After my last aerial exercise post, Sara requested I write about my arm workout. My main exercise is climbing & holding myself in the air along with P90X cardio 4-5 times a week. I know that most of you don’t have 20 ft ceilings at home, so here are my favorite arm exercises you can do with dumbbells and your own body weight.
Now, I know it’s popular for exercises to be “fun and easy!” and “just 10 minutes a day!” But here’s the thing – you don’t get badass arms (or abs or buns) from an easy workout. You get them from pushing yourself, lifting the max, and sweating like a pig.
So here you go – nine exercises to get toned, buff aerial arms…
1. 90 degree press | shoulders: Hold one arm out in front of you, one out to the side, weights facing down. Raise both arms, lower and then switch positions.
2. Bicep curls | biceps: Stand up straight, arms down palms facing forward. Slowly curl one arm at a time up to your chest and back down, alternating arms. You should be using big weights for this one.
3. Tricep dips |triceps: No weights needed. Place your hands behind you on a chair, with knees bent, dip down until your arms are at a 90 degree angle and then, using only your arms, push yourself back up. If you can do more than 10 easily, straight your legs or put your feet up on a chair.
4. Overhead tricep extension | triceps, shoulders: Hold a weight in one hand behind your head, extend your arm straight up and back down.
5. Reverse curl with side press | biceps, shoulders, forearms: Bend your elbows and bring the weights to your shoulders, palms facing out. Press the weights out and then down. Then raise the weights back up and into your shoulders.
6. Tricep Kickback | back, triceps: Bend your knees, hinge at the waist and extend your arms back while squeezing your shoulder blades together. Make sure to keep your back straight and move the lower part of your arm while your elbows stay in place.
7. Side push-up | triceps, obliques: Lay on your left side, put your left hand on your right shoulder or rib cage. Place your right hand on the ground in front of your left shoulder. Press with your right hang to lift your torso off the floor, lower down slowly.
8. Push-ups | biceps, shoulders, abs, back: No half push-ups here! Three regular push-ups will benefit you more than 10 on your knees. Add in a push up to your yoga routine when moving from plank to downward dog. Make sure your back is straight and squeeze those abs! Push-ups are the gateway to pull-ups.
9. Pull-ups | triceps, biceps, shoulders: I know you don’t want to hear this, but if you want aerial arms without getting into the air, pull-ups are the way to do it. With hands facing away from you (works your triceps and shoulders), pull-up and then SLOWLY lower down. Repeat the same movement with hands facing toward you, working your biceps. You could even do some straight leg raises while you’re hanging out up there :)
If you can’t pull up at all, jump up and hold as long as you can. If you can do 10 easily then start with straight arms, knees bent hanging below the bar. This is my favorite doorway pull-up bar, but if your house has giant moldings liked mine, this one works great too.
A few more tips
Find the right size weights. If you want to build muscle then you should not be able to do more than 10 reps/set with your weights. The first 5 should be easy-ish and 6-10 should be difficult. If you’re going over 10 reps per set without any issue then you need to up your weight. I usually lift 5 and keep 10 nearby.
To build muscle you need protein Try to eat or drink protein within one hour of working out. I put a scoop of chocolate protein powder + 8oz of almond milk (and sometimes a banana) in my blender and drink that after my workouts. My brother, who is super into Cross Fit & we call Muscle Man, said he drinks chocolate milk after his workouts.
Don’t forget to stretch! My right shoulder becomes very unhappy and sore if I don’t stretch before and after my workouts. I start with arm circles, pull each arm across my chest to get a stretch near my scapula, and then putt each arm behind my head like the overhead tricep extension sans weight and pull on my elbow.
And lastly, adding a little cardio a few times a week will help your new muscles stand out even more!