating their arms,” explains Cassandra Forsythe, PhD, author of The New Rules of Lifting for Women. One reason for this is that the arms are made up of relatively small muscles, which may not respond as quickly to exercise as larger ones, such as your glutes.
But Forsythe notes that taking stock of where you feel the emphasis of a particular exercise can go a long way towards encouraging change. “The more you focus on your muscles, the more you’ll get out of each rep,” she explains. Not rushing through your reps can help solidify that mind-muscle connection — keeping a pace of two seconds up, two seconds down is a good rule of thumb.
Keep The Results Coming
Applying subtle tweaks to standard exercises creates new moves that are great for building definition — as long as you progress over each successive workout. You can do this by increasing your number of reps, piling on more weight, or reducing the length of your rest periods each week. These changes can contribute to pushing your body past its comfort zone, resulting in the inter-muscular aches that indicate the potential for growth.
We’ve made it even easier by providing you with five ways to execute these new-to-you exercises: use a different method each workout so that your arms are constantly faced with a new challenge.
Your Workout Your Way
There are oodles of ways to structure this workout. Take a look at the options below and pick one that works with how you’re feeling today. Any method, done two to three times per week, will get you the definition you are looking for in four weeks or less. For best results, aim to try a different method each workout.
Close-Grip Dumbbell Hammer Curl
Target Muscle: biceps brachii
Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold a dumbbell in each hand. Position the weights in front of you as shown, with your palms facing in and the dumbbells touching. Keeping contact between the dumbbells, slowly flex at the elbows to bring the weights towards your chest. Reverse to return to the start.
Tip: Watch that you don’t bring your elbows in front of your body, which can take away some of the emphasis from your biceps.
Preacher Curl With Incline Bench
Target Muscle: biceps brachii
Stand behind an incline bench adjusted to about 30 degrees. Hold a dumbbell in one hand and rest your arm on the bench as shown. Keeping your upper arm in contact with the bench, bend your elbow to curl the weight towards your shoulder. Slowly return to the start. When your set is through, switch sides.
Tip: Many women have elbows that can easily hyperextend, says Forsythe (she counts herself among them), which makes it difficult to raise the weight when the arm is completely straight. To prevent complications with this move, Forsythe recommends stopping before your forearm hits the bench.
One-Legged Triceps Kickback
Target Muscles: triceps brachii, leg stabilizers
Stand facing a bench, and hold a light dumbbell in your left hand. Bend forward from the hips to bring your torso parallel to the ground. Place your free hand on the bench. Extend your right leg behind you, then bend and lift your left elbow . Straighten your arm to bring the weight behind you, and slowly return to the start. Finish your set, switch sides and repeat.
Tip: If you have cat-like balance, try doing this move bilaterally, working both arms at the same time. During your next set, stand on your opposite leg.
Target Muscles: triceps brachii, pectoralis major, deltoids
Lie face up on a flat bench. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, keeping them close together over your chest as shown, with your elbows flaring out to the sides. Extend your arms until they are straight, then reverse the motion to return to the start.
Trouble getting this move down pat? Forsythe suggests swapping it for a standing overhead resistance-band extension for smoother, constant tension; perform half-rep “pulses” at the top instead of full-motion reps.