The dreaded Bingo wings, dinner lady arms (no offence to dinner ladies), bat wings….whatever you want to call them, most ladies hate them. With summer coming and the time to ditch the jumpers and break out the T-Shirts, summer dresses and even the Bikini’s upon us, many women look in the mirror and sigh discontentedly at the site of those “soft”, flabby and sometimes even saggy bits. It’s not just the backs of your arms, it’s your bum, your thighs, your belly and your waist…….aaaargghhh!!!
Well don’t panic you CAN do something about all of these problems and right now. Mid March gives you time to do something about all of these areas before we properly hit Summer in June.
Firstly, without wanting to sound like a broken record, you all know that what you eat and drink, your diet and nutrition generally is going to play a big part. This isn’t a diet article so i won’t bang on about it but if you can eat cleaner, cut out the processed crap, cut back on sugar, drink less alcohol and ideally also do some cardio based work then you are going to start to lose fat from all of those wobbly areas listed above that you hate.
However in this blog I’m going to focus on what exercises you can do to tone, firm up and add some tightness or even a bit of muscle to those soft bits. First an honesty alert. This is going to take some work. Not necessarily a huge amount of time, 20 to 30 minutes a day will do the job but during that 20 minutes you HAVE to work hard and it will be sore. No pain no gain is a cliché but it’s also true……Right, ready? Here we go.
Baggy Arms: Most women don’t spend much time in everyday life using their Tricep muscles which is the muscle that runs down the back of your upper arm. It is the muscle that extends your arm from a bent to straight position and are also the muscles you use when pushing things away from your body. It is this muscle that you need to work hard and tone up to avoid having baggy, saggy arms. So logically any exercises that involves pushing or better still straightening of your arm against resistance will work this muscle. Here are three you can do at home with no equipment.
Lady push ups: The push up or press up is a great Tricep exercise IF you do it right. The trick is to keep your hands no more than shoulder width apart and as you go down towards the floor keep your elbows tucked in close to your side. Aim for 3 sets of 8.
Chair Tricep Dips: Another great exercise for really isolating the backs of those arms. Initially start with the easy version which means your feet will be quite close to you. Make it harder by gradually moving your feet further away as you get stronger. Also be careful not to come down past a 90 degree bend in your arm or you may damage your shoulder. Aim for 3 sets of 12.
Overhead Tricep extension: This is a brilliant exercise that really stretches and tones your Tricep muscle. If you have access to some weights (At home or gym) just use a light dumbbell initially (maybe 1.5 or 2kg) If you don’t have access to a dumbbell then a bottle of water (500ml, 750ml or even 1 litre) will do the job to start with. Aim for 3 sets of 12 reps. Each day pick 2 of the exercises and do the number of sets listed. Keep rest time between sets fairly low (max 1 minute). It should only take 6/8 minutes total.
Now for your thighs and bum!! Waheey, everyone wants great thighs and a shapely backside don’t they? Again though it’s not easy, your diet is very important but you also have to work hard. Your Quads (front of leg), Hamstrings (back of leg) and Glutes (backside) are some of the biggest muscles in the body and as a result need to be worked hard to change them.
Lunges: There are a number of different variations of the lunge, all of which work a slightly different part of your thighs and backside. Therefore I’d recommend doing a different one each day and rotate them. Initially start without any weight until you feel comfortable and can control the movements. Then as you get stronger add in some weight, but don’t go too heavy. It’s more important to go low when you dip down and really squeeze the muscles as you push back up. Start with 3 sets of 12 (6 on each leg) and work up to 3 sets of 20.
Squats: As with lunges there are many different variations, both with and without weights. To really strengthen and tone your legs you will need to use some weight at some point. However, initially you can do a perfectly good job just with body weight. Again try to use some of the different variations and change each day to work different parts of the leg and backside. Keep your back straight, chest up and head & eyes looking ahead and up. Push your butt backwards and lower it towards the floor, do not lean forward and topple over your feet. If using bodyweight do 3 sets of 12 to 15. If you progress to using some weights do 3 x 8/10.
Hip Thrusters/Glute Bridge: Hip thrusters or the Glute bridge as it is sometimes called is an excellent exercise for toning, firming and shaping your bum. Again it needs to be done correctly and the key thing here is to really focus on squeezing and engaging your Glute or Bum muscles as you push up and at the top of the exercise. Go for 4 sets of 15/16 when using both legs and 3 sets each side of 7/8 when just using one leg. Again i would choose 2 of these exercises to do each day and again it should take less than 10 minutes.
Finally lets get to your stomach and core. The truth of the matter (yes i know the truth hurts) is that if you are carrying a fair amount of excess weight and have a very flabby stomach and waist area it is pretty hard to really tone and shape it without losing some of that weight first. However you can do core and stomach exercises that will pull in and tighten your abdominal and core muscles underneath the soft tissue and simply by pulling you tighter it will give the illusion of having lost a couple of inches.
The Plank: The king of core exercises. Again there are loads of variation and the video shows a few that are all great for women and will work your entire core, ab and waist area. Initially just focus on the plain front plank until you gain some strength and then after a week or so try some of the variations. Everyone’s core strength varies but initially aim for 4 sets of 20 seconds at a time (with only 30/40 seconds rest in between). If that is too hard just do 15 seconds but the aim should be to get up to 45 seconds+ to really make it work. Concentrate on really squeezing everything tightly, your stomach, thighs and butt in particular.
The Hip Lift: This works deep core muscles and lower stomach muscles. Concentrate on keeping your legs straight above and thrusting upwards with your pelvis and lower stomach. If it helps you can slightly place your hands under the edge of your bum/thighs to support yourself. Aim for 3 sets of 10 with 40 seconds rest in between.
Russian Twists: I’ve no idea why they are called that, invented by a Russian i guess. Initially start off doing this without a weight, but again as you get stronger add some weight in. Either use a small dumbbell, a kettle bell or even just a 2 litre bottle of water. Aim for 3 sets of 8 on each side. Concentrate on keeping your feet raised just off the floor and lean very slightly back with your torso which places tension on your abs and core. As with the above choose two exercises each day and rotate them. Again this should only take 7 or 8 minutes tops. With Ab exercises try to keep rest between sets minimal for maximum effect.
That’s it ladies. 20 to 30 minutes each day and believe me in two months you will really notice the difference. Your wobbly arms will be firmer and leaner. Your upper legs and bum will definitely be tighter and shapelier and your waist and midriff will have been pulled in ad you will look slimmer. The key here is hard work. You need to push yourself. As you get better either increase the number of sets and reps or add in some more weight. Just doing the same thing day after day and not improving will halt your progress.