Michelle Obama has made headlines in the fitness world not just because of her healthy kids initiative, Let’s Move!, but also because of her amazingly toned arms. From the moment she began showing off her shoulders, celebrities and everyday women became committed to incorporating some of the First Lady’s strengthening secrets into their own workout routines.
But while the buzz over her biceps may have faded in the last few years, you should still be dedicated to working out your arms, shoulders and back. Not only will you find it easier to do daily tasks like carry groceries, but you’ll also feel more confident in your clothes! Instead of sticking with traditional push-ups and planks, decide that 2014 is the year you’ll upgrade your upper body workout. These four exercises don’t isolate one muscle, instead they work your total upper body all at once, helping you get toned faster and burn more calories.
Do these four moves in order with little to no rest in between the moves:
Roll-the-Ball with Uneven Pushup
Best for: Full upper-body strengthening
Need: A medicine ball
Get in plank position (feet and hands on the floor, legs and arms straight, with your body in a straight line and your weight on your palms and the balls of your feet). Place your right hand on the medicine ball, keeping left hand on the floor. Lower your body toward the floor, keeping elbows near the torso, like a traditional push-up. Raise your body back to plank position and roll the ball over to your left hand. Do 5 push-ups on each side, alternating sides.
Best for: Reducing “bat wings”
Need: 5-lb weights
Lie on your back with your knees bent and a weight in each hand. Reach both weights above your head, keeping them a few inches off the floor. Keeping arms straight, slowly raise your right hand over your chest until arm points directly at ceiling. Slowly lower back above your head. Repeat for 15 reps and switch to your left arm. Do 2 to 3 sets on each side.
Kick-back with a Twist
Best for: Killer triceps
Need: 5-lb weights
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, legs slightly bent. Bend at the waist and lower your chest to be parallel to the floor. Raise your elbows until your upper arms are even with your back. Your elbows should make a 45-degree angle with your palms facing each other. Keeping your upper arms still, extend your arms behind you until they’re straight. Once extended, rotate wrists so your palms are facing up. Rotate wrists back to facing each other and return to start. Do 3 sets of 15 reps.
Best for: Stronger shoulders and back
Need: 5-lb weight
Begin in a modified side-plank position, where you’re resting on your left hip and leaning on left elbow and forearm with your legs bent and stacked. Hold the weight in your right hand, with your arm bent and the weight resting near your shoulder. Lift hips, creating a straight line from your knees to your shoulders, and extend your right arm, pressing the weight toward the ceiling. Return to start and repeat 3 to 5 times on left side. Switch and repeat on right side.
Photo credit: Kenny Holston 21