Arms are one of the top named areas of needed improvement for women. The problem I see in a lot of workouts is that targeting just triceps or biceps makes a fit woman’s arms still look big, not defined. We are not going to look jacked like bodybuilders from doing 100s of curls a day because, lucky us, women naturally store more body fat than men. That being said, incorporating shoulders into a female’s fitness routine is absolutely necessary to get shapely arms that look fit, not just big. Here is a great workout utilizing cables and plates that hits those shoulders and bi’s!
Perform three rounds of each superset and finish with some “Muscle Woman” Curls in three sets.
Underhand Grip Lat Pulldown: Adjust knee pad so your legs can fit easily under but are held down tightly. Make sure the wide bar attachment is on the cable machine. This time grip the bar underhand (palms facing you) and narrow (only shoulder width apart or closer). Pull the bar down towards your chest, squeezing your lats. You will definitely feel biceps more in this one, but the back is still the main powerhouse.
Plate Side Raise: Grip a plate in each hand by putting your fingers through the center hole and using your thumb and pinky finger to balance the plate. With arms slightly bent, Raise arms to shoulder height, squeezing your deltoids (found in your upper arm where it connects to the torso). Slowly lower plates back down in front of body. The plates give this movement some added difficulty simply by switching from traditional dumbbells to plates.
Cable Squat + Row: Set cable up with a regular handle and pulley system just under hip height. Grab the handle and step back from the machine. Hold a seated squat position, with abs engaged to keep the torso upright. Pull your right arm back, with elbow coming close to torso by squeezing the lat muscles in your back. Finish all reps on right side before getting the left arm, too.
Plate Front Raise: Grip a plate on either side. With arms as straight as possible (but not locked out), raise the plate in front of you until arms are at shoulder height. Slowly lower weight back down to thighs. Do this slow and controlled to really feel it in your front deltoid.
Cable Hammer Curl: Set cable up with pulley at the bottom and a v-rope attachment. I grip the rope slightly below the knobs so it doesn’t hurt my hand halfway through the set. Take a step back, Keep elbows at your sides, and curl your hands up to your chest. You will really feel this in your biceps and it will help your grip strength.
Plate Press + Overhead Raise: Grip a plate on either side. Stand tall, and with arms straight out in front of you, raise the plate up to lower chest height. Bring the weight to your chest, then press it out slightly higher than shoulder height. With straight arms, lift the weight overhead. Reverse this motion on the way down as you come back to starting position. If we tried lifting the weight straight up from our legs to overhead, it puts our rotator cuff in a weird position, which is why we bring the weight to our chest first. Also, it is important to first bring the weight to your chest when it is at lower chest height and then push it out to slightly above shoulder height. You will feel your shoulder cracking or pulling if you aren’t doing it right. So slow down and really control the movement to protect that rotator cuff. This one really works all angles of the shoulders.
Cable Curl + Cheerleader: Set cable up with regular handle and pulley at the bottom. Take one step to the side and stand lateral with the machine. With arm out on left side, curl your hand across your body up to the right shoulder. Then, with a slight body pivot, twist and press that left arm overhead for what I call a “Cheerleader” hoo-rah! This targets the biceps and shoulders.
Plate Curl + Press + Extension: Grip a plate on each side. Start stand tall with weight on thighs. With elbows at side, curl plate up towards your chest, working biceps. Then, push the weight directly overhead to work those shoulders. Finally, Keep elbows in one position in line with your head as you bend your arms with the weight behind your head, pressing it back overhead using your triceps muscles. Reverse the motion on the way back down to keep your shoulder safe. This one hits all three muscles groups you want to work in your arms!
Cable Muscle Man Curls: I always feel the strongest in this exercise! Set both sides of the cable up with regular handles and pulleys near the top (slightly under for me since I am pretty short). Grab one handle, then walk over and grab the other, then center yourself in the cable machine. Start with arms extended, elbows at shoulder height. Curl your hands toward your head like a bodybuilder posing in his show. The trick here is to keep those elbows immobile. If they start moving forward or backward, you are recruiting more than just your biceps to curls. You also do not want your elbows moving up or down, risking injury to your joints. Keep those elbows stabilized, and this is a great one for specifically targeting biceps.