You are putting in all of the work to get those strong, toned arms. You exercise almost daily and lift weights but the lean arms you are wanting just isn’t happening. What is the deal? Although the answer varies from person to person because our bodies are all different, in general, there are some practical tips you can count on if you are wanting visibly strong and toned arms:
Eat More Protein
A common mistake many people make is not eating enough protein. That is great if you are watching your sugar and unhealthy fats, but intaking enough protein at the same time is also important for many reasons. Protein is not only essential for building and repairing muscle, tissue and bones, it also helps to speed your recovery after exercise and/or injury; reduces the chance of muscle loss; builds lean muscle; helps you to maintain a healthy weight, curbs your hunger and lots more.
How it works is that protein is made up of amino acids, or “building blocks,” because they are attached in long chains and are considered a “macronutrient.” A macronutrient is something you need large amounts of in order to stay healthy. Think about adding a serving of protein in each meal and make it a habit! Add lean protein to your diet such as eggs, chicken, fish and low-fat dairy products; just a 4-oz. serving of fish or chicken, contains about 28g of protein, and can help you meet your daily protein and fat loss goals.
Focus on Losing Body Fat, Not Weight
Losing weight can sometimes mean loss of muscle which will not help you get the toned body you are aiming for. Get with your trainer to start focusing on body fat loss instead. Weight loss is a drop in your overall poundage, which includes weight from muscle, water and fat whereas fat loss is only a drop in body fat. So when you are reaching your weight goal, many people try to get rid of body fat. The problem there is that fat loss isn’t always reflected as a lower number on the scale. So in other words, that sneaky scale can be deceiving, and, the last thing you want to lose is muscle if you want a strong and toned body. Learn more about fat loss, weight loss and body composition here.
No ladies, you will not get "bulky." Lifting heavy weights is an excellent tool to help you build lean muscle, reduce fat and enhance your athletic performance. It’s amazing actually! Unless you're lifting as much weight as a professional bodybuilder or following a specific plan for muscle growth and gains, lifting heavy will not make you “bigger,” ladies. If you want to lean muscle, step into that weight room and challenge yourself. That is, with a gradual increase in weights as you get stronger. Also note that alternating heavy weights for fewer reps, or lighter weights for more reps are both good for muscle strength and mass, new research shows. So do what is best for you. If you don’t know where to begin, get with a personal trainer who can guide you through the best exercises that are right for your goals.
The more you move, the more calories you burn. Burning more calories than you intake is key! On non-strength days, you can include your favorite cardio such as the elliptical, bike, treadmill or walking/hiking outside. Even on your “rest” days, you want to still get up and move around. Doing laundry, cleaning, running after the kids, taking the steps as often as you can and parking further away in the Target parking lot all count as moving. The more you move daily, the more calories you are burning. You need to intake less than what you are burning on a daily basis to see the results you want.
At the end of the day, the only person who can get motivated to reach your goals and maintain a healthy lifestyle is you. And sometimes that can be hard to prioritize your needs when you are a busy parent, have a job, stay at home, or are struggling with personal life challenges. No matter what, you can do it and the time is there - you just need to find it. Surround yourself with positive people, take baby steps and make realistic goals and you will get there!