Lifting weights, or resistance training, is key to improving the appearance of your arms. It adds lean muscle tissue and develops the appearance of muscular tissue. Resistance training also aids in increasing your metabolism to help control excess body fat. However, you cannot spot tone one section of the body, and a good weight lifting program needs to be accompanied by cardiovascular exercise and a healthy diet to produce the best results.
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The American College of Sports Medicine recommends resistance training two to three days per week with at least 48 hours rest between exercise sessions. For most people one set of 8 to 12 repetitions per muscle group is enough to see a change in muscle tissue and appearance. Athletes and experienced exercise participants may need to do multiple sets or exercises per muscle group to get the desired result.
The 48-hour rest period is vital to obtaining your desired result of more defined arms with less body fat. When you lift weights you create microscopic tears in the muscle tissue. When these tears heal, the muscle fibers grow back stronger and possible larger than before. If you do not give your body adequate recovery time you will constantly be breaking down muscle tissue and it won't heal. Occasionally 48 hours is not long enough rest time. If you are still sore after 48 hours, wait until that soreness is gone before exercising your arms again.
To achieve defined, muscular arms you need to exercise the shoulders, biceps and triceps. By training all three of these muscle groups you will target the arm all around and achieve muscular balance. A standing dumbbell shoulder press will focus on your deltoids. Bicep curls on a machine, with free weights or a band, will define the front of your arm. Overhead extensions with dumbbells, cables or a band will focus on your triceps and tone the back of your arm where a lot of body fat may sit.
Weight loss happens from the body as a whole and cannot be targeted to a single area. Toning your arms happens through a combination of cardio conditioning to burn off the fat and weight training to strengthen and tone the muscles once they're visible. Cardio sessions can burn a lot of calories to control weight and improve your health. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends three to five days per week for 20 to 30 minutes per day. If you have a lot of weight to lose, increase the duration up to 50 to 60 minutes. Keep your intensity moderate to hard and gradually progress to prevent over-training.
Diet is a factor to consider when trying to reduce body fat and add muscle to your body. A healthy, balanced diet will provide adequate energy for your body as well as aid in recovery from exercise. Avoid cutting any one nutrient from your diet completely. Carbohydrates, fats and protein are all important to your health and weight goals. Consider hiring a dietitian experienced with exercise participants if you are not sure what and how much you should be eating.
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- "Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning"; National Strength and Conditioning Association; 2008
- "ACSM's Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription"; Walter R. Thompson, Ph.D., FACSM, Neil F. Gordon, M.D., Ph.D., FACSM, Linda S. Pescatello, Ph.D., FACSM; 2009
- "Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition Guidebook"; Nancy Clark, M.S., R.D.; 2008