Q.Would you please advise me on a way to improve the fatty upper arms? -- H. N.
You're not the only one suffering from fatty arms. A lot of women -- especially as they get older -- give up sleeveless clothing to help hide saggy flabby arm muscles. Men, though, usually don't have to worry about it. Maybe it's because men traditionally do more heavy lifting.
Anyway, your problem is centered in saggy tricep muscles, which are located on the back of your upper arms. (The front is where your biceps are.) To get triceps in shape, you need to isolate those muscles in certain positions so that they get a maximum workout. You'll see results in about six weeks if you spend 10 minutes a day on the following exercises:
PUSHUPS:tand facing a sturdy wall. Position your feet about a foot from the wall. Now, place your palms on the wall at shoulder level. Bend your elbows and lean your body toward the wall, keeping your feet flat on the ground. Slowly straighten your elbows and push your body away from the wall. When you push away from the wall, you are using the triceps. This is a modified push-up that might be easier for beginners than traditional push-ups. Complete at least 10 wall-pushes. Rest 30 seconds and then do another 10. Work up to 25. Then rest and do another 25. Once you can do that, you'll be ready for pushups on the floor.
Many women find on-the-floor pushups easier to do correctly if they balance their bodies on their knees and hands, instead of toes and hands. Make sure you keep your back straight. And watch out for your neck. You should be looking down at the floor, but don't let your head and neck slump. By bending your elbows, lower your body almost to the floor. Leave just two or three inches between your body and the floor. Then slowly straighten your elbows and raise your body. Start out with five and work up to 20.
TRICEPS TONER: Raise your arms above your head with your elbows facing away from your body. Slowly bend your your elbows so you touch your fingertips to your back. While bending your elbows, try resisting the movement. You can increase resistance by holding one- or two-pound weights. If you're weight-less, use soup cans instead. Do this for one minute and add a little more each day. Be sure to keep your arms close to your ears.
TRICEPS STRETCH:When your arms have had enough, don't forget to stretch them out. One of my favorites: Raise your right arm above your head. Bend your elbow to touch your left shoulder blade. Now, using your left arm, gently press on your right elbow. You should feel a nice stretch throughout your tricep and shoulder. Repeat by raising and bending your left arm and pushing with your right.
Q.An on-going controversy that I keep hearing: Before an aerobic workout, should you warm up first -- by brisk walking, light jogging, or stationary bicycling -- then stretch? The idea being that you can pull a muscle if you stretch it cold. Or, is it all right to stretch it first thing? -- N. N.
When "aerobics" became part of the English language and the American lifestyle in the late- '60s, most exercise gurus advocated stretching before workouts. Now, new research shows that stretching after warming up is much more effective, not to mention safer.
Think of it this way. Put a rubber band in the freezer for 10 minutes. Then take it out and stretch it. It won't stretch very far and will probably snap right in two. But if you rub that same rubber band with your hands and get it all warmed up, it will stretch and S-T-R-E-T-C-H. Same with your muscles. The chance of injury is so much higher if you ignore warming up and stretching. Stretching increases flexibility and protects you from pulling muscles when you least expect it.
See, muscles need good blood circulation to perform at their peak. So to get the blood moving to your muscles, you need to warm up for five to 10 minutes. Beginners might need a little longer to warm up. Experienced exercisers start to sweat a little sooner, which is a sign that your body is ready to stretch.
Warm up by marching in place, climbing stairs or jogging lightly. A lot of tennis pros jump rope before heading for the court. When you are ready to stretch, don't bounce. Hold each stretch at least 10 seconds. Don't hold your breath, make sure you breath normally.
Q.I like to exercise, and I find I feel better when I concentrate on my stationary bike and my trampoline. Can you please send me some information on trampoline workouts? One doesn't hear very much about it, except from the makers of the trampoline. -- M. H.
Getting your exercise by jumping on a mini-trampoline is called "rebounding." It's a great way to exercise because you can rebound indoors and running on the soft trampoline puts less stress on your joints than running on sidewalks or running paths.
To vary your workouts, try watching an aerobics video and following the workout moves while jumping on your mini-tramp. Just be careful that you don't jump so hard that you bounce right off! Remember, you should warm up for five minutes before jumping on your rebounder. Try marching in place for five minutes. Then, jump away for at least 20 minutes before a five-minute march-in-place cool-down. You could also make up your own routines to your favorite record album.
Don't forget arm exercises. Changing arm motions might give your workouts the variety you're missing. Try these: While jumping at a brisk pace, hold arms straight out so they're perpendicular to your body. Make fists and bend your arms at the elbows. Extend your right arm so that you are punching the air. Pull your right arm down and punch with your left arm. Keep punching and pulling for one minute. Next, keep jumping at a brisk pace and punch with your arms going sideways for a full minute. Then, punch in front of your body.