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How to Get Michelle Obama's Arms: The Workout Plan

President Barack Obama has a well-documented fitness regimen, but First Lady Michelle Obama is also an avid exerciser, with her toned arms making many a headline lately. Get Michelle Obama's arms with these 6 arm exercises, recommended by fitness guru Kathy Smith, to tone your biceps, triceps, shoulders, and upper back.

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Michelle Obama's tone arms
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The Michelle Obama Arm Workout

Michelle Obama has demonstrated success as a career woman, wife, and mother, but when people look at photos of the first lady, they can't help but notice one thing: her sleek, lean, muscular arms. In fact, Mrs. Obama seems to be as proud of her arms as we are envious of them, showcasing them in lovely sleeveless dresses at Congress and White House functions as well as on the covers of magazines.

But those tank top-ready limbs aren't coincidental. Obama has claimed to be a regular exerciser for years, and even now squeezes in early-morning workouts in the White House with her husband before dropping the kids off at school and going on to a busy day of meetings and events.

So, what makes those arms so spectacular? Defined shoulders, strong biceps, and a lack of triceps flab (you know, the so-called "batwing" skin that wiggles when you wave).

"You need to take a two-pronged approach to achieve beautiful arms," says Kathy Smith, creator of numerous workout DVDs, including Total Body Lift (Lions Gate, $12.99). "You need to activate the muscle with strength-training and do cardio to lower your body fat."

Try this routine with six Smith-recommended moves. Just doing these exercises three times a week (it only takes 15 minutes!) for two weeks will result in noticeably stronger arms, shoulders, and upper back. All you need are 3- or 5-pound dumbbells (two of the moves only use your body weight as resistance, which is actually even more challenging on your muscles than using dumbbells).

The weight amounts and reps given here are for beginners. If you're strong already, you can do the same routine using 8- to 10-pound weights and do the entire sequence three times rather than twice.

Do this entire sequence twice through without pausing between exercises.

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Sun Salutation

Contrary to what you might think, yoga can be more than a gentle, head-clearing Zen walk in the park. "You're lifting your own body weight in some poses," which works your arms, says Smith. "The hour class passes and you don't even realize you've spent half the class on your hands, holding poses such as Chaturanga (a lowered plank) and Downward Facing Dog."

Do the Sun Salutation 6 times to warm up your body and, at the same time, strengthen your arms, shoulders, and back. If you want, add this same sequence at the end of your workout to create more energy in your body.

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Shoulder Press Progression

Using dumbbells, do this move 8 to 12 times. Be sure to stand tall, keeping your abs engaged. Good posture will actually help sculpt your back. "Muscles such as the rhomboids and rear deltoids are the 'forgotten' muscle groups because you can't see them in the mirror," says Smith. "If you don't strengthen them too, then your upper body won't be strong."

The Shoulder Press Progression will work your shoulders, arms, and upper back.

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Dumbbell Curls

This move works the front of your arms. You can hold the weights as shown during the first sequence, but then try holding the weights with your palms facing each other to train another part of the muscle. This is a hammer curl (not shown in video). Do this move 8 to 12 times during each sequence.

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Triceps Sit

No equipment? No problem. This move strengthens the backs of your arms using just your body weight as resistance. This move does double-duty, too, as you you'll need to keep your abs engaged throughout the exercise. Do this 6 times in the beginning and work your way up to 15.

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Double Cross

Sleeveless just isn't sexy unless the backs of your arms are toned, and this surprisingly tough full-body move will definitely accomplish that. If you can't complete the Double Cross on your hands and feet, no worries: plant your knees on the floor until you're stronger. Do this move 15 times with each leg.

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Staggered Push-Ups

Push-ups are the most useful move for anyone who wants a stronger, sleeker upper body. "Every woman should learn how to do push-ups since you can do them anywhere and they use your body weight as resistance for your arm muscles," says Smith. Plus, small modifications in form (for example, hands wide apart, knees on the floor, or feet on a stool) work different parts of the arms, shoulders, and back.

Start with 5 reps and try to work your way up to 25.

Originally published on FitnessMagazine.com, March 2009.

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What do you think? Review this slideshow!

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a3984502 wrote:

Right now I am following the Diet Plan for You blog by nutrition specialist Kate Hill. Kate helped me lose weight in a healthy way in few weeks, without starving! If you want to lose weight, just visit Kate's blog at: http://dietplanforyou.blogspot.com

11/5/2011 04:01:07 AM Report Abuse
AnnieHellmich wrote:

the link seems to be broken :(

5/13/2011 11:14:56 PM Report Abuse
bermanconsulti1 wrote:

The videos don't work on this any longer. Would you please help. thanks.

4/19/2011 11:11:15 AM Report Abuse
dsimon91 wrote:

you've got to be kidding...her arms! she is no inspiration to me.

3/28/2011 08:24:46 PM Report Abuse
GRITSinIowa wrote:

the links after slide 2 aren't working for me. Please help.

3/8/2011 09:44:09 AM Report Abuse
shandadavis wrote:

The topic was Michelle Obama see the photo not Angie Jolie only a fool would work on one part of their body with her educational back ground alone I know she did not get where she is by being a fool.

3/7/2011 11:48:02 AM Report Abuse
vlskinner1 wrote:

Let her live we all know there are plenty of people who may have bette arms but this article is not about them... Bottom line is are arms look great! Stop Hating! Have a healthy day all

2/7/2011 01:37:23 PM Report Abuse
zet14 wrote:

to all the haters:stop being critical, jealous,and wishing you could look as good as Michelle, her focus and message is an inspiration to all women; it's unfortunate but some women will see the negative in everything because they don't know how to be positve; have courage, you're a work in progress-GO MICHELLE AND CONTINUE TO REPESENT SO MANY WOMEN. Zee

2/5/2010 02:25:05 PM Report Abuse
jbaglio wrote:

always about her arms. The rest of could use some toning.

1/11/2010 10:55:58 AM Report Abuse
keeganjames0 wrote:

nice workout routine,it will really help me a lot.Thanks for posting. -------------- James keegan

1/11/2010 05:37:37 AM Report Abuse
brinajoy871 wrote:

I agree with geezb! I love this workout too! you guys are just haters!

1/10/2010 12:30:37 PM Report Abuse
geezb wrote:

What's the problem? Who cares if there are others who have better arms than Michelle. They're not featured in today's article. If she inspires women to have toner arms and a healthier lifestyle, I don't see why this is ridiculous.

1/4/2010 09:22:55 PM Report Abuse
YoBFit wrote:

I agree plus does she workout or just focus on her arms. Enough already

1/4/2010 04:39:01 PM Report Abuse
emzyoder wrote:

i think this one is rediculous. there are many more people that have alot better looking arms than her! jen aniston, angie jolie. i could name atleast 20 off the top of my head.

1/4/2010 11:25:05 AM Report Abuse

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