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Many members of the Truth In Aging community have been asking me about what I’m doing to get toned (but not bulky arms). First of all, thank you for noticing. So here’s the secret – and a wonderful one it is, too. Really! My workout routine is incredibly efficient - you can have arms like mine with a five minute a day workout – and it can completely change your entire body at any age.
In this past year, at the age of 51, I have very significantly changed the shape of my body. It isn’t just leaner and more toned, it is a different shape. My first insight, the A-Ha Moment, was the discovery of a theory that different body shapes should choose the right exercises for them. And I was exercising all wrong.
I have always had, relatively speaking, a small waist, curvy hips and heavy-ish thighs. I would describe myself as pear-shaped. Anyway, I was to learn that I was really an hour-glass and that I had spent most of my adult life exercising myself into a a pear shape by focusing on exercises that I thought would slim my thighs, but were really doing the opposite (rowing, squats, running).
Don’t worry, I won’t be subjecting the world to my thighs on video. But trust me, they are now leaner and more in proportion with the rest of my body than ever before. I just wanted to make the point that it isn’t just my arms that are lean and toned. This is the result of two exercise routines that require about 17 minutes of my time about five days a week. The routines are Jackie Warner’s circuits and The Bar Method.
Jackie Warner’s circuits (you can find them in her book This Is Why You Are Fat) are designed in a particular way to give you calorie burning cardio as well as toning exercises. Each routine has six exercises – two each for upper, lower and core – and you repeat each circuit three times. This takes about 17 minutes, but if you could just do the arm exercises in about five minutes. So no excuses.
The other thing that’s good about Jackie Warner’s circuits is that there are many of them, so I can do a different one each day. This not only prevents boredom, but repetitive exercise is less effective. By changing every day, you increase the efficiency of the exercises and that’s another reason why 15-17 minutes a day is enough to see great results.
I started out with 2lb hand weights and now use 5lb weights. You will get results without weights at all, but less so. The exercises also include press ups and turbo-charged versions called wingmans. Although I don’t find these easy, I make myself do them because they help strengthen the arms and – very importantly – the wrists. I refuse to get old with fragile, spindly wrists that can't uncork a bottle of wine.
The Bar Method exercises (I work from the DVD Change Your Body) also have brilliant arm exercises. Bar (or barre) exercises are aimed at creating long, lean muscle. My new thighs owe everything to them. There are a number of variations, Core Fusion, Barre3, the Daily Method, that are pretty similar. I happen to marginally prefer The Bar Method, but I do rotate between them so that I don’t get bored or plateau.
One good thing about bar exercises (at home, you can use a chair) is that you have something hold on to for balance and there are many exercises that are kind to knees and don’t strain the hips or back. The movements tend to be very small and, although you’ll know about it from your muscles the next day, they are very doable, even for people who are exercise novices. So, again, no excuses.
With a little time investment and the will to keep it up, you can completely change your body in a few months (you’ll see results in a few days!). To paraphrase the founder of The Bar Method, Burr Leonard, have a picture in your mind of the body you want to be because everyone has it in them to change.