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We've been waiting since May to swaddle ourselves in more layers than a mille-feuille, but that doesn't mean "out of sight, out of mind" for those limbs giving our cashmere sleeves shape.
To ensure the adjective "baggy" only applies to our sweaters this season, we consulted four fitness experts who kindly provided nine easy exercises that require nothing more than some room and a bit of motivation. Whether you break out these moves at the gym or during an episode of Scandal, just try them—so you feel more confident baring your arms in a jaw-dropping dress or just knowing they're there, defined and taut, under your cozy oversized knit.
Exercise 1: Down Dog, Plank Walking, and Turbo Dog sequence
"My favorite quick arm-toning workout for any level involves three simple poses. This sequence is meant to be a fast but intense workout for your arms you can do daily in just three minutes."—Tiffany Cruikshank, internationally renowned yoga instructor, educator, and founder of Yoga Medicine
1. "For beginners, simply stay in down dog and breath for 30–60 seconds. For more of a challenge, lift one leg up, then hop and switch legs. The key to this is to keep the shoulders stabilized by hugging them down into the sockets—shoulder blades away from the ears—then leaning a little weight toward the hands. These are just small hops back and forth to get the heart rate up and tone the arms." (Repeat for 30-60 seconds.)
2. "Step into plank and continue hugging the shoulders into the sockets as you keep the core engaged by drawing your front ribs back toward your spine. For beginners, simply stay in plank and breath for 30–60 seconds. For more intensity, maintain the core and shoulder support and place one forearm on the floor then the other. Next, place one hand back on the floor, then the other to bring you back into plank. Move the torso and hips as little as possible, which will require good core strength in addition to the arm work you're doing." (Repeat for 30–60 seconds.)
3. "Come into tabletop position with the wrists under the shoulders and the knees under the hips. Keeping the core engaged, start bending your elbows. For beginners, just bend them an inch. For more intensity, bend the elbows more so your elbows are a few inches from the floor. The key to this one is to keep hugging the elbows in like you're holding a beach ball between them. Next, lean your hips toward your heels, slowly lift your knees, and bring your hips and legs into down dog as you keep your elbows bent." (Hold for 30–60 seconds then rest.)
Exercise 2: Lateral Shuffle Pushup
"Target your chest, shoulders, triceps, and abs with this spin on a regular pushup."—Danielle Hopkins, Equinox Printing House Group Fitness Manager
1. Start in a standard pushup position with your spine long and flat, shoulders placed directly over your wrists.
2. Perform one traditional pushup and return to a high plank.
3. Then, side-step both your arms and feet a few inches to the right and repeat the pushup.
4. Continue for a total of 3 reps to the right and 3 to the left. (Repeat twice, rest, and cycle through again.)
Exercise 3: Iron Triceps
"You can do this at home using your sofa, your bed, a bath that's bolted securely, or in the park using a bench."—Valerie Orsoni, health and wellness expert, author, founder of LEBOOTCAMP
1. Stand with your back facing the seat or support. Place your hands behind you on the seat, hip-distance apart, and face forward.
2. Walk your legs forward until they are at a 90-degree angle. Keeping your back straight, use the force in your triceps to lower your body until your bum is just below knee level. Do not let your body drop too far.
3. Slowly lift your body back up to its original position, controlling your triceps as you do so. Do not bounce. Try and maintain full control throughout.
Beginners: 2 sets of 10 reps; 15-second rest between series
Intermediate: 2 sets of 25 reps; 15-second rest between series
Advanced: 3 sets of 50 reps, 15-second rest between series
Exercise 4: Downward Dog Pushup—Brooke Marrone, president and founder of Brooke Marrone training studio
1. On all fours, place your hands directly under your shoulders and your knees shoulder-width apart directly under the hips.
2. Tuck your toes under, and lift your hips into a downward dog position.
3. Next, bend your elbows out to the side and lower the top of your head to the floor making sure to not bring your hands out too far in front of you.
4. Push back up to straight arm downward dog. (Repeat 10 times.)
Exercise 5: Sea Star
"You can do this at home during commercials or in the grass at a park. This exercise will tone your forearm as you press to balance your body, your biceps and triceps to hold your body up in the air, your shoulders, and your core. If you lift the upper leg like I'm doing, you'll also strengthen your abductors."—Valerie Orsoni, health and wellness expert, author, founder of LEBOOTCAMP
1. Start on your side, body straight.
2. As you lift your bum, keep your back straight, abs contracted, and legs long.
3. Make sure you don't collapse on your shoulder. Press on your forearm to help stabilize the pose.
4. If you feel comfortable, lift your upper leg in the air.
Beginners: Keep pose for 15 seconds and repeat on other side
Intermediate: Keep pose for 30 seconds, repeat on other side, 30-second rest, then repeat
Advanced: Keep pose for 30 seconds while moving the upper leg up and down; repeat on other side 4 times
Exercise 6: Plank Jacks—Brooke Marrone, president and founder of Brooke Marrone training studio
1. Begin in plank position with your shoulders over your wrists, your feet together, and maintaining a straight line from your head to your toes.
2. Keeping your body as still as you can and trying not to pop your butt, jump your legs wide and then back together. (Repeat 25 times.)
Exercise 7: Rotating Plank—Dempsey Marks, fitness trainer, yoga instructor, and founder of DempseyFIT.com
1. Begin in a plank position, stacking your shoulders above your wrists.
2. Keep your neck long, gazing about 6 inches in front of your hands.
3. Engage your core and rotate your torso to the left, reaching your left arm up to the sky, pivoting on the balls of your feet.
4. Pause briefly and return to the starting position. (Complete 8 repetitions on each side.)
Exercise 8: High-Low Plank—Brooke Marrone, president and founder of Brooke Marrone training studio
1. Start in low plank with your feet shoulder-width apart, your elbows directly under your shoulders, and your body in a straight line from your head to your toes.
2. Lift to a high plank by pushing yourself up with your right hand, then your left, bringing your arms straight and trying to keep your body as still as you can.
3. Come back down to low plank leading with the same arm.
4. Repeat, alternating arms and leading with your right. (Repeat 5 times each side.)
Modification: Hold low plank for 10 seconds, drop your knees, then hold high plank for 10 seconds. (Repeat 5 times.)
Exercise 9: Tricep Pushup—Dempsey Marks, fitness trainer, yoga instructor, and founder of DempseyFIT.com
1. Begin in a plank position. Be sure your hands are directly under your shoulders.
2. Lower your knees to the ground. Your body should be a straight line from the crown of your head to your knees
3. Draw your belly button to your spine and slowly lower into a pushup, keeping your elbows squeezing into your ribs. (Your elbows should be pointing straight back!)
4. Slowly return to the starting position. (Complete 8–10 repetitions.)
Exercise 10: Shoulder Blaster—Dempsey Marks, fitness trainer, yoga instructor, and founder of DempseyFIT.com
1. Begin standing with your feet shoulder-distance apart, and make fists with your hands.
2. Simultaneously lift your right arm out to the side and your left arm in front of you. Keep your arms straight.
3. Pause when your arms reach shoulder height. Hold for 3–5 seconds before slowly returning to the starting position.
4. Repeat on the other side. (Complete 8 holds on each side.)
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