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3 Push-up variations to take your arm workout up a notch

Maggie Giuffrida is a graduate of The University of Arizona where she earned a degree in journalism. She is a contributing writer for SheKnows, specializing in health and fitness. Maggie is a certified yoga instructor and health and well...

How to change up your push-up for a fast, strong arm workout

The arms are often considered a trouble zone when it comes to the female bod, but with the right moves and proper nutrition, it's totally possible to make them rock hard.

Natalie Yco, a certified personal trainer, group fitness instructor and Fabletics master, says the arms are typically a place where women tend to store fat, making it an obvious target area to tone.

"Unfortunately, women tend to avoid lifting weights due to their fear of getting bulky," she tells SheKnows. "However, they don't have the same amount of muscle-building testosterone as men. To get sexy, toned arms, they need to incorporate weight and cardio training into their exercise regimen."

And trust us, Natalie knows a thing or two when it comes to ripped arms (just check out her pics below). The Los Angeles-based fitness guru stays in tip-top shape by working out six days a week, with Sunday being her rest day. Her routine varies daily and is a mixture of the classes she teaches — cardio kickboxing, metabolic circuits and her own signature class, Best Butt Ever — as well as CrossFit, mixed martial arts and at least one yoga class per week.

More: 9 Tennis ball stretches for sore muscles

"Exercise not only makes me physically strong, but it makes me mentally tough," she says.

Natalie notes that proper nutrition is key when it comes to getting and maintaining a healthy body.

"I tell my students they can work their abs and have a strong core, but if they truly want to see all of the work they have done, it's really about what they eat and drink."

She also suggests switching up your workout routine every 3-4 weeks to keep the body guessing and prevent it from plateauing. And to jump-start us on our journey to a tight and toned body, she let us in on a few of her secret moves, which only take a few minutes to do and help take the arms from flab to fab in no time flat.

1. Diamond push-ups

"Statistically shown to be the best push-up to target your triceps," Natalie says.

How to change up your push-up for a fast, strong arm workout

Start off in a traditional push-up position (you may prefer to start on your knees). Place your hands beneath your chest with your index fingers and thumbs touching, forming a "diamond" shape with your hands. Engage your core and maintain a neutral spine. Slowly lower your torso to the floor without allowing your hips to sag or rise up. On an exhale, slowly raise back up to the starting position. Perform 8-10 reps.

2. Push-up to tricep dips

"A great tricep killer combo," Natalie says.

How to change up your push-up for a fast, strong arm workout

Perform a traditional push-up (either on toes or modified on your knees), then immediately flip your body over and perform one tricep dip and repeat.

How to change up your push-up for a fast, strong arm workout

To perform the tricep dip on the floor, place your hands face down on each side of your hips with fingers facing forward. With your legs extended for more intensity, or bent for a modified position, slowly raise your butt off the floor until your arms are extended, making sure to squeeze those triceps. Then, lower towards the floor until your arms are in a 90-degree angle. Perform 12-20 reps.

More: A 10-minute power ab workout

3. Push-up with a kick

"This move includes my favorite tricep kickbacks!" says Natalie.

How to change up your push-up for a fast, strong arm workout

Get into a plank position with a dumbbell underneath both hands (if a dumbbell hurts your wrist, you may start with hands on the floor and pick up the dumbbell as you begin to perform the kickback). Next, lower your body towards the floor. Slowly raise your body back up to the start position of your push-up. Position your right arm parallel and close to your body. Lift the dumbbell off the floor and bend your elbow to a 90-degree angle. Then, extend your arm back to contract the triceps. Lower and repeat on your left side.

Images: Fabletics

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