Firm your triceps

Right now, your arms are probably covered under long sleeves, but soon it'll be time again for short sleeves and tanks, and you'll want your arms to look their best. If you've neglected working them this winter, you'll notice right away, says Sherri Kwasnicki, M.Sc., of Kwasnicki Fitness Consulting Inc. in Vancouver, British Columbia. Your muscles simply won't show. It's a dead giveaway that you're not in your best shape.

Kwasnicki has designed this simple program to get your arms into top condition. "When training the triceps (muscles at the back of your arms), as with any muscle, it's best to use a variety of equipment and exercises to challenge your body in different ways," she says. To do so, she uses exercise balls. The stability ball improves balance, medicine balls add strength, and the various positions target different muscle fibers.

To make the workout even more effective, Kwasnicki uses "pre-exhaustion training": She starts with the triceps extension, an isolation move that fatigues the muscle; then adds, without resting, a move involving more muscles -- the tri-dip. Pre-exhaustion training overloads the target muscles, improving strength and definition, she says. Next comes 30-60 seconds of rest before the last exercise, the medicine ball throw, which works many muscles, including the triceps.

This workout is intense, Kwasnicki says, but it will produce results. When you begin working your triceps, start with one set. Once they're stronger, you can rest them a minute or two and repeat the workout. Work your triceps at the most three times each week with a day off in between.

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