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Strong, Sexy Arms Training Plan: Weeks 4-6

You've made it through the first half (the hardest part!) of SHAPE'S Strong, Sexy Arms Challenge. Now, it's time to kick it up a notch. Do Challenge Coach Joe Dowdell's Strong, Sexy Arms Training Plan Weeks 4-6 to continue seeing amazing results!

How it works: Do five training sessions per week: three strength workouts and two cardio sessions. 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 2-A
Tuesday: Cardio Intervals
Wednesday: Strength Workout 2-B
Thursday: Cardio Intervals
Friday: Strength Workout 2-A
Saturday: Optional
Sunday: Rest

Get the Strong, Sexy Arms Training Plan: Weeks 4-6 >>

Strong, Sexy Arms Challenge: Dynamic Warm Up

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.

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Strong, Sexy Arms Training Plan: Weeks 4-6

How it Works: Do three strength workouts and two cardio workouts per week. For your first session of the week, complete strength workout 2-A, and then continue alternating with strength workout 2-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

2-A

EST-2

2-B

EST-2

2-A

Optional

Off

#2

2-B

EST-2

2-A

EST-2

2-B

Optional

Off

#3

2-A

EST-2

2-B

EST-2

2-A

Optional

Off









Strong, Sexy Arms Training Plan: Strength Workout 2-A

A1: Dumbbell Step Ups
Sets: 3
Reps: 10-12 on each leg
Rest between sets: 30 seconds

  • Grab a pair of dumbbells and hold them at arm's length at your sides. Stand in front of a bench or step, and place your left foot firmly on the step.

  • The step should be high enough that your knee is bent 90 degrees.

  • Press your left heel into the step and push your body up until your left leg is straight and you're standing on one leg on the bench, keeping your right foot elevated.

  • Lower your body back down until your right foot touches the floor. That's one repetition.

  • Complete all repetitions with your left leg, then do the same number with your right leg.

A2: Alternating Incline Dumbbell Bench Press
Sets: 3
Reps: 10-12 on each side
Rest between sets: 30 seconds

  • Set an adjustable bench to an incline of about 30 degrees.

  • Grab a pair of dumbbells and lie on your back, holding the dumbbells over your chest so that they're nearly touching, arms straight.

  • Your palms should be facing out but slightly turned inward.

  • Before you begin, pull your shoulder blades down and together and hold them there throughout the entire exercise.

  • Take 3 seconds to lower the dumbbell in your left arm to your chest. Pause and then press back up to the top position. Repeat with your right arm and continue alternating until you complete the prescribed number of repetitions.

A3: Inverted Rows
Sets: 3
Reps: 10-12
Rest between sets: 60 seconds

  • Grab the bar with an overhand, shoulder-width grip and hang with your arms completely straight, hands positioned directly above your shoulders.

  • Initiate the movement by pulling your shoulder blades back, then continue the pull with your arms to lift your chest to the bar.

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

B1: Valslide Lateral Lunge
*If you don't have Valslides, use a small gym towel instead.
Sets: 3
Reps: 10-12 on each leg
Rest between sets: 30 seconds

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart with each foot on a Valslide or small towel.

  • Slide your left foot out to your left as you push your hips backward and lower your body by dropping your hips and bending your right knee, keeping your left leg straight the whole time.

  • Pause, then pull yourself back to the starting position with your feet on the Valslides or towel the entire time.

B2: Band Assisted Dips
Sets: 3
Reps: 10-12
Rest between sets: 30 seconds

  • Loop two ends of a large exercise band around the handles of a dip station or parallel bars (The thicker the band, the more assistance it will provide.)

  • Place your knees inside the band and support your bodyweight upright, arms straight, hands gripping the parallel bars.

  • Take 3 seconds to lower your body by bending at the elbows. Keep your elbows close to your sides for the entire movement.

  • Take 1 second to press your body back up to the starting position so that your arms are nearly straight but not quite locked. That's one rep.

B3: Swiss Ball Roll Out
Sets: 3
Reps: 10-12
Rest between sets: 60 seconds

  • Sit on your knees in front of a Swiss ball and place your forearms and fists on the ball.

  • Take 2 seconds to roll the ball forward, straightening your arms and extending your body as far as you can without allowing your back to "collapse."

  • Use your abdominal muscles to pull the ball back to your knees.

  • Tip: Don't let your hips sag and keep your core braced.

Strong, Sexy Arms Training Plan: Strength Workout 2-B

A1: Reverse Lunge
Sets: 3
Reps: 10-12 on each leg
Rest between sets: 30 seconds

  • Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart, chest up.

  • Step backward with your left leg. Then take 2 seconds to lower your body into a lunge until your front knee is bent at least 90 degrees.

  • Pause, then push yourself to the starting position as quickly as you can. Complete all reps on one leg and then switch to the other side.

A2: Flat Dumbbell Bench Press
Sets: 3
Reps: 10-12
Rest between sets: 30 seconds

  • Grab a pair of dumbbells and lie on your back on a flat bench, holding the dumbbells over your chest so that they're nearly touching. Your palms should be facing each other.

  • Before you begin, pull your shoulder blades down and together, and hold them as tight as you can throughout the entire exercise.

  • Without changing the angle of your hands, take 3 seconds to lower the dumbbells to the sides of your body.

  • Pause, then press the weights back up to the starting position as quickly as you can.

  • Straighten your arms completely at the top of each repetition.

A3: Seated Zottmann Curls
Sets: 3
Reps: 10-12
Rest between sets: 60 seconds

  • Sit tall on a bench or Swiss ball and hold a pair of dumbbells with an overhand grip.

  • Without moving your upper arms, take 1 second to curl the weights toward your shoulders.

  • At the top of the curl, rotate your wrists outward so your palms face forward. Take 3 seconds to lower them in that position.

  • Rotate your wrists and dumbbells back to their starting position and repeat.

B1: Romanian Deadlifts with Dumbbells
Sets: 3
Reps: 10-12
Rest between sets: 30 seconds

  • Stand with your feet hip width apart and knees slightly bent, holding a pair of dumbbells at your sides.

  • Shift your hips back and take 2 seconds to lower the dumbbells while keeping your back flat.

  • Pause for 1 second, then return to standing position by contracting your hamstrings and glutes.

  • Repeat for prescribed number of repetitions

B2: Single-Arm Dumbbell Row (Elbows Out)
Sets: 3
Reps: 10-12 on each side
Rest between sets: 30 seconds

  • Place your left hand and left knee on a flat bench. (Don't round your lower back)

  • Grab a dumbbell in your right hand and let it hang at arm's length next to your side.

  • Turn your arms so that your palms face behind you and keep a slight bend in your elbows.

  • Take 1 seconds to row the dumbbell toward the side of your chest so that your arm is perpendicular to your body.

  • Pause for 1 second at the top of the movement, then take 2 seconds to lower the dumbbell back to the starting position.

  • Perform all repetitions on one side and then switch arms.

B3: Lateral Dumbbell Raises
Sets: 3
Reps: 10-12
Rest between sets: 60 seconds

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

  • Stand tall, with your feet shoulder-width apart.

  • Turn your arms so that your palms are facing forward, and bend your elbows slightly.

  • Without changing the bend in your elbows, take 1 second to raise your arms straight out to your sides until they're at shoulder level.

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

C1: Pallof Cable Press
Sets: 3
Reps: 1 (try to hold for 30 seconds per side)
Rest between sets: 30 seconds

  • Adjust a cable machine so the pulley is at chest height. Grab the handle with both hands and walk out so there is tension on the cable.

  • Now, turn 45 degrees so you face sideways in relation to the cable, and assume a hip width stance with the handle at your chest. This is the starting position.

  • Press the cable straight out in front of you and hold. Brace your midsection and do not let it pull your arms or trunk to the side; the object of the exercise is to resist rotation.

Strong, Sexy Arms Training Plan: Cardio Workout 2

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.

  • Warm up for 3-5 minutes on a stationary bike.

  • Then, bike for 1 minute at a 7-8.5 RPE. Take 2 minutes to recover at a 3-4 RPE and repeat the 1 on/2 off pattern 5 or 6 more times.

  • Stay on the bike for another 3-5 minutes to cool down.

MAKE IT HARDER: If you started doing 5 reps, add a 6th rep during week two. If you started with 6 reps, increase the resistance setting for the work intervals. To make it even more challenging, reduce your rest periods to 1 minute 45 seconds.

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