Spring has sprung, the sun is out, and sleeves are coming off. This signals a big business opportunity for trainers as there is a large group of women out there suffering from arm angst. Oh sure, we hate our thighs and booties, but we can cover them up with a pair of SPANX — or two. But our arms, hey, there is no pareo for your arms, and you can’t wear a shrug to the beach (not that you should be wearing one anyway). 

Thanks to Michelle Obama, arms are the new accessory, but even more than that, they symbolize empowerment and, ultimately, self-confidence. Obviously, pull-ups, push-ups and dips are a great place to start to create that great shape, but you will want to include an integrated lifestyle approach to really help your clients achieve the arms (and legs, hips, tummies) of their dreams.

In my latest book, I take the reader through a five-step program that addresses what, when and how to eat, the right type of aerobic exercise to help lean out their arms and the best exercises for great arms. These are the basics — and probably come as no surprise to you.

The two other areas I focus on that may surprise you are sleep and stress. I am guessing most clients don’t think of these as mandatory for achieving the lean, healthy body of their dreams. Of course, you need seven to nine hours of quality sleep each night to have the energy for an intense workout, but you also need this to be able to recover, repair and rebuild and to control your hormones to ensure that your appetite stays under control and you are able to use fat for fuel. You can’t outrun your hormones, and one poor night of sleep fueled by sugar and caffeine the following day can easily start a very bad downward spiral. 

Stress management is huge here, too. If your client is in a state of high stress, they are catabolic and will be breaking down muscle rather than building it. They also become better at storing fat (especially around their waistline) and raise the setpoint for burning it off. Once that acute stress moves into a chronic experience, they can actually shift in to adrenal exhaustion. This causes a phenomenon called “famine physiology,” where it is nearly impossible to build muscle or burn fat if your client even has the energy to do so!

JJ Virgin is a public speaker, media personality and author of her new book, Six Weeks to Sleeveless and Sexy, The 5-Step Plan to Sleek, Strong, and Sculpted Arms, available Spring 2010.