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How to get professional tennis player arms without a racket

Lisa Elaine Held

Lisa Elaine HeldSeptember 7, 2012

This weekend, the pros will hit the courts in Queens for the women’s finals at the US Open. Lots of spectators will be watching the ball. We’ll be watching…those perfectly sculpted, toned arms. And wondering what we need to do to get them. (Tennis lessons?)

“The racket is a weight by itself, and when you’re doing something repetitive like that, it will definitely build strength,” says Jason Greenspan, a highly credentialed tennis pro and personal trainer who owns Practical Fitness & Wellness in New York.

But the good news is that kick-butt serves don’t deserve all the credit. Most pros eat well, get lots of cardio, and do strength training, says Greenspan—and all of us have access to that.

Ready to build some arm muscle? Here are Greenspan’s four moves for toned arms that you can do without a tennis racket. —Lisa Elaine Held



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Greenspan likes the efficiency of combination (more than one movement) and compound (more than one muscle group) exercises, as opposed to old-school isolation moves that work one muscle at a time.

For this kind of workout, choose weights that you can complete 8–12 reps with:

If eight reps is impossible, they’re too heavy.

If 12 is easy, keep increasing the weight by a few pounds for every two more reps you can complete.

Complete these four moves back-to-back two or three times per week, with at least 24 hours in between.




triceps push-ups 1. Tricep Push-Ups

Triceps make up two thirds of the arm,” says Greenspan, so make this one count. It will also work the front of your shoulders and chest.

It should look like a traditional push-up, except that your hands are shoulder width apart or closer, and your elbows should stay close to the body the whole time. If you’re not strong enough, modify by standing at a wall, with your hands on the wall at chest height. Take two or three steps away from the wall and push yourself in and out, elbows tucked close to the body.

Complete 8–12 and then move immediately into the next exercise without a break.



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reverse fly 2. Dumbbell Reverse Fly

This will work the opposing muscles—the mid-back muscles, for shoulder stability and posture, and the back of the shoulders, which are super important for shapely arms.

Lie on a bench face down (or use a Pilates ball for added core work). Start out with light dumbbells by your side, palms facing one another. Make sure your shoulder blades are pushed down and back, and then bring your arms up and out to the side, so that your body forms a T-shape. Squeeze your shoulder blades together at the top, when your hands are at shoulder height.

After 8–12 reps, take a one minute break and then repeat exercises one and two one more time.




bent-over row 3. Bent-Over Row into Tricep Kick-Back

This combo move will work your biceps, triceps, the back of your shoulders, and the mid-back muscles.

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, abs tight, knees slightly bent. Bend over with a flat back until your back is just shy of parallel with the floor. Hold the weights at your side, palms facing each other, your elbows in line with your torso. Squeeze your shoulder blades back as you pull the weights in towards your chest, then extend your elbow back until your for forearm is parallel with the ground.

Complete 8–12 and then move immediately into the next exercise without a break.



bicep curls 4. Bicep Curl into Shoulder Press

Work your biceps, triceps, and the entire shoulder with this simple, but powerful, exercise.

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, abs tight, knees slightly bent. Hold the weights at your side with your elbows pinned to your sides. With your palms facing up, curl your arms in towards your chest. At your chest (without stopping), turn your palms away from your chest and push the weights up over your shoulders.

After 8–12 reps, take a one minute break and then repeat exercises three and four one more time.


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