This 30-Day Challenge Will Sculpt Your Arms Like Crazy

Having strong arms is so much more than a pass to show off in sleeveless tops. It’s the key to being able to hold your own. “Every action you do in daily life has resistance, whether it’s an ounce (like when you’re mailing a letter) or 100 pounds (like when you’re hoisting a heavy suitcase),” says Rui Li, NASM-certified personal trainer and owner of CakeFit, a personal training service in New York City. “What’s more, our muscles respond to load-bearing. If we only move our arms through the air, we’re not really training for any realistic environments that we’ll be in.”

But that doesn’t mean all good strength workouts require weights. While certainly effective, they are difficult to tote around (by definition, they're heavy!) — and often unrealistic to stash in your 300-square-foot studio. Enter resistance bands. These rubber tubes outfitted with handles provide a portable, lightweight, and inexpensive way to strengthen and tone the upper body. “Plus, the tension doesn’t actually let up with bands,” Li says. “They create the opportunity to focus on control as you perform each rep.” This slowed-down action means all sorts of muscles, including ones in your core, get a workout.

The three moves of Li’s 30-day challenge use bands to target the upper body from all angles, providing a well-rounded routine for the shoulders, chest, biceps, and triceps. Follow the calendar on the next slide, and post-workout, refuel and rebuild your muscles with protein-packed Muscle Milk. Let’s do this.
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The Plan
The program kicks off with an intro workout to all three exercises and then switches between light and hard workouts to keep your muscles guessing. Enjoy the rest days — your body will need them to build taut, lean muscle.

When there are multiple exercises on the same day, complete one set of each without breaks in between. Where you see "x3" or "x4," repeat the entire circuit that many times, pausing for one minute between rounds.

Finally, to get the most from your workouts, choose a band tension that makes you work. “If you don’t feel like it’s getting hard to finish off the last few reps, you need more resistance,” Li says. “The magic number is 10 reps. If you can do a full 10 and it’s easy, you’ve got to go up.”
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Photographed by Filippo Del Vita.
Chest Press
You’ll feel this one most in your chest and triceps. Loop the resistance tube underneath or around the bench (or sturdy coffee table) on which you’ll be lying. Get into position, lying face up, so your upper back is right above the loop. You may need to loop the tube around again or tie it in a knot; you want it to be short enough that your arms will have some tension when you’re holding the handles on either side of your chest, elbows wide at 90-degree angles. Inhale, then exhale as you press your hands up above your chest, bringing them close together but not touching — your arms will be nearly straight but not locked out. Inhale as you slowly bring hands back down to the start position.

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Photographed by Filippo Del Vita.
Bent-Over Row
Here, you’ll hit the back and biceps while also working the stabilizing muscles in your core. Step on the band with your feet hips-width apart — you might need to loop the band around your sneaks a few times so there's tension from the exercise’s start to finish. Grasp the handles, and hinge down at the hips by sending your butt back, stopping with your back at around a 60-degree angle with the ground. Keeping your chest broad and your belly button pulled in to protect your spine, inhale, then exhale as you row your elbows back close in by your sides — not flared or winged out. Inhale as you release.

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Photographed by Filippo Del Vita.
Overhead Press
This move helps you develop stronger shoulders with an assist from the triceps. Step on the band with feet hips-width apart. Keep abs tight and glutes squeezed to engage them. Place the band behind your elbows with its handles resting in your palms, thumbs wrapped, hands just in front of shoulders. Inhale, then exhale as you press the handles straight up until your arms become parallel beside your ears. For the full strengthening benefits, do this slowly and with control, both on the lift and release back down (during which you’ll inhale).

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Photographed by Filippo Del Vita.
The Refuel
Hard-worked muscles crave protein to rebuild. A Muscle Milk® Organic Protein Shake provides 20 grams per serving — more than three large eggs — and is a whole lot easier to take on the go. Train on.

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