First, a starting point. I encourage you to take a measurement of your left (or right, whichever you prefer, but stick with that arm for measurements) upper arm before you begin. Take a tape measure and run it around your bicep, about halfway between your shoulder and elbow. Do this on naked skin (no sleeves) and don't pull the tape measure super tight. My hanging flab is squishy enough to pack it into a smaller space (like a sleeve) so I could get several different measurements if I wasn't consistent. So I try to put the tape measure against the skin with my arm out to the side as in the first picture below, without squishing it upward. Whatever way you measure, be consistent. You'll want to write down your arm measurement and check it again every month or so. My measurement this morning was 15.5 inches.
Pictures, which I hate posting but hey, this is reality...
And this is what I get when I put my hand on my hip...
and no, the general lumpiness of my body under that tee shirt does not escape me. That's what an extra 18 pounds will do. When I put on a better shirt (i.e., looser and thicker fabric) I still look pretty good with a defined waist, but the arms ruin it for me. This is why I am still in sleeves in 80 degree weather.
So... with that negative bit out of the way, here is my routine for improving the arms. Feel free to join me, with or without progress pictures on your blog or in the privacy of your home. I would love to see your results!
Every day I will be doing the following exercises using hand weights/dumbbells. I will start with 5 pounds and increase as my strength builds. The goal is to be able to do 12 to 15 repetitions of each exercise, two times. Each "set" of 12-15 reps should have a short rest in between, maybe a minute or so. If it is super easy for you to do 12-15 reps, you need to add more weight (say, 8 or 10 pound dumbbells). This whole routine should take 15-20 minutes. You can get results doing this twice a week, but three times a week is better. I am aiming for Mon-Weds-Fri. I plan to update every Wednesday how I am doing (Workout Wednesday!)
Wall push-ups (you just do push-ups by leaning against a wall instead of on the floor. Then when this is easy, progress to using the edge of a kitchen counter, then eventually use the floor)
Bent over rows
Overhead triceps extensions
Wrist curls and reverse curls
That's it! Simple. If you don't know what some of these exercises are, they are easy to find by Googling them. You can find videos on youtube for good form for each exercise. It only takes a few minutes to learn to do these... a small investment of your time! Give it a try!
I am also adding crunches because I want to build some core strength.
This has nothing to do with arms, but I am also going to restart my physical therapy exercises for my knees and hips. There are a LOT of them, in fact, so many that it was starting to get overwhelming to me in the end. I think I will begin with the ones they had me start with:
warm up 5 minutes on the bike or walking
wall squats with a large exercise ball behind my back
side lying leg lifts with the heel of the upper foot pressed against a wall behind me
balance on 1 foot for 60 seconds (on a mini trampoline is harder)
standing straight-leg lifts in all four directions (add resistance bands or weights as this gets easier)
calf raises (standing on one foot, push up to stand on tiptoes, then back down... hold a wall for balance)
bridges (lying on back)
one-legged squats on a 4" step (I need to find a video or image of this to show you what it is)
That's my plan, I know it is going to be a drag getting myself in the habit of doing this at first, but after just a week or so you DO feel a difference, and that big payoff from such a small time investment is enough to drive me to continue. I love feeling strong!
If you'd like to read up on strength training, try Weight Training For Dummies. It's the book I started with.
Let me know if you're in this arm thing with me. I will post results, whether they are great or not!