5 Tips for Toned Arms


"How do I get toned arms?"

I get this question probably more than any other, and this will not be the only time I ever talk about it. So many women are insecure about their arms. They want their arms to be thin, but not skinny fat. They want them to be strong, but not man-ish. It's an interesting idea -- this idea of "toned." 

Personally, I'm not a huge fan of that word, "toned." It doesn't really mean anything. So from here on out, let's call it strong and lean. 

1. Lift heavy things

This is my number one piece of advice. In order to have lean, tight arms, you need to put some muscle in there. And the best way to get muscle is to lift heavy things. A lot of girls fear lifting heavy weights. They don't want to look bulky, they're intimidated by free weights, they find weight lifting boring, etc. If you fall into any of those groups, I just want to encourage you to try it. Most women have to try really hard to build large, bulky muscle. When you see olympic body builders, those ladies are taking steroids. You aren't going to look like that unintentionally. 

Note: a flexed arm looks much more muscular than a hand on the hip.

Find a good workout, and bring it with you to the gym. Pop in some headphones so the bros will leave you alone, put on some lifting gloves (so that your hands stay soft), and get to work.

If you don't want to hire a personal trainer to give you a routine, try one of the lifting programs on bodybuilding.com (Don't fear the website name. Again, women don't get huge, man-ish muscle accidentally.) I'd recommend trying Jamie Eason's Live Fit 12-Week Trainer. It's a great program for beginners. Having a plan will keep you organized, motivated, and challenged.

2. Drink and eat protein

Protein is an essential nutrient. You should aim to eat at least 1g per lb of body weight. So if you weigh 120lbs, you should eat at least 120g carbs every day. And that's a minimum. I weigh 115lbs and I aim to eat 139g protein every day.

You can add protein to your diet with things like high quality meats (especially chicken breast and fish), eggs, plain greek yogurt, and protein powder. 

Check out my recipes page for good, protein-rich food ideas. You'll definitely want to try my 3-ingredient protein pancakes

3. Don't be afraid of carbs

Your body needs carbs. Carbohydrates are your body's primary source of fuel. Eating wholesome carbohydrates will power your workouts, help you to recover, and build muscle. 

Carbs you should include in your diet:

  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Quinoa
  • Brown rice
  • Potatoes
  • Legumes
  • Whole grains

And, of course, you're allowed an intermittent chips and queso splurge for days like today (Cinco de Mayo)! Try my friend Brynn's queso recipe!

4. Get adequate sleep, minimize stress, and drink lots of water

Stress, sleep, and hydration play a big role in weight loss. You know what you need --

  • Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep each night
  • Try to drink 100oz of water every day
  • If you're someone who is overly stressed, try meditation/prayer

I'm a very anxious/stressed out person. A lot of my health/fitness regime helps to calm me down. I've found distance running, yoga, meditation, hot tea, good sleep, and meditation/prayer to be really helpful for me. I recently downloaded Heather Waxman's Soul Sessions album. It's a collection of beautiful songs/meditaitons, mostly on love. The meditations aren't Christian, so when I say them in my head, I give gratitude to God the Father instead of to the "Divine" or the "Universe". 

Her album makes me want to create a similar set of meditations that are rooted in Christianity. Would anyone be interested in that?

5. Lose overall body fat

Unfortunately for all of us, spot targeting is not a real thing. You can't choose where your body will lose weight. Once you gain muscle in your arms, you may need to lose overall body fat to reveal the muscles underneath. All of the principles above will help you to do that. 

In addition, you may want to start incorporating HIIT training into your workout routine. HIIT workouts really torch calories and will help you to lose fat. 

Be patient with your body. Lose fat in a healthy, steady way and you will have an easier time maintaining the fat loss.

Questions of the Day:

Do you have a "problem area"? What do you do to minimize stress in your life?