I loved your ab workout video! I just started going to the gym again, and it totally motivated me. I need help with arm and upper back workouts—lack of exercise has resulted in that unwanted flab you get when wearing a tank or sleeveless dress. You know, when it starts rolling out, especially in the underarm area! Thanks, Michelle. —Jamilla
Oh, Jamilla, trust me. I know very well what you’re talk about—the dreaded bra bulge.
Most of the time when people tell me that they want to work on one specific area of their bodies, I have to remind them that spot treatment only works for pimples. But thankfully, this is an area that you really can target with specific exercises. You’ll want to focus on working the pectoralis major, latissimus dorsi, and trapezius, because these are the superficial muscles (meaning the ones closest to the skin’s surface) that control the shoulder girdle and support the postural muscles. Work them and that bra bulge will melt away as your posture improves, too!
These four exercises not only target the area that affects the bra-line—they also tone your arms and abs as you stabilize through your core and lift light weights. (You’re welcome.) Ready to get started? Do this routine 2 x a week for a strong, sculpted back.
Targets: Lower trapezius, latissimus dorsi, deltoid, abdominals, biceps
Grab a 5-, 10-, or 15-pound dumbbell. Slide out to a plank position, with your abs pulled up and in and your heels and glutes squeezed together to stabilize the lower back. Place your hands about a foot in front of your yoga mat (if you’re using one), and one dumbbell to the outside of your left hand. Reach under your left armpit with your right hand and grab the dumbbell, then drag it across the floor to the outside of where your right hand started. Then switch hands and repeat with the left hand, reaching under the right armpit to grab the dumbbell, dragging it back across the floor to outside where the left hand started. Repeat 15 times, keeping your hips stable as you complete the movement and pulling your shoulder blades down (away from the ears) the entire time.
Targets: Triceps, biceps, latissimus dorsi, gluteus, hamstrings
Start with a set of 2-, 3-, 5-, or 8-pound weights. Come to a kneeling position on your mat, squeezing your glutes to stay stable. Extend your arms laterally to the side, holding a weight in each hand. Move your right thumb towards your left temple to circle your hand around your head, finishing back where you started. Simultaneously, draw your left hand towards your right shoulder blade and then extend out to your starting position. This one is tricky, so watch the video to really master it! Repeat 15 times.
Side plank knee-to-elbow
Targets: Obliques, latissimus dorsi, quadratus lumborum, deltoid, bicep, rectus abdominus
OK, the most important thing you can remember while doing this exercise is to press down through your supporting elbow as you lift up through your ribcage—that’s going to activate and tone your lats, the big muscles that start at your lower back and attach right under your armpit (aka bra bulge central). You can either hold a perfect side plank, or you can make it more of an ab exercise—I know you want to! Reach your free arm above your head, then draw your elbow and knee together to the side of you. Feel your abs contract as you do this, and try not to let your butt poke out and release behind you. Keep everything engaged and pulled in to protect your lower back. Repeat 10 times on each side.
Weighted leg lifts
Targets: Abs, triceps, lower trapezius, glutes, and hamstrings
I sort of love this one because it’s oh-so-effective at toning the triceps, improving posture, and lifting your butt! Using a 3-, 5-, or 10-pound dumbbell, come to all fours on your mat. Holding the weight in your left hand, extend your left arm behind you so it’s in line with your hip and parallel to your torso. From here, extend your opposite leg back directly behind you, with your toes pointing straight down. Move your arm and leg together, pulsing upwards about two inches every time. Repeat 24 reps on each side.
And that’s it! All of these movements complement each other and build strong arms and shoulders, a powerful core, all while erasing that bra bulge. Let me know how it goes for you, and if you have more requests, leave them in the comments below!