By Stephen E. Alway, Ph.D.
Illustrations by Wm. Hamilton, CMI
The arms can be problematic for many women. Particularly, the triceps muscle and the back of the arms can become soft and lack tone; however, this does not have to be the case. Some reasonable dieting and focused exercises can eliminate any arm trouble that you might find creeping up on you!
While push-ups may not be the first thing that comes to your mind for developing firm and shapely triceps contours, it is an excellent exercise for this purpose. Of course, it is also a wonderful substitute for those days when you just cannot break into your schedule enough to go to the gym, but you still need to get some activity. The close-hand push-up is an exercise with the potential to fully activate the triceps, while providing good muscle stimulation for the anterior shoulder, chest and even some of the smaller muscles of the back.
1. Position your body facedown, with your feet close together.
2. Place your hands about four inches apart. Your forefinger and thumbs should form a heart shape. You can spread your fingers if you feel unstable, as this will increase the base and give you a little extra support.
3. Start with your elbows bent and your abdomen on the floor. Push your body upward by straightening your elbows. Rise up so your bodyweight is distributed between your toes and your hands.
4. Keep your knees and body straight, and push upward by straightening your elbows. Do this quickly (1 second).
5. Do not rest at the top with your elbows straight, but slowly lower your chest toward the floor (in 3 seconds). Your elbows should point backward as you lower your body.
6. When your torso is a few inches from the floor, start the upward thrust again.
• Work up to 30 reps in each set.
• You should not need more than three sets.
• Rest 90 seconds between sets, but try shortening this so that eventually you are only resting 30 seconds between sets.
• If you find it too difficult to start with push-ups from your toes, you should begin with the exercise pivoting from your knees and place your hands close together. A close-hand position is important whether you do push-ups from your knees or toes, because a wider hand placement will increase the activation of the lateral fibers of the pectoralis muscle and pull the focus away from the triceps.
• If you have had a wrist injury, you should stay away from this exercise until your wrists heal completely.
Close-grip push-ups will effectively attack your posterior arms, whether you have minor work to do or if your arms need more attention. Never again will you be reluctant to wave at a friend for fear of showing a soft, posterior arm. Close-hand push-ups will quickly revolutionize your rear arms into firm, sexy pillars that you will want to show off, not hide!
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