Madonna’s Trainer Reveals How You Can Get Those Killer Arms

05/28/2015 at 12:54 PM ET

Madonna arms Kevin Mazur/Getty

Madonna has one of the best bodies in the world, and when it comes to her arms, well, no one has her beat. (Sorry, Michelle Obama!)

How does she keep them so shapely and toned?

“We focus on body weight training,” says Craig Smith, Madonna’s personal trainer, who “utilizes dance to tone the entire body, plus a mix of asana yoga, Bar Method and a lot of hybrid Pilates programs to give that nice, sleek look to her arms.”

As for her workouts in general, “switching it up gives her variety and keeps it interesting,” says Smith, creative director of the pop star’s fitness brand Hard Candy Fitness. “Her body doesn’t plateau. It’s always in a guesswork state. Her body is always changing in a positive way.”

Madonna, who “in a perfect week, works out six days” also uses weights on the lighter side to ensure perfectly toned arms. “We never go over 5 lbs.,” says Smith. “The range is from 2 to 5 lbs.”

And while the pop icon has an intense workout schedule, Smith says it’s all about balance. “The main thing we focus on is keeping her energy levels up,” he says, while also stressing the importance of getting adequate rest. “The recovery time is just as important as the workout time.” He also describes how she engages in workouts of different intensity levels. “Even though we work out six days a week, notice that we are doing yoga. Yoga isn’t going to be taxing on the body. It’s focused on a completely different dynamic, like breathing and like rebuilding wear and tear from more rigorous, high-intensity workouts.”

Want to try Madonna’s lean muscle-building workouts? Of course you do! Smith shows off two of the star’s go-to exercises.

Bicep/Shoulder Series

Madonna workout Courtesy Craig Smith

Technique Tip: From your base move, come into Parallel Squat, arms in extension at sides holding 3 to 5 lb. dumbbells in hands. Send hips back grounding through feet, and bring thighs parallel to floor, knees stacked over ankles behind toes, feet facing forward. Drive into heels, come to an upright standing position, squeezing glutes. Move back into squat position, and as you come back into upright stand again, draw elbows tight into sides, and hammer curl weights up to shoulders, toning biceps. For the end of this series, transition back into squat position, layer in the hammer curl once more, and add shoulder press. Complete series for 60 seconds seamlessly, focusing on quality of movement. Repeat for 3 sets.

Yoga Asana Series

Madonna workout Courtesy Craig Smith

Technique Tip: Using your body weight as resistance, from a Child’s Pose start position with neutral breathing. Send sit bones towards heels, elongating spine and extending arms out in front of body keeping elbows lifted. Inhale, flow to Upward-Facing Dog, opening chest, and depress shoulders down the back, actively pushing through hands. Exhale, into Downward-Facing Dog lifting sit bones to ceiling, stretching the back of your thighs and bringing chest to front of thighs. Inhale to Plank keeping abdominals engaged, working the shoulders, chest, triceps, and actively lifting through the thighs. Exhale, lower to hover position over mat, working triceps, and return to top of series starting pose. Repeat series for 5 sets moving with the flow of your own breath.

–Michelle Ward Trainor

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The Latest Craze in Disco Styles Is See-Through Jeans—but Beware of Foggy Bottoms
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The Latest Craze in Disco Styles Is See-Through Jeans—but Beware of Foggy Bottoms

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On a clear day, you can see forever—or at least that’s the wicked thought behind L.A. designer Agi Berliner’s transparent idea: see-through jeans. Exhibitionists notwithstanding, most folks wear them over bathing suits or as attention-getting evening wear with halters, garter belts and body stockings. Created for the disco crowd, the $34 jeans are selling like, well, hot pants. In just six weeks, 25,000 pairs have already been sold in such major department store chains as Macy’s, Bonwit’s and Saks.

“What’s limiting American designers is that we’re afraid to do something different,” says Berliner, 32, a Hungarian émigré who fled with her family to the U.S. in 1956. Agi thought up the gimmick in London while marveling at the way plastics were being employed by designers of punk fashion. In her L.A. office, where she designs for La Parisienne junior sportswear, Agi spent five days on the phone and six weeks testing to come up with the right plastic.

Agi herself tried out the French-cut jeans with the zipper in front, and quickly found several problems: Some plastics tore away from stitching, others wouldn’t bend and all fogged with perspiration. The ideal material proved to be a vinyl supplied by a bookbinder. The steam was eliminated with a series of vents behind the knees and in the crotch. “They’re no hotter than polyester pants,” claims Agi, “and if you wear them with tights, they won’t stick to your legs.”

Whatever the discomfort and despite the problem of Saturday night feverishness, discomaniacs report one major advantage of the plastic pants: no laundry bills. To keep Berliner’s see-through jeans clear, all the wearer needs is a little Windex.

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Showing 31 comments

Christina on

She has the arms of a malnourished migrant worker, WHY would I want to follow suit?!

FelicityJune on

I give it to her that she is obviously super driven and disciplined about her looks, but I think she looks awful. I know women her age that look way better and more natural and feminine. Maybe it’s the way she dresses in order to keep up with the teens around her, but I don’t think she looks good at all!!

Andrea Dethmers on

Why do these trainers keep talking about “toning” and using 2-5lb weights? That is not the way to stronger arms. I guarantee you that her arms are muscular because of other things besides the little baby weights. If that was the case her arms would look like crap. Regardless her arms aren’t that great looking anyway so maybe there is some truth to this. I’ll keep lifting real weight above 10 lbs.

guest on

I don’t find her arms to be killer. Just like I don’t think women should have six pack abs (its not feminine) I don’t think women should have weight lifter (boyish looking) arms. We are girls we are supposed to have the nice violin shaped stomach and nice toned arms but not muscley.

Kats on

How about she fixes her teeth and sense of style, a style for someone her age!

Guest on

It’s hilarious to read women saying “we should be feminine” when femininity and masculinity is socially constructed. That means that if you were placed back in the 1950s you’d conform to being beaten and raped by your husband because society told you that women are to endure that AND that if it happened to you it was because YOU provoked him. Get a brain and THINK for YOURSELF. Lol

FYI: I’m a man.

Rain on

That’s pretty scary that her body is considered one of the best and her arms are considered good. Her arms are even ropier, veinier, and scarier than Angelina Jolie’s, and her body is basically a man’s at this point. Ew!

guest on

Uhm Guest where is your logic? Because I personally don’t believe women should have arms that look like a man’s I all of a sudden think women should be beaten? Let’s try to use our heads before we post ridiculous scenarios that have nothing to do with the article or the comment shall we?

Barbara on

o m g . . . I’m embarrassed to be a woman at this point because all of these posters are so god awful and stupid. Madonna is incredible – her body is one of the best in the world – even if you prefer a fuller figure, there’s no denying she’s in phenomenal shape. For the idiots posting about wanting to look soft and feminine – take a time ship back to the 50’s cuz that’s were you belong. Freaking embarrassed – what a gong show.

Bijoux on

o m g . . . I’m embarrassed to be a woman at this point because all of these posters are so god awful and stupid. Madonna is incredible – her body is one of the best in the world – even if you prefer a fuller figure, there’s no denying she’s in phenomenal shape. For the idiots posting about wanting to look soft and feminine – take a time ship back to the 50’s cuz that’s were you belong. Freaking embarrassed – what a gong show.

Guest on

Clearly, you only have a 6th grade language comprehension, “Uhm Guest.”

Curtis on

Why can’t people say nice things about women? ever notice how prevalent women hate is online. Stop everybody!

Jessie on

Madonna looks super fit as usual!

Pixi on

That’s the best her arm looked in years it’s a shame she paid a trainer to help her achieve man arms. Then again she paid someone to muck her face up.Women can look strong and feminine. For her age she she looks darn good

isa on

This is exactly how I DON’T want my arms to look.

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