, Standards of Black BeautyMy Quest For Michelle Obama Arms

My Quest For Michelle Obama Arms

I make no bones about the fact that I love our First Lady. Did I adore Laura Bush? Yes, but something about Michelle Obama just rocks to me.

Maybe it’s just her arms.

I’m not playing either. She looks like she puts effort – actual effort – into those bad boys!

I know that the media had a field day with her figure. She was too toned. Women are supposed to be soft, curvaceous

[but not too curvy, lawdy lawdy heaven forbid we see too much of a curve], and reflect no form of masculinity. Like muscles.

Forget all that. I am soft. I am feminine. But if I leave these arms the way that my weight loss left them, I’m going to look like an old beat up pillow. Unacceptable. I want arms like hers… not cotton-stuffed appendages like what I’d been stuck with.

For me, I know that in order for me to get my arms looking normal again after this weight loss, I’m going to have to build some serious muscle. There was never any bulk there before – only fat. Honestly, it used to make me uncomfortable – if I really took a good look at myself before I left the house some days, I’d stop and turn sideways… try to flex my arm in hopes that some shape would appear… sigh and shrug it off… then go on about my partying. Not like I could build muscle in ten minutes before doing what I had to do, right?

I must admit, the past 8 months have been exciting for my upper body. I can finally see my collarbone. My spare tire is fading away, and an actual slope is appearing in my backside. My back fat is shrinking, and my breasts have shrunk (from a 42DD to a 34C.) How am I doing on my journey?

I’m sure the next question is, “HOW?” The answer, really, is not a silly shake weight or a “perfect push up” machine.

Between yoga and push ups, I’ve been able to tone up my arms, my back, and even keep the skin of my breasts taut. Why? If you take a look at one of the yoga episodes I’ve posted on the site, you’ll be able to identify how much you have to lift, stretch, pull and tug those arms. The plank position – a common yoga pose that looks a lot like a push up without the drop down – works not only your back, but the ligaments in your chest that tighten and lift your breasts. Add to that the fact that it works both your biceps and your triceps (your outer and inner upper arm area?) You’re in there like swimwear.

For me, these are the best options. These are things that I can do at home without purchasing any equipment and without needing to be at a gym. I just click “play” on a yoga video on this site, and I go for it. I’m still a little flabbier than I’d like for myself, but I’m pretty proud of how far I’ve come.

So, in the meantime… I’m going to continue to stare lovingly at these photos of a sleeveless First Lady Obama (not in a creepy way, though) and keep on with my push-ups and my yoga routine.. and hope that you’ll join me!

Got tips? Questions? Ideas? Share ’em!

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By | 2017-06-10T11:25:34+00:00 April 3rd, 2014|My Journey, Standards of Black Beauty|29 Comments

About the Author:

The proud leader of the #bgg2wlarmy, Erika Nicole Kendall writes food and fitness, body image and beauty, and more here at #bgg2wl. After losing over 150lbs, Kendall became a personal trainer certified in fitness nutrition, women's fitness, and weight loss by the National Academy of Sports Medicine. She is also certified in sports nutrition by Precision Nutrition. She now lives in New York with her husband and children, and is working on her 6th and 7th certifications because she likes having alphabet soup at the end of her name.


  1. Helena Thornton February 18, 2010 at 9:13 AM - Reply

    Hey I wish I Had your arms, in NC it’s too hot for long sleeves so I go out with my crazy arms swinging, but I’m a try the yoga and see if it tightens up.

    • Erika February 18, 2010 at 9:19 AM - Reply

      Thank you! 🙂 My biggest piece of advice is to just be patient, and it’ll come along quite nicely!

  2. Kandi February 18, 2010 at 1:49 PM - Reply

    I thought I was the only one who fantasizes about the First Lady’s arms. Her arms are my goal. I’ve started doing yoga and strength training and I can see small improvements. The key for me is staying consistent.

  3. Lamide February 18, 2010 at 7:06 PM - Reply

    I love her arms, too. I used to work out 5 days a week, felt like I was getting too bulky, and now I barely work out at all, but I need to tone back up. Will try the yoga, cuz I also like Pilates…don’t wanna get all hulk-like! LOL

    • Erika February 18, 2010 at 8:06 PM - Reply

      Kandi, consistency is such a big thing! That’s actually my downfall right now. Building my at-home workout plan was one thing… but being consistent with my cardio so that my hard work can show is another thing entirely. Yikes!

      Lamide, I definitely feel that “too bulky” thing! That was my first worry, too. But since my original view of “too bulky” is exactly what I am now, LOL, I’ve decided to just enjoy myself and let it take me where I’m set to go. Besides.. I’m sure anything would be better than mashed potato arm, LOL!

      Someone else recommended pilates to me, as well – gonna have to check it out on FitTV or something. LOL

      • Rooo March 21, 2013 at 12:10 AM - Reply

        You know I’m thirding the Pilates here, LOL.

        We always plank at the end of class for close to two minutes (which you can do at home) and though I swear and I fuss, it’s not just the arms that are tightening up from all the planking.

        Anyone having trouble with wrists, put down a pair of mousepads, clasp the hands in front, plank on the forearms. Keep those shoulders down! Tummy in! 🙂

  4. PhluffyPrincess February 19, 2010 at 7:43 PM - Reply

    i agree with you 100% – i love her arms!!! my arms are my #1 problem area, yes even over my stomach! yours are looking really awesome, good job!

  5. Lillie March 23, 2010 at 11:35 AM - Reply

    I am working on my arms for entirely a different reason – to better my golf swing. However, my niece just might be able to give Michelle some competition. Her arms are toning up nicely and she’s working on getting even better results. Kudos to Michelle for setting standards and goals for all of us to live up to!

  6. misssamuel April 5, 2010 at 5:41 PM - Reply

    I assure you that the arms of Madame Obama are completely attainable!! They just take a lot of work, meaning lots of cardio and strength training combined. Women tend to be afraid of lifting heavy weights because they think that it will make them “bulky.” But I assure you that Michelle O lifts lots of weights to get arms like that. Bulkiness is not not something to fear because women lack the testosterone to quickly build giant muscles– not to mention that most women don’t eat like bodybuilders. So go ahead and lift heavier weights. Your body won’t turn into the form of a She Hulk. Muscle = curves… tighter curves! And if you want that muscle to show (like Michelle’s) you have to do a lot of cardio to burn the fat that covers it. And the more muscle you build with weight training, the better and faster you can burn fat because all of that new muscle will increase your fat-burning capabilities.

    I started working out last summer as a way to relieve stress; and now I’m pretty addicted to it. It’s become my hobby. I’m pretty fascinated by muscle and muscle on the female body; and so I train harder than most women do in the weight room at the gym. I’m curious to see how big I can get, and how far my body can go. My goals may not be the same as the average woman seeking weightloss; but we can most definitely bond over the desire to change and dedicate ourselves to the lifestyle that is fitness.

    All in all, yes we can have strong arms! It’s totally attainable if you dedicate yourself to hard work.

    This is me:

  7. misssamuel April 5, 2010 at 5:48 PM - Reply

    oh… might i add that I think that we black women have a bit of an advantage in the muscle department 😉 We are generally built more muscular than most women.

    • Erika April 5, 2010 at 6:23 PM - Reply

      Oh, I hear you 100% – I’m with you! I get the “weightlifting is for men” spiel all the time and I’m like “Um, where do you think these curves came from? That’s muscle, baby!”

    • ab January 16, 2013 at 7:35 AM - Reply

      this is a myth & is based on junk/ old/ racist science.
      Black women do not present increased musculature naturally, than any other women.

      The real difference has always been based on the way we move and cultural adapted practises. i.e. Dance, type of work, physical activity and duration. e.t.c.

      I really wish this myth will die, but it just keeps going.

  8. Liyah May 24, 2010 at 5:10 PM - Reply

    Thank you for this post it was true motivation for me to continue doing my push-ups, no matter how much I despise them (LOL).

    • Erika May 24, 2010 at 6:29 PM - Reply

      Trust me, girl, we ALL hate them. LOL!

  9. IrieDiva June 26, 2010 at 3:28 PM - Reply

    it kind of amazes me that u didnt do any surgery! i always thought once u go from big to small then the skin will get flabby even with toning and weights. my post baby belly i thought id be stuck with because i just figure after i lose the weight the skin itself wont exactly tighten back up….eh?

  10. Pam February 22, 2011 at 9:14 PM - Reply

    Stumbled onto your site after doing a search for Michelle Obama’s arms. Love it (the site and her arms).

    I was searching for her arms after reading about Rush Limberger’s nasty comments about our First Lady. I admire her and support her childhood anti-obesity efforts and think FATSO Rush is totally in the wrong.

    But to the point, those of you looking for good arm workouts, check out some of the more advanced video workouts out there. I am not peddling them for my benefit, but I would recommend the P90X series (in general for fitness adn shaping up) and anything by Cathe Friedrich. These are both fairly advanced trainers but you can start out gasping and find yourself keeping up after a few weeks of genuine effort. I am still questing after my own set of glamour guns–mostly due to lack of commitment and consistency (and a very demanding working mom life). But I am ever hopeful!

    All the best to everyone out there working it!

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