Machines or Free Weights
If you’ve waited until 60 for your first foray into exercise, it’s a good idea to start with machines, because they usually come with posted instructions and assist you in maintaining proper alignment. You should also check with your physician to see if there is any exercise you should avoid. If you are already familiar with proper technique, which generally means not locking your elbows or knees and keeping your head, back and pelvis aligned, and simply want to concentrate more on your arms, you can use dumbbells or resistance tubing. There’s no reason why a 60-year-old woman can’t use barbells as well. However, dumbbells allow for more varied exercises while still allowing you to lift heavy weight if you get to that point.
The classic biceps exercise is, of course, the curl, where you start with your arms extended and bring your fists up toward your shoulders. For best effect, give it a squeeze at the top of the move and keep your elbows tucked into your body. Starting with a neutral grip — palms facing in — and rotating the forearm to a supinated — palms up — grip during the move, works your forearms as well. Progress to doing curls on a bench inclined to about 45 degrees or work your biceps unilaterally with concentration curls. Sit on a bench with your knees bent at 90 degrees. Lean slightly forward from your hips and at a slight angle so that you can place one elbow against the inside of your knee. Complete the curl as you normally would.
Triceps extensions can be done in numerous ways. Start holding one weight in both hands, dangling it from one end in what is called a “sweetheart” grip. With your elbows close to your ears and pointed up, extend your arms without locking your elbows. If possible, try to lightly touch the base of your neck with the loose end of the dumbbell on the return. You can also do this unilaterally or lying face up on a bench, supporting your working arm by placing your free hand just under your elbow. Next try a triceps kickback, placing one hand and knee on the same side of your body, on a bench. With a weight in your free hand, fully bend your elbow, keeping your upper arm tucked into and in line with your torso, then slowly extend your arm back. Do one set on each side.
Putting It Together
Working all of your major muscles — chest, shoulders, back, legs and abs — in addition to your arms will keep you healthy and your bones and joints strong. As you only need to work your muscles on two to three nonconsecutive days, you can devote one of those days to just upper arms for better firming. Always warm up and cool down with 10 minutes of cardio or dynamic stretching in the areas you are going to work. For arm stretching, extend your arms out behind you to get a stretch in your biceps. Grab your elbow and pull your arm across your body or behind your head to stretch your triceps.