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Tips and Tricks for Lovely Arms
Written by Cara Thien   

Summertime means time to tone up your arms!

photo of cara thien

Summer is almost here, and in just a few short weeks the warm sunshine will give us the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors and participate in a variety of activities that only the summer season can inspire! No matter what your plans, your wardrobe is likely going to include shorts, tank tops, bathing suits, sundresses or evening wear. We have a few weeks to put it all together so we can walk into the season feeling confident and exhilarated about our bodies. We want to conquer those special occasions with finesse and style. It does not matter how old you are, what size you are, or what body type you are, you can jump right in and make those changes in a short period of time with the right guidance.

In the fitness industry, we have a toolbox that we rely on to help you. I look at overall balance for my clients. Here are my tips and tricks for lean, toned arms to help you feel great this summer!

Weight Train for Lovely Arms

women lifting weights

I suggest weight training at least three times a week and at this point in the year, I have my clients hitting upper body twice a week to create full shoulders and arms that appear toned and defined. Well-developed shoulders not only give you the necessary strength to perform simple everyday tasks, they provide a toned appearance with better posture and minimize the size of your hips. Select weights that will suit the number of reps you will do, and follow the chart below.

Exercise Sets
Incline Chest Press 4
DB Curl 4
Military Press 3
Jump Squat 3
10 - 20
Lateral Strip 3
Jumping Jacks 3
Gymnast Front Raise 4
Double DB Kickback 4
Bent Over Lat Raise 3
Burpee 3

Many of these exercises are probably familiar to you; here’s how to perform the exercises you may not be familiar with:

military press position

  • Military press: Sit on the bench, keeping your core tight. Start with the dumbbells in your hands and raise your arms so that your hands are on opposite sides of your head, elbows bent at 90° angles and in line with your shoulders. With palms facing forward, raise your arms overhead without straightening them out completely. Hold for a second, then slowly return to the starting position. Repeat.
  • Gymnast front raise: Standing with knees slightly bent, press back to the wall and contract your core. With a dumbbell placed firmly in each hand, raise both arms at the same time overhead.
  • Lateral strip set: Seated on a bench with your arms at your side, palms facing your legs, contract your core, squeeze your shoulder and lift your arm out to the side until it is parallel to the floor, remembering not to stiffen your elbow.lateral strip set positionFor optimal results, choose a weight that you are only able to lift for 10, then decrease the weight and continue until you cannot go anymore, exhausting the muscles and move on to yet a lower weight and finish. Always pause at the top before slowly returning to the starting position, and remember, once you have lost good form, it is time to move to a lower weight.

bent over lat raise starting position

  • Bent over lat raise: Seated on a bench, bend over at the waist with your feet shoulder width apart. Keep a slight bend in the knees to prevent strain on the lower back. Hold the dumbbells at arm’s length in front of you with the palms of your hands facing each other. Keep a slight bend in your elbows. Using your upper back strength, raise the dumbbells to the back and upwards in a semicircular arc as far as you can. Hold this position for a second to maximize the peak contraction in the rear deltoids. bent over lat raise finishing positionLower the dumbbells back to the starting position. Most people usually do not use their rear deltoids on a day-to-day basis. Use this exercise to build. Choose a weight that can challenge you to just make 10 reps.
  • Lateral raise on an incline bench: This is similar to the previous versions of the Bent Over Lateral Raise except you lay chest down on an incline bench. This isolates the rear deltoids more and you will not be able to use as much weight as with the previous version.

Hydration, Nutrition and Cardio

Another key element in any fitness program is hydration. Your body is 60 percent water and, to perform adequately, requires hydration at a cellular level at all times. This will also decrease bloating or feeling puffy if done correctly. I suggest you begin your day with 500 ml of water as soon as you wake up and continue drinking water evenly throughout the day. I’ve seen this simple step change clients’ bodies dramatically in a few days. We have even seen clients reduce a whole pant size from even hydration.

My next tip is nutrition. This is critical and will likely have the most impact on your body in the shortest amount of time. We suggest that you eat small meals, six times a day with the correct ratios for your daily regimen. Be consistent, eat clean and watch the change!

Finally, the never-ending question: how much cardio should you do? I suggest you weight train first and follow up with your cardio regimen. This alone will start to tighten the skin and help the definition appear in your arms. It won’t take long to see great results just in time for summer!

Cara Thien -

Cara Thien is an elite personal trainer, competitive fitness coach and sports nutrition advisor. An IFBB national level competitor, Cara is a sponsored figure and fitness athlete who wins events in both Canada and the USA. She has overcome many challenges as she pushes herself to reach her dreams while inspiring others to do the same.