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The Princeton Longevity Center Medical News

Getting Your Arms Ready for the Summer

Tom O’Connor, RCEP, CSCS

Most of the traditional arm exercises do work, but we tend to stick with the same 4 or 5 exercises.  The same exercises, the same way, over and over usually means the same result. These results will plateau at some point and leave you wanting more.  Here a few ideas and exercises that can increase your results.

Time Under Tension - How long you are performing your exercises  
If you perform the same eight or ten repetitions per exercise, you should vary that range.  Try a few more workouts of 12-15 repetitions and maybe every once in a while go for sets of 20.  Another way to vary the time is to increase or decrease the speed of contraction.  If you typically work at one-two seconds for each set of ten, that takes 10-20 seconds per set.  Ideally we would like to see five-six seconds (two on the way up and four on the way down) for each repetition for a total of 50-60 seconds per set.  Try to perform your exercises at a slower pace or even a faster pace.

Exercise: Timed Band Tricep and Bicep Moves
Using a resistance band and a clock, perform 2-4 sets of 40 seconds.  Try to perform as many bicep curls or tricep extensions as possible during this interval.  Try to improve this number.


 Modes and Angles
I’m sure you’re familiar with dumbbells, but using machines, bands, cables, and even medicine balls may increase the desired results. Varying the angles on these devices are also just as helpful.  The arm muscles mostly help you bend and straighten the elbow, but a few actually attach above your shoulder which can help raise or lower the entire arm. With this in mind, try to use cables, bands, or dumbbells, with your arm at different angles.  You can perform a bicep curl with your arms above your head, or a tricep extension with arms directly in front of you.  There are countless combinations. If you vary just five angles on the three pieces of equipment (ex.: bands, cables and dumbbells), you have 15 different exercises.

Another angle you can change up is your wrist/grip angle.  If you rotate exercise grips from neutral to palms up to palms down you can greatly add to the variety of your routine.  If you take these three grips with the previous combinations of exercises you now have 45 different movements to perform, and that’s not even counting machines!

Exercise: Band Triceps Extensions
Using a cable cross over machine, set the cable height to  about ear height, and perform bicep curls with your palms up and arms out to the side making a “T” shape with your body (for biceps) or right next to your body hugging your sides (for triceps).  Only move your elbow joint and keep your elbow to elbow straight.



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