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Weight-lifting is one of the fastest ways to see changes in your body but too many people are scared away from it by horror stories of women turning into bulky Schwarzenegger clones as well as torn ligaments and other afflictions. The reality is nothing like that; women will firm up, not bulk up, and when you lift weights properly there’s practically zero risk that you will injure yourself. Don’t miss out on the benefits of weight lifting any longer; start one of these simple routines and be on your way to firmer muscles right away! Follow the exercises described below and incorporate them into your exercise plan at least 3 times per week, and you will start to see results in as little as three weeks. Pair you’re weight lifting up with daily cardio exercise and watch your body truly reinvent itself!

Begin by assessing your current strength level. If you are a member of a gym, the staff can help you determine the best weight for you, but if you’re a home exerciser, don’t worry. Invest in a good set of dumbbells that range in weight from three to ten pounds (more if you are an old pro at weight-lifting and expect to increase your strength considerably). Hold the 5-lb. weight in your dominant hand and do as many bicep curls as you can before tiring. If you can do more than 15 curls without feeling your muscle tire, you need to use a higher weight. On the other hand, if you were only able to do twelve repetitions or less, you should probably use a lower weight until you have built up more strength. Between twelve and fifteen reps means the five-pound weight is appropriate for you right now.

Once you have identified the right weight for you, the next step is to know the right form to use. Proper alignment is crucial to avoiding injury and getting the most out of your workout, so stand up straight as you move the weight and remember to keep your shoulders back and lifted and your head high. Imagine there is a string attached to the top of your head that is pulling your body straight. If you feel yourself begin to hunch over or slouch, stop and take a deep breath and then resume your good posture. Staying in alignment earns you the most results from your workout.

Build Upper Body Strength

This is a simple routine that you can easily incorporate to your preexisting workout schedule. Simply add these exercises three to 4 days per week and watch your muscles become shapely and defined.

Bicep Curl (tones front of arms)

The classic move, bicep curls can be underestimated and overused if you’re not careful. It’s not almost lifting a weight up and down; when done correctly, this can be one of the most powerful moves in your arsenal. Begin by holding one weight in each hand with your palms facing inward. Rotate your arms out so that your palms now face to the front and slowly lift the weight almost one hundred and eighty degrees until your palm and the weight face your shoulder. Slowly lower the weight back to its original position and then repeat. By slowing down the speed of the movement, you force the muscle to work harder than it would with the momentum of a fast action. This develops the bicep muscle faster and better. Repeat this move for three sets of 25 repetitions for each arm.

Tricep Press (tones back of arms)

The tricep muscle can be one of the most difficult muscles to develop primarily because most people do not use it very often in daily life. Running along the back side of the arm opposite to the bicep, the tricep muscle can turn flabby and droopy without exercise. The best move to tone saggy arms is to begin standing with feet shoulder-width apart with weights in hand. Take a giant step forward with your right foot, lean forward slightly and then raise the weights behind you with your palms facing the ceiling. Raise the weights toward the ceiling as far as possible and then slowly lower. Repeat this move for three sets of 20 repetitions: on the final repetition of each set, hold your arms up and gently pulse the weight up no more than a few inches. Asking your tricep muscle to squeeze every ounce of strength out of it will start to show serious results in a short amount of time.

Overhead Raise (tones shoulders)

Shoulders can be neglected when you focus on improving the arms, but having strong, healthy shoulders is vital to many everyday movements. Strengthening the shoulders will allow the arms to grow stronger as well and improve your overall upper body muscle. Begin by standing with weights in hands about shoulder height. Slowly lift the weights overhead and then lower. Repeat the movement for three sets of 25 repetitions. This move tones the muscles that run on top of your shoulder and increase performance from the bicep. When these muscles grow in strength, they complement each other and increase effectiveness as well as turning your muscles into lean, beautiful powerhouses.