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Firming Upper Arm Exercises for a 60 Year Old Woman

by
author image Nancy Cross
Nancy Cross is a certified paralegal who has worked as an employee benefits specialist and counseled employees on retirement preparation, including financial and estate planning. In addition to writing and editing, she runs a small business with her husband and is a certified personal trainer with the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA).
Firming Upper Arm Exercises for a 60 Year Old Woman
Unilateral curls allow you to work a weaker arm more. Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Pixland/Getty Images

You can't stop father time, but you can reduce to some extent the effects he has on your body. Perhaps the biggest effect is that your once-firm skin loses its elasticity and tends to hang under your chin and at the tops of your arms. Exercise cannot make your skin bounce back, but building muscle creates a greater area for the skin to stretch over. While you may not look as firm as you did in your twenties, exercise might get you back into sleeveless tops. And even if it doesn't totally firm your arms, strong upper arms will allow you to continue doing everyday tasks, like lifting, without injury

Know Your Muscles

The main muscles of your upper arms are the biceps in the front and the triceps at the back. The former works when you bend your elbow; the latter when you straighten it. Since you're more likely to notice sagging skin when you raise your arms, you may tend to concentrate on your triceps. In fact, it's simply gravity that pulls the skin down. You really need to build the entire upper arm to make skin appear firmer and maintain muscle balance to avoid injury. For each exercise, do one set of 10 to 15 repetitions. Choose a resistance with which 10 reps is tough at first. If you're just starting to exercise in your 60s, you may have to start at a very low resistance. When you can do 15 reps easily, increase the weight or move on to a more challenging exercise.

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Machines or Free Weights

If you've waited until 60 for your first foray into exercise, it's a good idea to start with machines, because they usually come with posted instructions and assist you in maintaining proper alignment. You should also check with your physician to see if there is any exercise you should avoid. If you are already familiar with proper technique, which generally means not locking your elbows or knees and keeping your head, back and pelvis aligned, and simply want to concentrate more on your arms, you can use dumbbells or resistance tubing. There's no reason why a 60-year-old woman can't use barbells as well. However, dumbbells allow for more varied exercises while still allowing you to lift heavy weight if you get to that point.

Bulging Biceps

The classic biceps exercise is, of course, the curl, where you start with your arms extended and bring your fists up toward your shoulders. For best effect, give it a squeeze at the top of the move and keep your elbows tucked into your body. Starting with a neutral grip -- palms facing in -- and rotating the forearm to a supinated -- palms up -- grip during the move, works your forearms as well. Progress to doing curls on a bench inclined to about 45 degrees or work your biceps unilaterally with concentration curls. Sit on a bench with your knees bent at 90 degrees. Lean slightly forward from your hips and at a slight angle so that you can place one elbow against the inside of your knee. Complete the curl as you normally would.

Toned Triceps

Triceps extensions can be done in numerous ways. Start holding one weight in both hands, dangling it from one end in what is called a "sweetheart" grip. With your elbows close to your ears and pointed up, extend your arms without locking your elbows. If possible, try to lightly touch the base of your neck with the loose end of the dumbbell on the return. You can also do this unilaterally or lying face up on a bench, supporting your working arm by placing your free hand just under your elbow. Next try a triceps kickback, placing one hand and knee on the same side of your body, on a bench. With a weight in your free hand, fully bend your elbow, keeping your upper arm tucked into and in line with your torso, then slowly extend your arm back. Do one set on each side.

Putting It Together

Working all of your major muscles -- chest, shoulders, back, legs and abs -- in addition to your arms will keep you healthy and your bones and joints strong. As you only need to work your muscles on two to three nonconsecutive days, you can devote one of those days to just upper arms for better firming. Always warm up and cool down with 10 minutes of cardio or dynamic stretching in the areas you are going to work. For arm stretching, extend your arms out behind you to get a stretch in your biceps. Grab your elbow and pull your arm across your body or behind your head to stretch your triceps.

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