Picture this: It’s Friday night. You’re headed out (on a date, dancing with your friends, grabbing dinner at a fave restaurant, you name it!) and hoping to feel fierce. So, you pick out one of your favorite tops—sleeveless and totally sexy. Your arms are feeling so strong. (I’m talking Natalie Portman– or Brie Larson-level defined muscles.)
If you’d like to make some version of that scenario a reality, keep reading: With this 7-minute (really!) routine from trainer Kristina Earnest, CPT, you’ll use heavy dumbbells to sculpt strong arms of your very own.
Here’s the thing about lifting heavy: Yes, it can give you more muscle definition, according to Earnest, but it’s (more importantly) beneficial for your health and day-to-day life. “A stronger upper body will improve your push-up form, help you lift objects overhead, or pull in the garbage bins,” she says. In other words, lifting heavy is a win-win.
Meet the expert: Kristina Earnest, CPT, is a certified personal trainer and leads a variety of workouts online, on her app, and IRL.
Now, you might wonder what counts as “heavy.” Good question: “It’s definitely not a one-size-fits-all type of thing,” Earnest says. Her rule of thumb is that you should be able to complete the prescribed reps properly—and the last few reps might feel a bit more challenging. That means, you shouldn’t be shaking by the second rep or flying through them all. Err on the side of caution to start, she adds, and recognize that what’s “heavy” can change based on the exercise.
7-Minute Arms-Sculpting Workout
Time: 7 minutes | Good for: Upper body | Equipment: Dumbbells and/or kettlebells
Instructions: You have the option to do this workout for time or for reps. If you’re using a timer, perform each exercise for 30 seconds, rest for 15 seconds, then move on to the next exercise. Go through the circuit twice, resting as needed between rounds. If you’re going for reps, perform 10 reps for each exercise, then move on to the next exercise and repeat for three rounds.
Workout it in: Earnest recommends adding this heavy arms workout to your routine twice a week, but not on back-to-back days to see results and let your upper bod recover sufficiently.
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