As newlywed Meghan Markle emerged from Windsor Castle with Prince Harry pre-wedding reception, all eyes were on the bride. In her second dress – a stunning fishtail gown by Stella McCartney – the high-neck, sleeveless shape showcased her ultra-toned arms; lean yet shapely and visibly sculpted.
In addition to ‘Megaformer’ Pilates, which Markle calls “the best thing you could do for your body,” barre fitness is an excellent method for achieving those chiseled ballerina-looking arms. Both require hard work. Gemma Bass-Williams, trainer at Barrecore, explains that “your arms are one of the most stubborn areas to tone”. To not only create sculpted arms, but also maintain them, Bass-Williams has shared some of her workout tips and tricks below.
Don’t be afraid of weights
“Try lifting weights: Start light and go for higher reps. Using smaller weights is great for eccentric work – that's lengthening the muscle fibres as you strengthen them, and isometric work – maintaining the same length of the muscles fibres as you strengthen, encouraging longer, leaner muscle tone with less bulk. Lifting weights and developing lean muscle using eccentric or isometric movement will continue to burn fat for a longer period of time. There are benefits to both lifting heavy with few reps and lifting lighter with more reps however, so it's good to combine the both.”
Try non-weighted moves, too
“Non-weighted arm circles are also a fantastic move for toning the arms. Lengthen your arms out to the side, making sure you can see your hands in your peripheral vision, and start circling your arms like you are drawing around a two penny piece. It is important to keep the movements small to maximise the results. Also, ensure there’s a small moment of stillness after each circle; this isometric hold will really help to tone the muscles. Finally, stretching your arms out as long as possible will generate an eccentric contraction which will really lean out the muscles.” Watch a demo here:
Combine classic push-ups
“Push-ups tone the upper body working the front and back of the arms. Start on the knees then build up to straight legs. You can vary up the move by using a bench if you're outdoors, a kitchen surface / barre at home, and switching between wide hands and narrow hands to target different areas.”
Try tricep dips for the backs of the arms
“Tricep dips are an easy move to practice at home. To build up your strength try doing as many as you can in 60 seconds. If you're new to tricep dips, start with your hands on a chair (fingers over the edge, pointing towards you) and feet on the floor, then slowly lower yourself off the seat. Make sure it's your arms that are bending though, just moving the hips up and down won't tone your triceps!”
Get with the (resistance) band
“Exercise bands are very effective for sculpting your arms, like in our ‘Sculpt’ class where we utilise the band to find a deeper burn. Using a resistance band is a very easy way to get a little deeper into sculpting the arms at home, once you know how.”