I have just turned 60. Although I am fairly fit and slim, I hate my upper arms. They have bat wings and the fronts look droopy and wobbly. I have tried exercises to tone them, but I give up after a few days as I don’t really know if it is the right exercise, and how many to do at one go, or how often to do them. Can you advise?
As we age, we lose some of the fat the body stores just under the skin, causing that flabby, saggy look. Targeted weight training, which builds muscle tone, can give your arms shape and offset the flabbiness. Here are some exercises. You need to follow the rules, though, and give it three to six months for results.
Do these three times a week, but always leave 48 hours between sessions for muscle recovery.
Get the weights right. Too heavy and you risk injury, too light and you won’t get results. Use everyday objects (bottles of water, bags of sugar or cans) to test your current strength and help you decide which dumb-bell (hand-held) weights to use. The correct weight will allow you to do the exercise with a slow, steady movement but without rest until you’ve repeated it at least 10 but no more than 15 times.
By the last repeat your muscle should feel tired and a bit achy and as though it will only let you do one more before it gives up. If you reach 15 repeats without that feeling, the weight is too light. The right weight will vary for each exercise, so don’t just rely on one pair of dumb-bells.
Do all the exercises once, then repeat the lot. As your muscles strengthen, add a couple more repeats, until you reach 20. After six weeks, if you can do 20 with ease, increase the weight by 0.5 or 1kg.
1. Shoulder press: sit on edge of a kitchen chair with lower abs pulled in. Hold dumbells, palms forwards, by your shoulders. Push the weights up (not leaning back), until your arms are straight in the air. Bring them down again slowly and smoothly to shoulder level and repeat. Click here for the full exercise
2. Box press-ups: kneel on all fours, knees under hips and wrists under shoulders. Suck up your navel and lower your body down to the floor by bending your elbows outwards, until your nose nearly touches the ground. Press your hands into the ground and push, slowly straightening your arms again, to bring your body back to the start. Click here for the full exercise
3. Bicep curl: standing with feet under shoulders and lower abs pulled in, hold dumb-bells down by your sides, palms forwards. Keeping your elbows firmly by your sides, slowly close up your arms, bringing the dumb-bells up until they nearly touch your shoulders. Slowly open your arm down again and repeat. Click here for the full exercise
4. Dips: perch on the edge of a low bench with legs hip-width apart, knees bent and feet forwards, heels under knees. Place your hands on bench beside you with finger tips over the edge. Shift your bottom forwards until it is off the bench, so you are supported on your arms. Lower your bum down towards the floor, bending at the elbow. Stop short of the ground and push down with your arms to raise your body back up. Without sitting back on the bench, repeat the move. Click here for the full exercise.