Trainer Tips: Supersets for Sculpted Arms!

What woman doesn’t dream of having sculpted, toned, defined arms? One problem area many women struggle with is the back of the upper arms, the triceps.One of my clients referred to this area as her “afterwave.” I laughed and told her, “No need to worry, I can help.”

If one wants to define this hard-to-target area, she must target all three of its heads, particularly the outer area, which “pops” and creates that spectacular-looking tricep dent. Can’t you just picture it? Neglecting the other two areas of the triceps would be a mistake because the three parts work together to press against the surface of the skin and form what is known as the tricep “horseshoe.” Exercising all three areas ensures a balanced workout and helps prevents injury in the elbow joint. All three parts of the tricep group need to be worked with proper form and technique.

A woman will never achieve the desired look of a toned, taught tricep area without also considering the biceps. This two-part muscle group in the front and inner part of the upper arm works in conjuction with the triceps. Together they  help pull the skin away from the back of the upper arm. The biceps, when developed properly, are a beautiful piece of anatomy in their own right. Beautiful biceps are known to many “great guns.”

The shoulder muscle, or deltoids, is named after the Greek letter delta, meaning triangle, for its upside-down traingular shape. It is literally in the form of an upside-down tiangle! Also known as the “delts”,  this muscle group creates a cascade of cuts that run across the front, side, and back of the upper arm and shoulder area. The shoulders, which play a BIG role in arm definition, also help create stunning definition in the upper back. I actually call this  the “Spaghetti Strap Effect” when training clients. When you have defined arms and shoulders, you will look speactacular in any little sphagetti strap number.

Are you ready? Lets SUPERSET those arms and shoulders! Supersetting is a strength conditioning technique that gives one all of the traditional benefits of resistance-based training, a tighter more toned body, improved skin elasticity, better bone density, increased blood sugar control, flexibility, strength, and lower blood pressure. Brazilian and British scientists recently proved that weight training can even make you smarter! In addition to all of this, supersetting has an added calorie burning, fat-blasting punch!  “Supersets” simply means doing two exercises, back to back, with no rest between sets. This usually refers to opposing muscle groups, such as the triceps and biceps. Supersets can also used for the shoulder area.

Tricep Extension

For example, start with 1 set of 12 tricep extensions. Now, without resting, immediately follow that with 1 set of 12 bicep curls. Then you you may rest for 30-60 seconds. Sounds easy, right? Try doing that 2-4 times in a row, and you will definately know you are getting results!

Now for the shoulders. Stand with your arms to you sides, knees slighlty bent, feet together, hips tilted forward, back straight. Use two free weights that aren’t too heavy–the shoulder joint is a sensitive area. Lift both weights, one in each hand, up and out to the sides of your body. These are called “side laterals.” Do one set of 12 repetitions. Now, without resting, do 12 overhead presses, also called military presses. Do military presses by lifting the dumbells straight up and over your head and back down to the level of your shoulder. Be careful not to lock your elbows. Rest for 30-60 seconds. Repeat 2-4 times, depending on your fitness level. Use light weights or no weights if you are a beginner.

Supersets can be applied to the entire body. This just one example of them. If you have any questions, ask one of Lucille Roberts’s certified trainers. We are here to help you! As always, check with your doctor before you begin an exercise program.

Trainer Tip by Sandra Ferrerio, certified Live Rite weight loss coach, trainer, and class instructor at Lucille Roberts in Yonkers. Read her full bio here.

Lucille Roberts Staff


  1. I really want to try this. This has been my problem area for a very long time. Is it possible to tone up this area even when its so out of shape? A few women I know have had surgery to tighten their arms but that the route I’m interested in. Should this be done every day?

  2. Shelley, thanks for these very important questions! First I must say, every woman’s issues are individual, I recommend training the target muscle group or groups with a certified Personal Trainer 1st. All surgeries are inherently risky, but this is a question for your Doctor of course. Within the scope of my profession, I can help a great deal!
    Now onto your second concern, doing supersets everyday. The Centers for Disease Control asks for a minimum of 2 days per week of Stength Training, and a total of about 150 minutes per week of Aerobic conditioning,for example 5 days per week of cardiovascular activity. You can take one of our classes, or use piece of equipment like the treadmill, elliptical or bike. It is important to remember,when it comes to supersetting or resistance training of any kind, your progress happens on your “recovery” days. This period is about 2-4 days long and it called DOMS-delayed onset muscle soreness. This rest period after weight bearing activity or DOMS is marked by chemical markers in the blood stream of fatigue, such as Creatine Kinase. You will feel a soreness in the trained area for 1-2 even 3-4 days later. This period of time is when your muscles are healing, repairing and becoming more defined.You are becoming stronger! It is a good thing. This is called Protein Synthesis. It is important not to put additional stress on this particular muscle group,for example the triceps,biceps and shoulders, during your recovery phase. One way to minimize muscle soreness and promote healthy healing is a LiveRite Protien Shake. Whey protein, especially when combined with fat free milk, such as Dr. Emily’s posted recipes, not only ups your fat burn by up to 50%, it rushes to heal,strengthen and tone the muscles. Thanks for your questions Shelley! I hope I could be of help.

  3. So many of us have that “problem area”. I can’t wait to put these super sets!

  4. I like this. Unlike some others, it doesn’t put a lot of weight on the shoulder. I just wanted to comment that you can actually tighten your triceps without any weights and even sitting at your desk. Just stick your arm out at about a 45 degree angle, and turn your palm somewhat away from your body and tighten. I find that I have to lift my shoulder to isolate the triceps. But you can obviously feel it when you get it right.

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