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Lots of women dream of having sexy, toned arms and shoulders, but shy away from lifting weights out of fear of looking too bulky and masculine. It’s no wonder why so many of us look to First Lady Michelle Obama for our daily fitspiration. Her arms (or should I say “guns”?) and shoulders have just enough definition but not too much so that she still looks feminine.

Lucky for you, recently spoke with three fitness experts, Adria Ali, a certified personal trainer of more than 13 years and the owner and creator of The Fit Tip Daily App; Brandon Mentore, a strength and conditioning coach, functional medicine practitioner, and sports nutritionist of 15 years; and Jazmin Truesdale, a certified personal trainer and fitness consultant of more than a decade and CEO of Jazmin Fitness, on how to achieve perfectly toned arms and shoulders just in time for summer. Here are 20 tips from the experts themselves:

  1. To prevent bulking up the arms or any body part, you want to keep the volume low between three and four sets. Many people think the heavier the weight, the more bulky you get, which is possible to a certain degree. Volume is where bulk happens so if you perform six or more sets of an exercise that’s considered high volume and can cause bulkiness. – BM
  1. Stretching is an important part of any lifting routine. In a sense, stretching allows room for the new muscle fiber to be built. Make sure you stretch your shoulders, triceps and biceps. Tight muscles lead to poor form, injury and bad posture. – AA
  1. Don’t work out your biceps more than your triceps or you could develop joint problems from the muscle imbalance. – JT
  1. Arms don’t have to be worked that frequently; start off with two times a week, working your way up to three at the most. – BM
  1. Protein is the building block for muscle. Try to eat a healthy amount of protein within 45 minutes of completing weight training routine. You can also choose to supplement with Branch Chain Amino Acids for extra fast recovery. BCAAs also deliver protein building blocks directly into the muscles, which allow the muscles to grow and recovery rapidly. – AA
  1. Perform fewer exercise for biceps, but use heavier weights. There aren’t too many options to exercise your biceps so take advantage of a staple exercise like dumbbell curls and challenge yourself to get the most out of it. – BM
  1. You should perform 2-3 different exercises per muscle group. For example, your workout for biceps could include bicep curls and reverse bicep curls. – JT
  1. Start off with a weight that is challenging without being too heavy. If you can’t perform any of the exercises 10-15 times in a row, then the weight is too heavy. – AA
  1. Be careful when training shoulder muscles like the deltoids. You don’t need heavy weights as much as you need variation in the exercises you use to train them. – BM
  1. Holding a pause of one or two counts at the end point in an exercise allows for a static contraction. This will define the muscle, add an additional burn and increase the effectiveness of the exercise. – AA
  1. To train the upper triceps, perform tricep exercises that have the elbow elevated above the head, such as overhead dumbbell extensions, overhead tricep pushdowns, and the French press. – BM
  1. Yoga and Pilates require a lot of upper body and core strength so you can develop your abs and your arms and shoulders at the same time. – JT
  1. Doing shoulder and arm exercises too fast defeats the purpose. Make sure your shoulder exercises follow a 2/4 count. With a bicep curl, for example, you would perform two counts up and four counts down. – AA
  1. Muscle definition is all about body fat and the key to that is nutrition so make sure you are getting all your amino acids and B vitamins; they are great metabolism boosters. – JT
  1. There are three heads to the deltoid: front, lateral and rear. Make sure you work out all three with moderate weight to nicely cap the shoulders. – BM
  1. Have you ever noticed someone with amazing shoulders, but the minute they turn around, you notice they don’t have a nice rounded shoulder in the back? This means they aren’t working the rear deltoid muscle. In order to have beautifully round shoulders, you must do exercises, such as reverse flies. – AA
  1. It’s important to note that whatever you hold in your hand is three times the load in the shoulder. If you hold a 5-lb dumbbell to perform a shoulder exercise, that equals to about 15 pounds in the shoulder joint. Be mindful of heavy loads to prevent injury. – BM
  1. Many of my clients complain about neck pain the minute they begin to do shoulder and arm exercises. This is due to tight muscles. Make sure you stretch your neck ahead of time so you don’t injure yourself and use all the wrong muscles in the process. – AA
  1. Diet makes up 70-80 percent of your results. Eating a diet with moderate carbs (125-160), moderate fat, and a healthy calorie intake (depending on your size) makes all the difference. – AA
  1. Make sure you give your upper body 1-2 days of rest following a workout. Over working your muscles is dangerous and counterproductive. – JT
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