An old friend of mine (hi Alyson!) recently asked me how to tone up her arms before her wedding. She doesn't belong to a gym, but she has a pair of 5-pound dumbbells at home. Well, Alyson, consider this your customized wedding workout. These exercises are simple, require very little gear, and they're really effective.
Here's how it works: Twice a week on non-consecutive days, warm up with 20 forward and backward arm circles. Then do 10 reps of each move in order without resting in-between. (To burn more calories, jump rope for a minute between each move.) Repeat twice. Don't forget to do cardio: Walk or jog around your neighborhood for 30 to 60 minutes five days a week.
One note: As you get stronger, those 5-pound dumbbells will feel lighter; when they do, add a resistance band to these moves (hold an end in each hand with a weight). You can find bands at Target for about $5.
Bent-over rear fly works your back and rear shoulders)
Stand with your feet about hip-width apart and hold a dumbbell in each hand, arms extended in front of you and palms facing each other. Bend forward at your hips until your torso is parallel to the floor and bend your knees and elbows slightly. (Your arms should be aligned with your shoulders.) Slowly raise your arms out to the side to shoulder height [shown], lower arms, and repeat.
Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold a dumbbell in each hand in front of you, arms extended in front of you and palms facing away from you. Curl weights to your shoulders [shown], lower, and repeat.
Balancing front/side raise (works your shoulders and core) Hold a dumbbell in each hand, left arm at your side and right arm in front of your hips, palms facing thighs. Transfer your weight to your left leg and bend your right knee so you're balancing on left foot. Raise your left arm to shoulder height out to your side as you raise your right arm to shoulder height in front of you [shown]. Repeat; switch arms and feet halfway through set.
Fly to pullover (works your chest and upper back)
Hold a dumbbell in each hand and lie faceup on the floor with your knees bent and feet on the floor. Extend your arms over your chest, palms facing each other and elbows slightly bent (as if you were hugging a tree). Lower your arms out to sides [shown]. Return to start position, then lower your arms behind you [shown]. Return to start position to complete 1 rep. Repeat entire sequence.
Dip (works your triceps)
Sit on the edge of your coffee table or a sturdy chair with legs extended on the floor in front of you and hands grasping the edge. Straighten your arms, lift your hips slightly forward off the table, and pull your abs in tight. Slowly bend your elbows, lowering your butt toward the floor [shown]. Straighten your arms (but don't lock out your elbows) and repeat.
Note: If this move is too challenging, do it with your knees bent.