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Trainer spills secrets of Michelle Obama’s arms

At last, the secret to first lady Michelle Obama's sculpted arms: tricep pushdowns and hammer curls.
/ Source: The Associated Press

At last, the secret to first lady Michelle Obama's sculpted arms? Tricep pushdowns and hammer curls.

So says Cornell McClellan, Mrs. Obama's longtime personal trainer, who described the workout routine of his famous client in the October issue of Women's Health magazine. She began working with McClellan in 1997 at his Chicago fitness studio.

"She's truly committed herself to the importance of health and fitness," he says.

McClellan said that at the end of an intense routine of cardio workouts and weight training, Mrs. Obama finishes with the "arm-shaping superset" of tricep pushdowns and hammer curls to tone one of the most commented-upon pair of arms in the world. Mrs. Obama often wears sleeveless outfits.

How to get arms like Mrs. Obama's?

Perform one set of tricep pushdowns using a straight bar attached to the high pulley of a cable station and then, without resting, follow with a set of hammer curls using dumbbells. Immediately repeat the entire process until two or three sets of both exercises have been completed.

Fitness of the first familyThe details of Mrs. Obama's fitness routine came as part of a series of interviews by President Barack Obama and Mrs. Obama on health care and their personal fitness and nutrition habits.

Obama was interviewed by Men's Health; he also was featured in the magazine last November. Mrs. Obama gave her first interviews to Women's Health and Children's Health, a new magazine by Rodale Inc., publisher of the men's and women's health magazines.

Obama is again on the cover of Men's Health, while his wife graces the cover of Children's Health. She is joined by some of the Bancroft Elementary School pupils who have been involved with the White House garden.

Obama said he works out six days a week: two cardio days and four weightlifting days split between the upper and lower body. He also discussed his effort to overhaul the U.S. health care system and his late mother's bout with cancer.

"My blood pressure is pretty low, and I tend to be a healthy eater," he said in the interview. "So I probably could get away with cutting [my workouts] back a little bit. The main reason I do it is just to clear my head and relieve me of stress."

Mrs. Obama cited small changes to her family's diet that she says have made a difference. They include eliminating processed foods, cutting back on sugary drinks, eating more fresh fruits and vegetables, eating together more as a family and teaching her daughters how to read food labels.

She said she tries to be conscientious about health and fitness because her family is like many others — too busy to think about it every day.

"But health and fitness and how we eat and thinking about it has become part of our lives, because of our kids," she told Children's Health. "We are their primary role models. And if they see me exercising and thinking about what I'm eating, if they see their father, as busy as he is, getting to the gym and playing sports, when they grow up they'll understand that this is a natural part of being an adult."

All three magazines will hit newsstands on Sept. 15.