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FITNESS | BODY MATTERS

Double duty for the arms

December 25, 2006|Jay Blahnik | Special to The Times

I'm a woman in my 30s, and my arms are skinny. I'd like to add more tone and definition. What do you suggest?

JILL

Newport Beach

You say your arms are skinny, but many women have the opposite problem -- they feel their arms are too thick. In either case, tightening and toning the arms requires two things: strength training and cardio training. Strength training helps build the muscle, and cardio training helps reduce extra fat. Thin people might need more strength training; heavier people might need more cardio training.

For the strength training, focus on three primary exercises: a lateral raise for the shoulder, a biceps curl for the front of the arm and a triceps push-up for the back of the arm.

Lateral raise: With arms by your side (palms toward your body), hold a moderately heavy weight (with which you can do only about 8 to 12 repetitions) in each hand. Lift your arms straight out to the side to shoulder height, then slowly lower them.

Biceps curl: Holding a moderately heavy dumbbell in each hand (palms facing forward), place your arms straight at your side and bend and straighten the elbows for 8 to 12 repetitions.

Triceps push-up: Instead of performing a standard push-up, do it from your knees and bring your arms closer to the sides of your body, targeting the back of the arms.

For cardio training, I suggest 10 to 30 minutes per day of any activity you enjoy doing that makes you breathe comfortably harder than normal and works up a little sweat.

Even with these exercises, you might not get the same toned arms as someone else. The harder you work out, the better your results usually are, but don't expect to look exactly like the pictures in magazines. Everyone has a different body shape, and some people are genetically gifted in certain areas (I used to wish my arms were bigger than they are), and we will never look like they do, no matter how hard we try.

Jay Blahnik, a Laguna Beach-based personal trainer, has appeared in more than 25 videos and is the author of "Full-Body Flexibility." Although he cannot answer all questions, he can be reached at jay@jayblahnik.com or health@latimes.com.

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