Get Your Arms Firm and Cut
but Not Bulky

Client Question: How can I get my arms firm and cut? I don’t want bulky muscles but I want them to be toned and I want to be able to see the muscles. At my age is this even possible? (I’m 48).

Gina’s Answer: There are a number of steps required to achieve arms that are firm and cut. Although genetics mean that some people will have a much easier time than others, everyone can improve the appearance of her arms. Here is what you need to do to obtain a firm and toned pair of your own:

1. Perform Weight-Training or Challenging Bodyweight Exercises Using Your Arms. For best results, perform exercises during which you “push” away (for example, push-ups, the shoulder press, and a tricep extension) at least twice per week, and also exercises where you “pull” (for example, chin-ups, bent-over rows, and bicep curls) at least twice per week.

2. Compound movements are king. Spend more time on compound movements that use more than one muscle group in the upper body at a time than you do on isolation movements that only target one muscle group at a time. Compound movements naturally lead to a more aesthetically pleasing look to the average person. Compound movements are also more efficient time-wise, which leaves you more time for…

3. Cardio is essential to reduce bodyfat, which will allow those muscles to actually show. Cardio using your legs (such as running) tends to burn more calories, and you will lose fat from your arms even if you don’t use them for cardio specifically. However, some folks who have a hard time losing fat from their arms will notice they lose more bodyfat from the upper body when they perform cardio with their upper body, such as kayaking, ergonomic rowing, kickboxing, or sports like tennis. But, most people don’t require this arm usage during cardio for fat loss in the arms. In general cardio of any type will be helpful for reducing fat in the upper body.

4. Exercise moderation with a diet that includes protein, some healthy fats, and some ‘good’ carbs (ones that include fiber). If your calorie intake is excessive or you consume too much sugar and fat, you will store those extra calories on your body, including your arms, and those beautiful muscles won’t show through. Also be sure to consume plenty of carbs and protein after your strength-training workout, which will allow your muscles to recover fully. If your muscles do not recover properly because you fail to consume protein and carbohydrate during the crucial post-workout time, you will not build the muscle necessary for firm, toned arms. Your arms will simply become thinner, but will be just as flabby as before.

5. Age does matter, but not as much as you think. An older person who works out can develop more muscle tone than a younger person who does not work out. Many people have the best body of their lives in their 40s, 50s or 60s if they begin a workout regimen during those years. Building muscle is particularly good for older people because muscle helps fill out skin that may have become looser with age, whereas simply losing weight without including muscle-building exercise can make wrinkles appear even worse.

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