Rapid Fire Arms
Keeping Your Arms Taut

By Alycea Ungaro

Originally published in Body Sense magazine, Spring/Summer 2007. Copyright 2007. Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals. All rights reserved.

The years have a way of tugging at your biceps, but a few minutes a day can help keep your arms taut. These three exercises can be easily integrated into a demanding day. But don't be fooled. Just because these movements are short, doesn't mean you won't feel the burn. Each of the major arm muscle groups--biceps, triceps, and deltoids--are all attacked with vigor. Begin these exercises using small hand weights (two to three pounds will do). After you start building strength, increase the weight to five or six pounds.

Bug. Stand tall with your feet planted hip-width apart, and hinge over to a flat-back position as you bend your knees. Position your weights underneath you, forming a circle with your arms, all the while pulling your stomach muscles in tightly. Without changing your body position, open the arms, leading with the elbows so that the weights pull away from each other and arms open wide. Resist the return to your starting position and repeat six more times. Round over to hang the head and arms and then roll up through your spine to finish.

Shaving. Stand with your legs pressed together and feet in a small V. Hold the weights in each hand and take the arms behind your head so that the weights rest at the nape of the neck and the elbows point upward. Pull your abdominals in and cast your gaze low to begin. Using resistance, extend your arms upward and then down. Keep the weights almost touching the entire time. Repeat eight to ten times.

Mini Circles. Stand upright with legs tightly together and buttocks muscles squeezing; hold your weights in the center and face the palms toward each other. Begin circling the weights toward each other, keeping a constant pace. Circle eight times as you steadily raise the arms from the thighs to overhead. Reverse the circle and lower the arms to complete one full set. Then repeat two more times. Do not allow your body to shake as you circle your arms.

Alycea Ungaro, pioneer of the Pilates method in New York City and licensed physical therapist, is founder and owner of Real Pilates studio. She has authored three bestselling books: Portable Pilates, Pilates: Body in Motion, and The Pilates Promise. Ungaro trains some famous bodies including Sarah Michelle Gellar, Madonna, Kyra Sedgwick, Molly Sims, Uma Thurman, Christy Turlington, and Matthew Modine.

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