Have you ever seen someone with super toned arms or shoulders and wondered how they achieved it? I am occasionally asked this question and although it takes hard work, anyone can have enviable arms if they’re committed.
Not only will toned arms and shoulders give you that sexy, athletic look, but you won’t have to ask someone else to get your suitcase down from the overhead compartment on an airplane. And when you strengthen your back and chest as well, you can reduce or eliminate common aches and pains in your shoulders and back.
Are you ready to see what it takes? Then take a look at these tips and adjust them as needed according to your own body type and history.
1. Perfect Your Diet
When you’re trying to build muscle, you need 250 to 500 more calories per day, depending on how many calories you typically burn . Paradoxically, the only way you’ll see definition in your arms is by losing any fat that is hiding muscles.
There are many approaches and theories about how to get lean while building muscle. But no matter how you approach it, you need to eat more when you’re trying to build muscle. Find a balance for what works for you and cut back on calories if you notice you’re gaining fat. And always focus on healthy, natural foods.
Experts also agree that to build muscle, you need more protein than the daily RDA of 0.36g/lb body weight. Some suggest an average of 0.7 gram/lb body weight, depending on your training regimen .
2. Give Your Arms Special Attention
You don’t have to spend hours doing bicep curls but you do need to spend more time on your arms and shoulders. If you’re a beginner, a full-body strength training workout two to three times per week is sufficient to start.
As you advance, you’ll see better results with a split routine twice a week (for example, upper body and lower body twice a week or chest/shoulders/triceps and back/biceps/lower body twice a week).
3. Do The Right Number of Exercises
For smaller muscle groups like the triceps and biceps, do two to three exercises. For shoulders you can do three or four.
4. Do the Right Exercises
To avoid muscle imbalances, hit all three heads of the triceps and deltoids. For example, for triceps, do conventional pushdowns (lateral head), reverse grip pushdowns (medial head), and overhead extensions (long head).
For shoulders, do lateral raises (lateral head), bent-over lateral raises (rear head), and overhead presses (front head). For biceps, do dumbbells curls with different variations.
5. Vary Your Workout Every Time
The best arm and shoulder development is the result of changing things up to confuse your muscles into working harder. Make a small change each time you train and a bigger change every four to six weeks.
For example, change the amount of weight; hand grip; body angle; number of repetitions; order of exercises; rest between sets; type of exercise or equipment; or tempo.
6. Track Your Workouts
If you’re changing your workouts slightly each time, it makes sense that you’ll need to keep track of what you did last time. Carry a spiral notebook or use a smart phone to record what you did.
7. Create a Killer Burn
At the end of the last set, drop the weight 20 to 30 percent and continue until failure. This technique, called drop sets, will truly give your muscles the extra burn needed to grow (but don’t use this technique for every workout or you can overtrain).
There are many other ways to shock your muscles if you’ve been lifting awhile, such as pyramids (increasing or decreasing the weight each set) and supersets (doing a set of two different exercises without rest).
8. Perform the Correct Number of Reps
The rep range that provides the best muscle growth is 8 to 12. More reps than this increases endurance and fewer reps increases strength.
9. Lift Heavy
If you aren’t fatigued by the last rep, you need to increase the resistance. Whenever you can easily do more than 10 reps, safely push yourself to increase the weight next time. Don’t worry about getting bulky; it’s challenging for most people to put on muscle.
10. Strengthen Your Forearms
I can’t stress enough how important it is to have strong forearms; otherwise, you risk hurting your elbows and wrists and your grip will not be strong enough to hold heavy weights. Perform wrist curls and static holds and use grip tools such as squeeze balls.