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Want her arms? Learn the first lady’s workout

There is one piece of information in Washington that's so coveted you'd think it was deemed classified: how Michelle Obama got those well-toned arms. Women's Health got the scoop — straight from Mrs. Obama's longtime personal trainer, Cornell McClellan. He's put her through 1,872 workouts. That's how many days — give or take a few — she's hit the gym since 1997, the year she first started wo
/ Source: Womens Health

There is one piece of information in Washington that's so coveted you'd think it was deemed classified: how Michelle Obama got those well-toned arms.

Women's Health got the scoop — straight from Mrs. Obama's longtime personal trainer, Cornell McClellan. He's put her through 1,872 workouts. That's how many days — give or take a few — she's hit the gym since 1997, the year she first started working with McClellan at his Chicago fitness studio, Naturally Fit. Even more impressive: Most of those sessions took place at 5:30 a.m.

"She's truly committed herself to the importance of health and fitness," McClellan says. "I believe the purpose of training is to tighten up the slack, toughen the body, and polish the spirit. To do that, we take a holistic approach that includes strength, cardiovascular and flexibility training."

The foundation of McClellan's plan is an intense weight-training routine made up of compound movements that work multiple muscle groups. In one workout, Mrs. Obama might do one set of 15 to 20 reps each of lunges, bench presses, hip raises and rows, all without resting — and with short bouts of intense cardio mixed in. For an even greater total-body challenge, the workouts also feature rope-jumping, kickboxing and body-weight calisthenics, all done at a heart-and lung-­busting pace that skyrockets fitness levels and burns tons of calories.

The result: a woman who's earned the right to be a health and fitness role model because she knows firsthand just how much dedication it takes to make it a lifestyle.

Ready to follow her lead? Make yourself priority number one with these three routines from the first lady's trainer:

The 9-minute arm workout

This "arm-shaping superset" is designed to sculpt the biceps and triceps.  It's only two moves, but you'll feel a big-time burn.

How to do it: Perform one set of exercise 1, then, without resting, do one set of exercise 2. Immediately repeat the entire routine until you've completed 2 to 3 sets of both exercises.

Tricep pushdown with grip flip

Attach a straight bar to the high pulley of a cable station and grab the bar with an overhand grip, hands shoulder-width apart. Tuck your upper arms next to your sides and bend your elbows more than 90 degrees. Without moving your upper arms, push the bar down until your arms are straight. Pause, then return to the starting position. That's 1 rep. Do 15 reps, then reverse your grip so that you're grasping the bar underhand and immediately do another 15 reps.

The one-minute hammer curl

Grab a pair of dumbbells and hold them next to your thighs, palms facing each other. Raise the dumbbell in your left hand as high as you can in front of you by bending your elbow and curling the weight toward your shoulder. As you lower the dumbbell, curl the weight in your right hand. Alternate rhythmically back and forth for 1 minute.