You're asking and I'm answering . . .
I'm in a wedding at the end of August. I feel pretty good about the way I look, but my arms always look bulky in wedding photos! I have access to equipment at the gym but was wondering if there are any general exercises that I could do without using weight machines.
— Bridesmaid to Be
Awesome question. Since summer is closer than we think, now's the time to start toning our arms and upper backs for tank tops and sleeveless dresses. There are definitely some great exercises you can do that don't require any machines. To find out what they are
Push-ups are an oldie but goodie. They're great because they focus on toning the backs of your arms and your upper back. You can do "classic" push-ups with your legs straight, or you can do them with your knees on the ground. You can also do push-ups with your legs on a step or gym ball. The decline helps to add resistance making this push-up a bit more challenging. You can also try side push-ups for an extra challenge too.
Yoga poses also help to tone your arms and upper back and you don't need any equipment for them. They work because you're lifting your own body weight. Beginner's Sage works your shoulders and abs, Crow works your arms, and Wheel strengthens your back. If you like balancing poses, holding headstand for a while, even if your feet are leaning against a wall, really works your upper back and shoulders.
If you have a set of hand weights, doing Reverse Rows in Plank position is another great move. You'll really feel the burn in your upper back and triceps. You can also use your weights to follow along with this Starter Arms Video. It targets your upper arms, shoulders and upper back.
Fit's Tips: My friend Dear also has some great advice about how to pose for pictures. She says that if you're self-conscious about your arms, put one hand on your hip, or rest your arms slightly away from your body so they don't smush out and look wider than they really are.