There’s so much to admire about our First Lady, but I’m a shallow kind
of person whose biggest question, after listening to her speak the
other night at the Democrat convention, was:
How’d she get those arms?
I mean, they hypnotized me. Not a flap in sight. And they sort of
GLOWED. Does she oil them? Shapely, yet bulging. The promise of
strength. She wears a sleeveless top like no one else.
The polls say she’s more popular than her husband; after watching her
speak, I thought she could also beat her husband in an arm wrestling
match, and Romney, too! (Maybe not Ryan, whose workout is notoriously
insane). Wouldn’t it be nice if all elections were settled by arm
How many hours, I asked myself, does she spend in the gym? My
guesstimate: a bajillion. She’s just PRETENDING to be busy making life
better for military families, and addressing the national catastrophe
of childhood obesity, not to mention raising two adolescents.
OK, I knew that I didn’t know, so I called my friend (and trainer)
Wendy Grace, co-director of the Mission Fitness Center in San Marino.
One of the things I love about Wendy is her compassion for
exercise-challenged persons like myself, and the diversity of people
who come to the gym, from teens to seniors, beginners to pros. If anyone knows what it takes to build Michelle Obama arms, it would be Wendy.
Wendy explained that first of all, to get a toned look, people have to
fix their diet. “80% of looking fit has to do with having a good diet. Meaning watching your caloric intake.”
Second, Wendy explained, you can’t just go in the gym and exercise
just your arms. You have to work all the muscle groups. “If you only
train your arms, you’d look really weird. You have to have an overall
program, lower body and upper body, to achieve that toned look.”
The arm specific exercises that can achieve results, Wendy said, include:
-Chest press, in which the arms push weights
horizontally away from the body;
-Back row, in which weight is pulled toward the body;
-Shoulder press, which pushes weight overhead;
-Bicep curl, flexing the arm toward the chest;
-Tricep exercises. You should first start with a press down and then an overhead tricep movement, which ends with a tricep extension. “The tricep area is the area that gets flappy with age, if you don’t get into shape,” Wendy says. (View pictures for tricep movements)
With all these exercises, Wendy says, “You have to hit it pretty
hard,” which scared me, until she explained that it means you have to
take your muscles to a fatigued state “Musicle fatigue is what builds
and shapes the muscle.” Fatigue means that you can barely do the last
several reps with proper form. (If your form starts to decay, STOP).
Can anyone do it? “Anybody could have arms like that if they put that
effort behind it,” Wendy said.
And what about my estimate of a bajillion hours a day in the gym? Nah,
Wendy said, I’m way off base. “You need at least two hours a week for
upper body exercises, another hour for the lower body, for a total of
three hours a week. Plus cardio might take another hour and a half on
top of that. So for 4 ½ hours a week, you could reach that level of
Thanks to Michelle ‘s example, I predict that America’s going to build
better, stronger, middle-class arms, from the shoulders out.