Summer’s upon us, and warmer days and nights mean you’ll be breaking out those short-sleeved or sleeveless tank tops and dresses. If your upper arms aren’t looking quite as toned or trim as you’d like, you’re not alone: Wobbly upper arms are a common complaint among women 50 and older.
The culprit is often weak or untoned triceps, the muscles that run along the sides and backs of your upper arms. Adding to the issue is that some women are genetically prone to adding fat to their upper arms.
That’s the bad news. The good is that these muscles are relatively easy to target. Do these exercises two to three times a week, and you’ll start seeing summer-ready arms in just three to four weeks.
Start with eight to 12 repetitions (reps) of each exercise, using a dumbbell heavy enough to make the last few reps challenging. For the best results start with one set the first week, two sets the second week, and three sets thereafter.
Stand holding dumbbells at your sides, and bend forward at the waist to bring your torso parallel to the ground as you bend your elbows to 90-degree angles so that the dumbbells are by your hips. Keeping your arms close to your body, extend them until they’re straight but without locking your elbows; pause briefly and bend your arms to bring them back to 90-degree angles again. That’s one rep; do eight to 12.
Sit on the edge of a weight bench (or sturdy chair) with your legs extended in front of you. Hold the edge of the bench with your knuckles facing forward and extend your arms to lift your butt off of the bench before lowering it a few inches and then pushing back up, keeping your butt close to the bench to avoid straining your shoulders. That’s one rep. (Too difficult? Bring your feet closer in to the bench to make the move easier.) Do eight to 12 reps.
Triceps Overhead Extensions
Stand with a dumbbell in both hands, holding the dumbbell over your head, with your hands gripping the outsides of the ends. Keeping your elbows above your shoulders (don’t let them flare out), bend your elbows to bring the dumbbell behind your head; pause for a moment and then extend all the way back up to bring the dumbbell back over your head. That’s one rep; do eight to 12.
You use your biceps all the time for everyday activities, but this move will help you tone the muscles in the front of your arms and help reduce saggy skin above your elbows. Stand with dumbbells at your sides, palms facing up; bend your elbows to bring the dumbbells toward your shoulders. Extend your arms all the way back down. That’s one rep; do eight to 12.
The backup plan
Workouts can only do so much. If you’re still feeling less than confident, give these tricks a try:
- Layer your tank or sleeveless top with a lightweight shrug.
- Choose a loose, breezy long-sleeved top or a sheer peasant-style blouse for some coverage.
- Drink plenty of water; well-hydrated skin looks smoother and more supple.
- Moisturize your arms with skin-firming lotion before you head out.