My Workout Routine for Toned and Defined Arms

Summer is almost here and that means it’s time for tank tops, sleeveless shirts and sundresses.  Now, I know there are a lot of people that wouldn’t be “caught dead” in a sleeveless shirt because they feel very insecure about the look of their arms. So today, I’m going to share my workout routine and some tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way that have helped me get my arms toned and defined.  The best thing is that it does not involve 3 workouts a week….not even 2….it is a once-a-week workout!

This goes against the traditional weight lifting/workout philosophy, which is to workout 3 days a week, working 2 muscle groups each time….chest/triceps, back/biceps, legs/shoulders.  But I’m here to say that I did that for years and never got the results I have now.

Lest you think I’m a couch potato the other 6 days of the week or that I neglect my legs completely, here’s an example of my entire weekly exercise routine: 

  • Walk my dog 6-7 days/week for 25-30 minutes/day
  • 30 minute arm workout at the gym on Tuesday
  • 20 minute workout on the elliptical machine at the gym Friday or Saturday

So, how can I possibly achieve results by only weight training one time per week?  Well, I combined some advice from a physical trainer to not do a bunch of cardio before weight training so that I could maximize my efforts in the weight room and embraced the concept of “muscle confusion”….changing up your workout on a regular basis to keep your muscles “confused” to avoid hitting a plateau in strength training.  Both of these concepts prompted me to come up with a whole new approach to weight training and led to my current workout routine.

Tips and tricks to getting the most out of an arm workout:
*Do each exercise slowly and with control.
*Allow only 20 seconds between sets.  It’s not social hour!  You must stay focused and quickly move between sets and exercises to help keep your heart rate up.
*Start with low amounts of weight to ensure you can fully complete the workout.  For women, I wouldn’t recommend increasing too much more than what I have listed below because the goal is NOT to bulk up but to tone and define.  If you ever feel like the workout is too easy, try slowing down each exercise and maybe adding another set of reps.
*Rotate the muscle focus groups every week.  For example:  Week 1 ~ Chest, Triceps, Biceps; Week 2 ~ Triceps, Chest, Biceps; Week 3 ~ Biceps, Triceps, Chest
*Whatever muscle group you start with each week, add one extra set or exercise for that particular muscle group.
*It is important to finish the exercises for one muscle group before moving onto the next.  This will ensure you are working that muscle group to fatigue (yes, that’s a good thing ;-).

Once-a-week Arm Workout Routine:
Listed below are the exercises I do on a weekly basis and it usually takes me about 30 minutes to complete them. I searched high and low and was able to find video links and/or diagrams to show how to perform most of the exercises. Remember to stretch before and after each workout!

Muscle Focus Group ~ Chest

  • If this is my priority muscle group of the week, I add another set of 10 reps on the incline bench or cable machine

    Muscle Focus Group ~ Triceps

    • Lay on a flat bench; using a 20 lb. barbell (or 2-10 lb. dumbbells), do the following 3 exercises in succession without a break:
    • Bench Kneeling Tricep Kick Backs – 3 sets of 10 reps, using a 5 lb. dumbbell
    • Dip Assist Machine – 3 sets of 10-12 reps, setting the machine to assist with about 1/2 my body weight
    • Pushdown with Bar or Rope – 3 sets of 10 reps, with 30-35 lbs.
    • I only do all four of these exercises when Triceps are my priority focus for the week.  Otherwise, I will skip either the Dip Assist or Pushdown exercise.

    Muscle Focus Group ~ Biceps/Shoulders/Back

    • Using 10 lb. dumbbells, do the following 4 exercises in succession without a break:
    • Using 10 lb. dumbbells, do the following 2 exercises in succession without a break:
      • Upright Row (don’t raise dumbbells any higher than your chest) – 10 reps (Tips to Avoid Injury)
      • Box Shoulder Rotation (exercise I invented…couldn’t find anything close online to link to but the empty can exercise is a great alternative)- 10 reps
      • Repeat both exercises 2 more times with a 20 second break in between each set

    You don’t have to do these exact same exercises.  It’s more important to do exercises that you are comfortable and physically capable of doing.  If you’ve never worked out at a gym before, you may consider meeting with a physical trainer to recommend/walk you through some exercises and ensure you are performing them correctly.

    I hope that was helpful and gave you some new ideas to incorporate into your workout routine!  

    Long live sleeveless shirts, tank tops and sundresses 🙂

    Disclaimer: I strongly recommend that you consult with your physician before beginning any exercise program.You should be in good physical condition and be able to participate in the exercise.  I am not a licensed medical care provider and represent that I have no expertise in diagnosing, examining, or treating medical conditions of any kind, or in determining the effect of any specific exercise on a medical condition. You should understand that when participating in any exercise or exercise program, there is the possibility of physical injury. If you engage in this exercise or exercise program, you agree that you do so at your own risk, are voluntarily participating in these activities, assume all risk of injury to yourself, and agree to release and discharge me from any and all claims or causes of action, known or unknown, arising out of my negligence.

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