After reaching menopause, you’ll start losing bone mass at a much faster rate. During those years, the risk of osteoporosis -- a condition in which bones weaken and become more likely to break -- increases. Resistance training not only helps you to rebuild atrophied muscles but also counteracts the detrimental effects of menopause on your bones. Even women ages 80 and over can engage in strength training to maintain an independent lifestyle. Upper arm exercises with weights can help you isolate and tone your biceps and triceps.
Load and Lift
When you train your upper arms with weights, aim to perform exercises for the opposing muscles, or the biceps and triceps. While your biceps help you to flex your elbows, your triceps are the prime movers for extending your elbows. If you haven’t lifted weights before, begin with eight to 12 reps per set. Your load, or the amount of weight to use, should be about 70 to 90 percent of the maximum amount of weight you can lift for one repetition of the exercise. If you find the exercise difficult, lighten the weight and perform more reps, concentrating on proper form. In addition to warming up with five to 10 minutes of light cardio, which can include jumping jacks, jogging or walking on a treadmill, you can do a warm-up set. Perform 10 reps with about half the load to acclimate your muscles to the movements of the exercise.
After performing a few weeks of biceps curls to strengthen the front of your upper arms, you’ll find lifting a gallon of milk to be a breeze. Begin by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and holding a dumbbell in each hand. Your arms should be fully extended and down by your sides with palms facing your body. Exhale and bend your elbows to slowly raise the weights toward your shoulders on a count of two. Rotate your forearms so your palms turn to face you. Keeping your elbows pinned to your sides, hold the peak position for a second. Inhale and return to starting position on a count of four. Rotate your forearms on the descent so your palms face your legs at the bottom of the movement. Perform two sets of eight to 12 reps.
Shrink the Wings
As you age, the muscles on the backs of your arms, or triceps, can start to sag like a pair of flabby wings. To strengthen these muscles and trim the wings, perform various isolation exercises for your triceps, such as extensions, push-downs or kickbacks. Begin a kickback by standing on your right side next to a bench. Bend forward at the waist at almost 90 degrees and place your bent right knee on the bench. Extend your right arm and place your hand on the bench to provide support. Hold a dumbbell in your left hand by your side, bending your left arm at a 90-degree angle. Exhale and slowly straighten your left arm, extending it directly behind you. Inhale and return to starting position.
High Cupboards, No Problem
If you want to reach for those soup cans high up in your cupboard and not have them fall on your head, perform an overhead press to strengthen your upper arms, shoulders and back. Begin by standing with feet shoulder-width apart and holding dumbbells in your hands. To establish your starting position, bend your arms to lift the weights to your shoulders, palms facing away from you. Exhale and slowly extend your arms to the ceiling, pressing the weight upward on a count of two. Avoid locking your elbows at the top of the movement. Hold the peak position for a second before returning to starting position on a count of four. Perform two sets of eight to 12 reps, resting for one to two minutes between sets.
- Fitness Professionals Guide to Strength Training for Older Adults; Thomas R. Baechle and Wayne L. Westcott
- Bending the Aging Curve: The Complete Exercise Guide for Older Adults; Joseph F. Signorile
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Growing Stronger – Strength Training for Older Adults: Physical Activity Stage 2
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Growing Stronger – Strength Training for Older Adults: Why Strength Training?
- NHS Choices: Osteoporosis
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