There’s no greater joy in life than using the arm-flexing emoji and meaning it. And IRL, the same holds true. That’s why in strengthening your arms in the gym or at home during your sweat sesh can basically be a master class in feeling strong AF. And that doesn’t have to just mean cranking out reps with barbells. In fact, your trusty plank can give you all the support you need on your way to strengthening your arms as you light up your core.
Happily, trainers have put together the ultimate arm-torching workout for all the good vibes and fire emojis at hand. If you’re looking to get stronger this summer, then keep on scrolling for all of the best moves to implore while in everyone’s favorite plank-ready position.
1. Push-up series
“Push-ups help strengthen the chest, shoulders, biceps, triceps, and upper back, while also recruiting the core, glutes, and quads to stay strong and stable in the position,” says Pure Barre vice president of training and technique Katelyn DiGiorgio. “There are so many variations of push-ups that are modifiable for most people and it is a great move to perfect over time.”
To perform a series, she says to carefully come down to all fours and place your hands slightly wider than your shoulders. “Walk the feet back behind you, hip-width apart, and press the balls of your feet down into the floor,” she says. “Bend and press the arms (make sure to keep your core engaged), using a controlled range of motion that is manageable for you. Repeat for two sets of 10 to 12 reps.
Next, lower down to your knees and bend your heels in towards your bum. “Walk your hands in underneath the shoulders,” DiGiorgio instructs. “Bend and press the arms (make sure to keep your core engaged and keep the elbows narrow). Your range of motion may be smaller here, and that’s okay! Repeat for two sets of 10 to 12 reps. On the final rep, hold at your lowest point for a 10-second isometric hold.” Feel the burn yet?
2. High-to-low plank holds
Prefer more of a free-flowing arm workout? You’ll be glad to know that certain yoga moves (like chaturanga) can sculpt your biceps, triceps, and shoulders. Starting in a high plank, Y7 studio instructor Stephanie Wallace reminds you to put your foundation first. “Stack your shoulders over your elbows and wrists, but don’t lock your elbows,” she says. “Spread your fingers out super wide, gripping the floor, roll the weight in the hands toward the thumb and forefinger, while simultaneously rolling the interior of the elbow forward and triceps and shoulders back.” From there, keep your hips, shoulders, and head in line, and begin to slowly lower your torso just under halfway. “Keep the elbows hugging into your ribs—you should feel your ribs grazing your inner arm and elbow. Hold here for three deep breaths,” she explains. “On a slow, deep breath in, press back up into your high plank.” Repeat the process five times for a burn that feels oh-so-good.
3. Walking dolphins
Start this movement—which is one of Wallace’s faves—in a forearm plank. Stack your shoulders over your elbows and place your hands out parallel. “Keeping legs engaged and hips lifted, begin to slowly walk your feet closer to your elbows, finding a dolphin or ‘turbo dog’ (AKA pike) shape,” Wallace instructs. “Hold here, keep the head lifted but neck not strained, press into the ground to keep the lift, hold for three deep breaths.” On a slow exhale, she says to walk your feet back to a forearm plank, hold for three deep breaths and repeat the whole process five times. “Are your arms shaking yet?” she asks. Regardless of the answer (yes!), don’t forget to breathe.
4. Rolling high-low side planks
“Let’s take this on a roll,” Wallace exclaims. “Starting in your high plank, slowly come down to your right forearm and rotate your hand toward the opposite shoulder and slowly begin to roll into a forearm side plank on the right,” she instructs. To perfect the movement, come onto the outer edge of your right foot and stack the left one on top. “Make sure the shoulder is fully supported with the elbow beneath,” Wallace reminds.
From there, lift your left arm up as a natural extension of your right. Wallace says to remember to keep space in the chest and collarbone area throughout the movement, which should last for one deep breath. “On your exhale, take your left hand down to the mat, as you press up, roll onto the outer edge of your left foot and come into full side plank on the left with your right arm in the air—hold here for a deep breath in—check the stack (shoulder, elbow, wrist) and keep lifting the hips,” she instructs. Repeat on the other side.
Sure, it sounds like a lot, but once you do it a few times you’ll get the hang of it. Wallace recommends alternating from forearm side plank to full side plank for a total of five rounds on each side. Just remember: Take your time and use your breath as a guide as you keep your core engaged and hips lifted, she says.
After committing to these workouts for a few weeks, you’ll want to treat yourself for your hard work. And what better way to do so than with a new knotted tank top? While you’re at it, remember to protect your skin as you show it off with sunscreens that feel like skin care.
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