Saturday, June 27, 2009

Tank Top Arms

I am excited to share with you a fabulous workout from Kristi a certified personal trainer / group fitness instructor, and full time fitness addict to help you get ready for tank top season.

Tank Top Arms

Unlike a lower body workout, I like to isolate the upper body by working it in sections. For example, one day I may work shoulders, biceps, and triceps, and another back and chest. This way you are not working the same muscle groups two days in a row. (Of course, you can't completely isolate each muscle group, so there will be some overlap.) So we'll break the upper body workouts into one primary muscle group at time. Today: shoulders.
For these exercises you'll need 3-5lb dumbbells. When working the shoulders I like high reps and low weight. It encourages proper form while reducing potential for injury; it also really burns and fatigues the muscle. The only way to see real results is to break the muscle fibers down, then rest for a day or so to recover, and repeat. Women tend to be weaker in the shoulders, but we all want those beautifully sculpted shoulders when we wear those tank tops and strapless dresses. Because the shoulder has 3 parts: the front, middle, and rear deltoids - you want to do exercises that target all three.
I encourage you to start with the 5lb dumbbell and when it gets too hard, switch, and finish with the 3lb dumbbells. But push yourself, and don't switch too soon.

1. Front shoulder raise into a lateral shoulder raise (this exercise primarily works the front and middle deltoids).
Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Hold the weights down with palms facing the thighs. Slowly raise the dumbbells to shoulder level, arms straight with a slight bend in the elbow, then slowly lower the weights back down to your thighs. Next, feet still shoulder width apart, bring the weights to your side, lift the weights up and out to the side, just slightly higher than shoulder level, then slowly lower the weights back down to your side, and go into a front shoulder raise again followed by another lateral raise. Continue this pattern for 16 reps, rest, then repeat, but this time using only 1 arm, alternating, to a 2 count raise and hold on the second count slowly lower it down. Both arms count as one rep for a total of 16 per exercise.

2. Overhead shoulder press with squat. 5lb dumbbell or heavier if you are experienced (working shoulders, glutes, and quads)
Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Bending the legs at the knees and hips, lowering the torso between the legs, and then reversing the direction to stand up again. The important thing to remember when doing a squat is to keep the chest high, shoulders back, sit the butt low, like your are sitting in a chair, and make sure your knees do not extend past the toes. As you go down into the squat, you will go into an overhead shoulder press. An overhead shoulder press is done by positioning the dumbbells to each side of the shoulders with elbows below the wrist. Press the dumbbells up until arms are extended and locked overhead, slowly lower. Remember as your squat you will go right into a shoulder press. Try to get as low as you can. If you can, try to see if your elbows can touch your thighs as you go into a squat. This exercise will get very challenging, b/c it is considered a power move, meaning it works multiple muscle groups requiring more strength and endurance. Do this exercise 16 times, rest and repeat.

3. Shoulder arm circles- 3lb dumbbells
Standing with feet shoulder width apart extend the dumbbells up and out to the side. Once the weights are up and out to the side, start moving the arms forward in a small circular motion. Do 10 forward, then 10 reverse. Slowly bring the weights down to your side again. Now, without rest, bring the dumbbells together in front of your body and extend the weights out to the side and up overhead making a full circle, dumbbells touching at the top, and bring them back down the same way they came up. Do this for 10. Rest for a moment and repeat.

These three exercises are sure to burn your shoulder muscles. There are many different shoulder exercises you can do, but these are my favorite. If you have any questions or comments I would love to hear them. Leave a comment here of pop over to my website at

Stay Strong,


  1. Great exercises! The descriptions are really thorough. Thanks :D

  2. this is awesome - thanks for sharing! I'm always looking for some way to work my guns (or lack of..) :)

  3. thanks for the exercises! I need to start toning my arms more for my summer dresses and shirts

  4. oh fantastic thanks for sharing! I have been doing a lot of machine weights to get the good out of my gym membership, but will be doing more at home so these are great!

  5. These are great exercises! Thanks!

    And I hope Vegas is treating you well :-)

  6. Kristi ~ Thanks for the amazing arms post that we all can use!

    Anne ~ She did a great job at describing them with no pictures needed!

    Jenny ~ You are too cute - we all have "guns" no matter how big or small.

    Julie ~ Me too!

    RuntoFinish ~ I agree - I like having balance in gym and home workouts.

    C.G. ~ Vegas treated me well - it was fun!