What Beautiful Biceps You Have!

Does that title of this column sound more like a pick-up line from your gym?  It’s not meant to be, but instead it is to assure you that you really can have strong, subtle and desirable biceps
Summer is the perfect time to work on strengthening arm muscles and all of your body.  Are you aware that the biceps is a muscle on the front part of the upper arm? The biceps includes a “short head” and a “long head” that work as a single muscle.  The biceps is attached to the arm bones by tough connective tissues called tendons. The tendons that connect the biceps muscle to the shoulder joint in two places are called the proximal biceps tendons. The tendon that attaches the biceps muscle to the forearm bones (radius and ulna) is called the distal biceps tendon. When the biceps contracts, it pulls the forearm up and rotates it outward.

When we do not use or challenge muscles, the body atrophies.  It loses the ability to function as it best can.  If you’ve ever had a time when you weren’t able to work out, you know getting back to your pre-time out fitness level is a challenge.

Strong arm muscles are beautiful and your best friends.  Here’s why:
They help you carry that over-stuffed brief case, haul groceries or move a sleepy toddler.  It’s also true that when you’re strong, you have more left over energy at the end of the day.  One friend in her mid-50s always trains for a hiking trip and makes sure to include arm exercises.  She knows that come the evening when others in the group may be heading off to bed, she wants to enjoy the resorts and nightlife of the area.  I admire that idea.  Those strong muscles give her more opportunity for fun.

Strong arm muscles can help make your future a lot fitter.  If that’s not a best friend working overtime I don’t what is.

Here are some arm-strengthening exercises to use twice a week.  You’ll spend just about 15 minutes and you’ll see a difference in just two weeks.  By the time our warm September hits, your biceps (and triceps) will be beautiful.  I recommend that you begin with the routine below, changing the number of reps, the size of your weights, or the order in which you perform the exercises at every workout.   If you haven’t worked your arm muscles in a long time, you’ll want to begin slowly and add repetitions by five when the workout becomes easy.  Note:  You don’t have to buy fancy weights. Just use items that weigh the same, such as empty plastic water bottles filled with beans.

For Biceps:
Palms-up biceps curl: With elbows bent at your sides, hold a 5- to 15-pound dumbbell in each hand. Bring hands down as far as you can, keeping palms facing the ceiling, then curl dumbbells back up.  Start with five reps and work up to 15.
Hammer curl: Without resting, turn palms to face each other, arms bent, elbows at your side.  Alternate this by lowering and raising your arms.  Start with five reps and work up to 15 reps on each side.
Concentrated biceps curl: Sit on a bench or chair. With a weight or dumbbell in right hand, press elbow against inside of right thigh. Allow arm to fully extend toward floor and then curl it back up toward you.  Start with five and make your goal to do this 15 times with each arm.

For Triceps:
The triceps lift:  Lie flat on the floor, a bench, or an exercise ball; tighten your core, hips, and buttocks.  Hold a 5- to 15-pound dumbbell in each hand. Start with hands at ears, elbows pointed toward the ceiling. Extend weights toward ceiling by straightening elbows. Start with five and work up to 15 reps.
Overhead triceps extension: Stand up and hold the dumbbells with your elbows pointed toward ceiling. Extend arms straight into the air, and then slowly drop them behind your head. Start with five and work up to 15 reps.

At the University of Arkansas there is a study that showed women, age 50 and older, that gardened or lifted weights, had stronger bones than those who walked, cycled or ran.  America’s favorite hobby—gardening–requires hauling shovels, moving tools, lifting and digging.  As a gardener, I’ve know the mental benefits of this hobby, but now there’s documentation to show it does more.  If keeping your arm muscles and bones strong has high priority, just keep digging in that dirt.

Along with lifting weights and these exercises, strive to participate in a regular fitness program six days a week.   Walking is a smart start and for many of the best way to get a workout.  Feast on fitness so when standing in front of a mirror you might say, “What beautiful biceps I have.”  That’s the way to stay fit for life.

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