Bridal Ready Series No.1: Bridal Arms

Welcome to the first of my five ‘Bridal Ready’ blog pieces.   As a bride-to-be myself, this is a very personal diary of my own training programme in the run-up to my wedding coming up in July.  These exercises are also tried and tested with my clients over the years….so I can promise they work. 

In this week’s piece I focus on the importance of toning your arms ahead of the ‘big day’.   Often clients are worried that they will get too ‘muscly’ or look ‘unfeminine’ by training their arms, so I have really worked hard here to give you the exercises that hone and tone rather than leave you feeling bulky. 

There are no weights required for any of these exercises and it is always amazing to me how much you can tone the arm muscles with just body weight and gravity at work!  So, roll out your mat, choose a motivating playlist and lets start moving…

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Neck and Shoulder Rolls:

Start by standing with feet parallel and a tall posture.   Always keep a little softness in the knees but a sense of length through the spine and an active core throughout. 

Roll out the neck left to right and right to left.  I never teach a circle all the way round as I find it really aggravates sensitive necks. If you suffer with a lot of neck tension try to do this a few times a day.

Arm circles with a deep squat:

Without locking arms squat and take the arms to the floor brushing the fingertips to the mat and then circle over head as you extend the legs. 

Do approximately 4 in each direction making sure you breathe deeply as you circle. 

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Non-Weighted Arm Work​

These are so fantastic for toning the back of the arms. You really cant do enough of these! 

Standing with the feet in a ‘V’ with legs long and active squeeze of the legs, glutes and core.

There are 3 variations here:

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Mini circles:

Arms come to a T-shape with long active fingers: take slow circles the size of a starter plate then speed them up.

 Do approximately 30 seconds in each direction with the sensation of the arms pulling away from the centre and shoulders gliding away from your ears.

Pat Backs:

Rotate the palms to face the back of your space. Press back three times and hold on the last one for just a second.   Imagine you are pushing against a huge balloon and feel the back of the arms and the back body working.   It can really help to visualist the ‘V’ of muscles on your back! You can start slow and then speed up but the key point is the hold on the 3rd press.

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Low v/High V:

Arms start in a low V and  then you take them to a high V.  You have the option to raise the heels as you raise the arms to the high V.   Start slow and controlled and then speed up, aim to do 30secs – 1 minute! If you go for it, this is actually cardio believe it or not!

Kneeling core and arms:

Come to all 4s with the wrists under the shoulders and the knees directly under your hips.

Keeping your spine neutral and your abdominals drawn in like you are wearing a corset, lift the knee 1 inch off the ground to a hover.   

Keep hovering and take mini-bends and extensions of your arms with the elbows pointing backwards.

Aim for x8 presses then lightly rest the knees down. Repeat!

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Press Ups:

You can do these modified with the lower legs on the mat and toes long.   Or you can do it in a full plank when you are ready.  Hands are as wide as your mat with the fingers slightly turned inwards to protect the wrists.

Take three counts to lower the chest towards the mat and then dynamically push up on one count. Remember to inhale as you lower and exhale as you press up!

Aim to do about 10-15 reps and if you want to tone up even more, then add some single press-ups with the same dynamic push up and exhalation as before. Go for it! 

Forearm rocks and leg lifts:

Bring the forearms down onto the mat making the number 11 with the fingers pointing to the front edge of your mat.   From there squeeze the legs together and come into a strong plank post with tight abs and a long line from the crown of the head to the heels.

Whilst staying strong and stable, simply rock the whole shape forward and back x5 and then lift one leg just a couple of inches with a pointed foot and active glutes.  Take 5-10 little raises then repeat the rocking then repeat the same sequence on the other leg.  Remember you can take a break by briefly resting the knees lightly to the mat but not collapsing the plank completely ….then jump back in!

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Side Planks:

Rest on one forearm with your feet stacked or staggered, one in front of the other. If you need to modify further, you can bend the underneath knee and rest it on the mat for extra support.

Press the hips up to the sky with the option to reach the top arm as well.   Focus in on the underneath arm pushing the floor away and actively drawing the underneath shoulder down the back.  The abdominal work is just a bonus! 

Begin to lift the hips up and down about one inch in each direction. Remember to do this on both sides and aim for 20-30 seconds of mini-hip lifts.

Triceps Dips:

These are so fantastic for toning the back of the arms. You really cant do enough of these! Here are two variations:

Seat on the floor:

With the hands behind the body just a few inches away from you and the fingers towards your seat start to bend your elbows and then press the arms long.   You want to imagine squeezing a balloon between your elbows and at the same time open your chest and raise your eyeline….make it proud!

Seat Off the floor:

Same set up but this time you hover your seat off the floor and keep it hovering as you bend and stretch through the elbows.   Second variation is to hold a slight bend and little ‘wraps’ of the elbows inwards squeezing towards that imaginary balloon.  I always say imagine you were wearing the most amazing diamond necklace….open the chest, lengthen your neck and show it off!!!

Watch the series introduction