Maintain beautifully toned arms anywhere

Toned arms

It’s easy to get lazy on holiday when you’re away from your gym. While I generally find time for a short run or cycle, I tend to ignore my upper body. It’s disturbing how quickly one loses strength and tone in this area!

With the August holidays coming up for many schools, I’ve put together a short 20-minute workout that will help you maintain upper body strength and tone so you can confidently wear those short sleeves. Think Michelle Obama for inspiration.

Of course, you can just as easily do these exercises at home if you are not a member of a gym or don’t have time to go to one.

Focus on maintaining good posture and form – the better you execute the better the results!

Warm-up: 5 minutes

Take 5 minutes to warm up. I start with some high knee walking swinging my arms; then move to jumping jacks, cross-over jacks, some boxing punch sequences (jabs, uppercuts, cross jabs) and finish off with forward and backwards slow, big arm and shoulder circles. 


Perform 1 set of 10.


Begin in a standing position.

Bend over and place your hands on the floor keeping your knees as straight as possible.

Start walking your hands forward slowly, alternating your left and your right. Bend only at the hip, keeping your legs straight.

Keep going until your body is parallel to the ground in a plank position.

Hold for 5 seconds and walk your hands back to your feet.


Super-set 1

Perform all 3 exercises back to back without resting. Rest then repeat the super-set twice more for a total of 3 sets.

A. Plank with shoulder taps: x10/side

Begin in a wide-leg plank position.

Lift left hand and tap right shoulder.

Return to start position.

Lift right hand and tap left shoulder.

Return to start position and repeat.

B. Push-ups: x20

Do a normal shoulder width push-up with feet slightly apart. Be sure to keep a straight line from head to heals. Maintain a strong core and don’t drop the hips or head.

Modify and drop onto your knees if you need to.

C. Lower back hyper-extension: 15 Seconds

Lie flat with arms bent at shoulder height as pictured in A.

Lift arms and chest off floor and hold in that position (B) for 15 seconds.


Sit back into a child’s pose (for 10-15 seconds) and repeat the superset twice more.


Super-set 2

Perform all 3 exercises back to back without resting. Rest then repeat the super-set twice more for a total of 3 sets.

A. Plank ups

Start in a straight-arm plank position

Drop onto your right elbow.

Drop onto your left elbow so you’re in a plank on both elbows.

Return to a straight-arm plank by first pushing-up onto your right hand and then left hand.

Repeat another 4x dropping onto your right-hand side first.

Hold plank for 10 seconds.

Switch sides and drop onto your left side first 5x.

B. Tricep push-ups on knees: x10-15

Begin in a kneeling plank position with hands closer than shoulder-width apart. Elbows tucked into sides.

Lower your chest toward the floor while keeping your upper arms parallel to your sides and your elbows pointing straight back.

Exhale and slowly push back to start position keeping your arms close to your body and elbows back.

C. Single-leg tricep dips: x 10/side

Sit with your knees bent and feet together. Place your hands behind you, fingers pointing forward. Lift your hips off the mat and raise your right leg.

Bending your elbows, lower your body to the matt so that your butt almost touches it. Extend your arms and lift your butt returning to the start position.

Repeat 10 times before switching legs for 10 more dips.


Ab and oblique superset

Perform all 3 exercises back to back without resting. Rest then repeat the super-set twice more for a total of 3 sets.

A. Criss-cross or bicycle crunches: x10

Lie face-up on floor with elbows bent out to sides at shoulder level, hands touching behind ears, knees bent, feet flat.

Crunch up, lifting feet off floor, and rotate torso toward right as you bring right knee into chest; simultaneously extending and straightening left leg at a 45-degree angle.

Keeping torso and legs lifted, switch sides and repeat to complete 1 rep.

Do 10 reps.

B. Pilates roll-ups: x10 More ab flattening than a typical crunch.

Lie face-up on floor with arms extended straight out above head, palms facing ceiling.

Engaging abs, raise arms overhead, and slowly curl up, lifting shoulders and then torso off floor. Hinge forward at hips and reach hands to touch toes.

Slowly reverse movement back to start.

Do 10 reps.

C. Side planks with dips: x10/side

Lie on your side with legs stretched out and place your elbow on the floor directly underneath your shoulder with palm facing the floor.

Pile your feet on top of each other and lift your body up to neutral.

Dip your hips down toward the floor and lift them back and higher than neutral. Complete 10 dips before switching sides.


You’re done! Now use those beautifully sculpted arms to raise a glass of champagne to toast your success!

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