Arm exercises: Beginner

Bent knee push-up

Body part: arms, chest, shoulders

Equipment: No equipment

Step 1

Starting Position: Kneel on an exercise mat or floor and bring your feet together behind you.

Step 2

Slowly bend forward to place your palms flat on the mat, positioning your hands shoulder-width apart with your fingers facing forward. Slowly shift your weight forward until your shoulders are positioned directly over your hands. Reposition your hands as needed to allow full extension of your body from the knees without any bend at the hips. Stiffen your torso by contracting your core and abdominal muscles (“bracing”).

Step 3

Downward Phase: Slowly lower your body towards the floor while maintaining a rigid torso and head aligned with your spine. Do not allow your low back to sag or your hips to hike upwards during this downward phase. Continue to lower yourself until your chest or chin touch the mat or floor. Your elbows should remain close to the sides of your body or flare outwards slightly.

Step 4

Upward Phase: Press upwards through your arms while maintaining a rigid torso and head aligned with your spine. Do not allow your low back to sag or your hips to hike upwards. Continue pressing until the arms are fully extended at the elbows.

Push-ups place stress upon the wrist joints. To alleviate some of this stress you may opt to use dumbbells and grip the handles rather than place your hands on the floor. If your are pressing from an elevation such as a dumbbell, you do not need to lower your chest or chin to the floor, but rather lower yourself until your chest or chin are level with the dumbbell handles.

Overhead triceps stretch

Body part: Arms

Equipment: No equipment

Stand with feet hip-width apart and roll your shoulders down and back (depress and retract the scapulae).  Reach your right arm to the ceiling keeping your shoulder down (away from your ears).  Bending at the elbow, let your right hand drop to the middle of your back, palm facing your back.  Reach your left hand to the ceiling and place your fingers on your right arm, just above the elbow, applying light pressure to deepen the stretch.  Hold the stretch position for 15-30 seconds for 2-4 repetitions; try to stretch a little deeper each repetition.

Standing shoulder extension

Body part: Arms

Equipment: No equipment

Step 1

Starting Position:  Stand in a split-stance position with the right leg in front. Stiffen your abdominal muscles (“brace”) to stabilize your spine, then depress and retract your scapulae (pull shoulders down and back) without arching your low back.

Step 2

Bending at the hips, reach forward with your right arm straight and elbow extended and place it on the table.  Maintain abdominal bracing to keep the spine in alignment.  Keeping both shoulders square to the front, flex (bend) your left elbow lifting your forearm up and forming a 90 degree angle at that elbow.

Begin extending the shoulder by maintaining the 90 degree bend in the left elbow and drawing the elbow up and back so your hand is now pointing to the ground.  Increase the stretch by keeping the shoulder in place and extending the elbow, straightening the arm with your thumb pointing down.

Hold the stretch for 15-30 seconds for a total of 2-4 repetitions.  Do not allow your head to drop towards the ground. Keep your gaze on the table.

Keep your body square to the table.  Avoid leaning into the support arm and opening the chest.  Keep your abdominals engaged to support the back.

 

Seated bent-knee biceps stretch

Body part: Arms

Equipment: No equipment

Step 1

Starting Position: Assume a seated bent-knee position, feet placed flat on the floor / mat and arms outstretched behind you with your palms flat on the floor / mat and fingers pointed away from your body.  Adjust your position to distribute your weight evenly between your feet, butt and arms, keeping your back supported in a relatively flat position (i.e., avoid arching or slumping) and head aligned with your spine.

Step 2

Gently exhale and slowly slide your butt forwards towards your feet without moving your hands. This should create a stretch through your biceps with some stretching in the anterior (front) shoulder region (anterior shoulder and chest stretch). Push yourself forward to the point of tension in the stretch, but never bounce or push to a point of pain.  Hold this position for 15 – 30 seconds then relax by returning to your starting position and repeat 2-4 times.

Step 3

Exercise Variation: This stretch can become more dynamic by performing slow, controlled movements to complete 1 set of 5 – 10 repetitions, holding the stretched position for 1 – 2 seconds.

To maximize the benefits of a stretch and reduce the potential for injury, it is important to stretch only to the point of tension, avoid bouncing, and to control movement at other segments of the body.  During this stretch, avoid any change of position of your spine (i.e., avoid arching or slumping).
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