You are here

Strong, Sexy Arms Training Plan: Weeks 1-3

SHAPE'S Strong, Sexy Arms Challenge is split into two 3-week training plans, both designed to burn fat and build lean muscle.

How it works: You'll perform five total workouts per week: three are focused on weight training and two are designed to increase conditioning through interval work. Before every strength-training session, perform the same dynamic warm up. You can add a optional sixth workout each week by doing something active that you enjoy—a yoga class, playing tennis, etc.

A sample week might look like this:

Monday: Strength Workout 1-A
Tuesday: Cardio Intervals
Wednesday: Strength Workout 1-B
Thursday: Cardio Intervals
Friday: Strength Workout 1-A
Saturday: Optional
Sunday: Rest

Get the Strong, Sexy Arms Training Plan: Weeks 1-3 >>

Strong, Sexy Arms Challenge: Dynamic Warm Up

When you're crunched for time—ahem, always—it's tempting to skip the warm up and dive right in to your workout. But that's a bad idea. Among other things, warming up lets your muscles and cardiovascular system know what's coming. As a result, you're not only less likely to get injured, but you're also less likely to feel sore the next day.

This dynamic warm up gets your blood flowing and prepares your whole body for a great workout. Plus, it takes less than 10 minutes to complete No excuses!

1: Forward Lunge, Elbow to Instep, Torso Rotation
Sets: 1
Reps: 5-6 on each leg

  • Stand tall with your arms at your sides.

  • Brace your core and lunge forward with your right leg.

  • As you lunge, lean forward at your hips and place your left hand on the floor so that it's even with your right foot.

  • Place your right elbow next to the instep of your right foot (or as close as you can), and hand for 2 seconds.

  • Next, rotate your torso up and to the right and reach as high as you can with your right hand.

  • Now, rotate back and place your right hand on the floor outside your right foot, then push your hips upward. That's one rep.

  • Step forward with your left leg and repeat.

2: Low Side-to-Side Lunge
Sets: 1
Reps: 5-6 on each leg

  • Stand with your feet set about twice shoulder-width apart, your feet facing straight ahead.

  • Clasp your hands in front of your chest.

  • Shift your weight over to your right leg as you push your hips backward and lower your body by dropping your hips and bending your knees.

  • Your lower right leg should remain nearly perpendicular to the floor.

  • Your left foot should remain flat on the floor.

  • Without raising yourself back up to a standing position, reverse the movement to the left. Alternate back and forth.

3: Side-Lying Thoracic Rotation
Sets: 1
Reps: 5-6 on each leg

  • Lie on your left side on the floor, with your hips and knees bent 90 degrees.

  • Straighten both arms in front of you at shoulder height, palms pressed together.

  • Keeping your left arm and both legs in position, rotate your right arm up and over your body and rotate your torso to the right, until your right hand and upper back are flat on the floor.

  • Hold for 2 seconds, then bring your right arm back to the starting position.

  • Complete the prescribed number of reps, then turn over and do the same number for your other side.

4: Wall Slide
Sets: 1
Reps: 5

  • Lean your head, upper back, and butt against the wall.

  • Place your hands and arms against the wall in the “high-five” position, your elbows bent 90 degrees and your upper arms at shoulder height.

  • Keeping your elbows, wrists, and hands pressed into the wall, slide your elbows down toward your sides as far as you can. Squeeze your shoulder blades together.

  • Slide your arms back up the wall as high as you can while keeping your hands in contact with the wall.

  • Lower and repeat.

5: Inchworm
Sets: 1
Reps: 3-4

  • Stand tall with your legs straight and bend over and touch the floor.

  • Keeping your legs straight, walk your hands forward.

  • Then take tiny steps to walk your feet back to your hands. That's one repetition.

Go on to the Strong, Sexy Arms Training Plan >>

Strong, Sexy Arms Training Plan: Weeks 1-3

You'll Need: A bench or step, a triceps rope, a resistance band, a mini band, and a set of dumbbells. Find gear at powersystems.com

How it Works: Do three strength workouts and two cardio workouts per week. For your first session of the week, complete strength workout 1-A and then continue alternating with strength workout 1-B for the entire three weeks, leaving one weekday between sessions for cardio. If you start the plan on a Monday, your workout schedule will look like this:    

Week

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

Sunday

#1

1-A

Cardio 1

1-B

Cardio 1

1-A

Optional

Off

#2

1-B

Cardio 1

1-A

Cardio 1

1-B

Optional

Off

#3

1-A

Cardio 1

1-B

Cardio 1

1-A

Optional

Off

 

Strong, Sexy Arms Training Plan: Strength Workout 1-A

A1: Front Foot Elevated Split Squat
Sets: 3
Reps: 10-12 on each leg
Rest between sets: 30 seconds

  • Stand in a staggered stance with your front foot on a 6-inch box or step.

  • Take 2 seconds to lower your body as far as you can.

  • Pause for 1 second, then take 1 second to push yourself back up to the starting position.

  • Complete the prescribed number of reps with your left leg forward, then do the same number with your right foot elevated in front of your left.

A2: Seated Row with Triceps Rope (or Split Handle)
Sets: 3
Reps: 10-12
Rest between sets: 30 seconds

  • Attach a rope handle to the cable and position yourself in a seated position with your feet braced.

  • Grab an end of the rope with each hand.

  • Without moving your torso, take 2 seconds to pull the rope toward your sternum, elbows pointing out.

  • Pause for 1 second, then take 1 second to return to the starting position. Repeat for the prescribed number of repetitions.

A3: Band Assisted Chin Ups
Sets: 3
Reps: 10-12
Rest between sets: 60 seconds

  • Loop one end of a large exercise band around a chin-up bar and then pull it through the other end of the band, cinching it tightly to the bar. (The thicker the band you buy, the more assistance it will provide.)

  • Grab the bar with a shoulder-width, underhand grip, and place your knees in the loop of the band.

  • Hang at arm’s length. You should return to this position—known as a "dead hang"—each time you lower your body back down.

  • Perform a chin-up by taking 1 second to pull your collarbone to the bar. As you pull your body up, stick your chest out, squeeze your shoulder blades down and back, and focus on pulling your upper arms down forcefully.

  • Once the top of your chest touches the bar, pause, then take 3 seconds to lower your body back to a dead hang. That's one rep.

B1: Hip Raise with Knee Press-Out
Sets: 3
Reps: 10-12
Rest between sets: 30 seconds

  • Place a 9-inch mini-band just above your knees and lie faceup on the floor with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.

  • Take 1 second to raise your hips so your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to your knees, pushing outward against the band to increase activation of your glutes.

  • Pause for up to 5 seconds in the up position, then take 2 seconds to lower your body back to the starting position. Repeat for the prescribed number of repetitions.

B2: Seated Hammer Curl to Shoulder Press
Sets: 3
Reps: 10-12
Rest between sets: 30 seconds

  • Sit tall on a bench or Swiss ball holding a set of 3 to 8-pound dumbbells (or heavier if you're capable) with a hammer grip (your palms facing each other).

  • Curl the dumbbells toward your shoulders.

  • Press the dumbbells above your head until your arms are straight.

  • Reverse the movement and repeat until all reps are completed.

  • It should take approximately 2 seconds to go from the start position to overhead and vice vera.

B3: Prone Plank
Sets: 3
Reps: 1 (try to hold for 60 seconds)
Rest between sets: 60 seconds

  • Start to get into a pushup position, but bend your elbows and rest your weight on your forearms instead of on your hands.

  • Your body should form a straight line from your shoulders to your ankles.

  • Brace your core by contracting your abs as if you were about the be punched in the gut.

  • If 60 seconds is easy for you, try to hold as long as you can and write down that time to track your progress.

Strong, Sexy Arms Training Plan: Strength Workout 1-B

A1: Front Squats with Dumbbells
Sets: 3
Reps: 10-12
Rest between sets: 30 seconds

  • Hold a pair of dumbbells so that your palms are facing each other, and rest one of the dumbbell heads on the meatiest part of each shoulder.

  • Brace your abs, and take 3 seconds to lower your body as far as you can by pushing your hips back and bending your knees.

  • Pause, then take 1 second to push yourself back to the starting position.

  • Keep your body as upright as you can at all times.

  • Don't allow your elbows to drop down as you squat.

A2: Push Ups
Sets: 3
Reps: As many as possible using correct form
Rest between sets: 30 seconds

  • Get down on all fours and place your hands on the floor so that they're slightly wider than and in line with your shoulders.

  • Take 2 seconds to lower your body until your chest nearly touches the floor.

  • Pause slightly at the bottom, and then push yourself back to the starting position as quickly as possible.

  • If your hips sag at any point during the exercise, your form has broken down. When this happens, consider that your last repetition and end the set.

A3: Single-Arm Dumbbell Rows (Elbows in)
Sets: 3
Reps: 10-12 on each side
Rest between sets: 60 seconds

  • Grab a dumbbell in your right hand, bend at your hips and knees, and lower your torso until it's almost parallel to the floor.

  • Let the dumbbell hang at arm's length from your shoulders.

  • Take 1 second to pull the dumbbell to the side of your torso, keeping your elbow tucked close to your side. Pause for 1 second at the top and then take 2 seconds to lower back to the starting position.

  • Perform all reps with one arm and then switch to the other side.

B1: Valslide Hip Extension, Leg Curl Combo
*If you don't have Valslides, use a small gym towel instead
Sets: 3
Reps: 10-12
Rest between sets: 30 seconds

  • Lie faceup on the floor and place each heel on a Valslide or towel with your knees bent and your heels near your butt.

  • Take 1 second to push your hips up so that your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to your knees.

  • Keeping your hips in line with your torso, take 2 seconds to slide your heels out until your legs are straight.

  • Take 1 second to reverse the movement back to the starting position and repeat.

B2: Standing Dumbbell Curls
Sets: 3
Reps: 10-12
Rest between sets: 30 seconds

  • Grab a pair of dumbbells and let them hang at arm's length next to your sides.

  • Turn your arms so that your palms face forward.

  • Without moving your upper arms, bend your elbows and take 1 second to curl the dumbbells as close to your shoulders as you can.

  • Pause, then take 3 seconds to lower the weights back to the starting position.

  • Each time you return to the starting position, completely straighten your arms.

B3: Dumbbell Triceps Extensions
Sets: 3
Reps: 10-12
Rest between sets: 60 seconds

  • Grab a pair of dumbbells and lie faceup on a flat bench.

  • Hold the dumbbells over your head with straight arms, your palms facing each other.

  • Without moving your upper arms, bend your elbows and then take 2 seconds to lower the dumbbells until your forearms are beyond parallel to the floor.

  • Pause for 1 second, then lift the weights back to the starting position by straightening your arms. That's one rep.

C1: Side Plank
Sets: 3
Reps: 1 (try to hold for 30 seconds)
Rest between sets: 60 seconds

  • Lie on your left side with your knees straight.

  • Prop your upper body up on your left elbow and forearm.

  • Brace your core by contracting your abs forcefully as if you were about to be punched in the gut.

  • Raise your hips until your body forms a straight line from your ankles to your shoulders.

  • Breathe deeply for the duration of the exercise.

  • Hold this position for 30 seconds, and then turn around so that you're lying on your right side and repeat.

  • If 30 seconds is easy for you, hold as long as you can and write down that time so you can track your progress.

Strong, Sexy Arms Training Plan: Cardio Workout 1

For best results, do the cardio workout below twice a week. You'll use the Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) as your guide. An RPE of 1 is the equivalent of lying on the couch; a 10 is sprinting for the bus.

  • Hop on the treadmill and warm up for 3-5 minutes at 3.5 MPH

  • Then, run for 3 minutes at a 6-7.5 RPE. Take 1 minute to recover at a 3-4 RPE and repeat the 3 on/1 off pattern 5 or 6 more times.

  • Finish with a 3-5 minute cool down at 3.5 MPH.

MAKE IT HARDER: If you started doing 5 reps, add a 6th rep during week two. If you started with 6 reps, increase the speed of your intervals and then try to reduce your rest periods to 45 seconds.

Go back to the Strong, Sexy Arms Challenge main page >>