How to Rock a Strapless Dress

Hey there, I just had a few questions that aren’t derby related. I am getting married in April and have been working out 4-5 times a week on top of derby now. I am concerned about toning my arms (among other things) because my dress is strapless. I have some okay biceps going due to my job but my triceps are pretty squishy. Do you have any tips on focusing on lengthening and toning arm muscles? I have a few small weights and treadmill, as well as doing push ups and working with a resistance band. Any advice to add to my routine would be much appreciated. Thanks!

Chelsea Handle Her

This is such a great question that I decided to answer it in a blog post because I think it’s a topic that many folks want the answer to: whether getting married, or preparing for a school reunion, getting in shape for bathing suit season, or just wanting to look our best for ourselves!

First, let me dispel a myth that some folks in the fitness community would have us believing.

  • Genetics determines the shape of our bodies & although we can increase & decrease the amount of fat & muscle we have on our bodies, we can’t change the length or shape of our muscles.
  • Genetics also determines where we store fat on our bodies. Therefore, we can’t choose where we store or reduce fat on our bodies.

So, getting beautifully sculpted arms & upper body require a three pronged approach: Proper diet, cardiovascular exercise & strength training.

Proper Diet

Exercise is important, but eating properly is probably 75% of the battle. You can workout really hard & have gorgeous muscles, but if you can’t see them, what’s the point? Therefore, you need to eat fewer calories than you burn. This will allow you to show off your beautifully sculpted arms & back!

Here are some Nutritional Guidelines that I adhere to. As far as calorie needs go, start by multiplying your weight by 11. As you lose weight, keep multiplying your weight by 11 to reduce your calorie budget. Log your food to make sure that you’re staying within that calorie budget.  There are lots of online tools that you can use to log your food:

If you want a tool that you can use on your smartphone, checkout:


You want to break a sweat for a minimum of 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. The more intense the exercise, the more calories it will burn. Although cardiovascular health is important, the reason it’s key here, is simply to burn calories. The more movement you can add to your day, the more calories you’ll burn & therefore creating more of a calorie deficit. A calorie deficit will result in fat loss & you’ll be able to show off those beautiful muscles you’re working so hard to sculpt through your strength training.

Strength Training

Strength training is important because if you only focus on losing weight, you’ll just become a smaller version of your bigger self. Strength training allows you to provide some structure to your body. Even if you still have a layer of body fat over your muscles, you’ll still look better because there’s something there to support it. Liken this to wearing a bustier without boning versus one with; the boning provides support so that the bustier sits up & doesn’t sag.

When strength training, I like to focus on major muscle groups: Chest, Back & Legs. I do this because your major muscle groups have more muscle mass than the smaller muscle groups (arms, abs, calves) & therefore will have a larger impact in boosting metabolism. Strength train 2-3 times a week.

I also like this post from Mark’s Daily Apple which outlines a really good total body bodyweight routine.

Finally, Congratulations on your marriage! You’ll look gorgeous no matter what!