Last week, one of my clients mentioned to me a story that she’d seen on a popular evening entertainment show. A story about women flocking by the thousands to their plastic surgeon’s offices because they wanted arms like Michelle Obama.
According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, last year more than 15 000 people (98% of them women) elected to undergo ‘brachioplasty’ to remove excess skin and fat from the back of their upper arms. Compare that to the year 2000, when only about 300 surgeries were performed nation wide. That’s an increase of nearly 4 400% in just over 10 years!
While I’m not surprised to learn that women want to improve the look and tone of their triceps, I AM surprised to see that so many have chosen a surgical route to reach their goals. Surgery is expensive (nearly $4 000 for this procedure), leaves visible scars and can result in unexpected complications and infection during the recovery period.
Want arms like Michelle Obama without going under the knife?
- eat clean and pay attention to portion sizes. Fat accumulates all over the body, including the back of the upper arms, when we consume sugar, alcohol, fatty and processed foods. Educate yourself about portion sizes and eat within your caloric requirements.
- move more. The more your move, the more calories you burn. Daily calorie deficit leads to fat loss. Movement doesn’t need to be fast to be effective; start by adding a 15 minute walk to your day.
- strengthen your largest muscles. Whole body strength training builds metabolically active muscle; muscle that will continue to consume calories long after your workout. Don’t limit your weight lifting to upper body exercise; your legs and butt are large, powerful muscles and will contribute more to your daily energy budget than the smaller muscles of your arms.
- follow an upper body strength training plan. Michelle Obama clearly works out. I’m guessing that she spends 30 minutes a day, perhaps 3 days a week, training her upper body. No doubt she works in the 6 to 12 repetition range (the ‘hypertrophy’ range) and lifts weights heavy enough to fatigue her muscles by the end of each set.
If a client came to me wanting arms like Michelle Obama, here’s a program I would suggest they start with, 3 days per week, every other day.
Have a favourite arm exercise that I’ve missed? Feel free to share and link up below in the comments!