The situation is simple enough:
you’re here because you want to get your arms into better shape. The problems
start cropping up once you get into the specifics of the situation. Do you want
sleek, sexy arms, or do you need arm exercises to bulk up? Are your arms
flabby?Has this sent you out on a quest for arms exercises to tone up?
Do you want arm exercises for the gym or for home? With weights or with no
equipment other than your own bodyweight? Are you a woman, afraid that
she’s going to bulk up and using this as an excuse to never start a serious,
sustained arm toning workout program? Or are you a man, looking to build
the fiercest biceps and triceps he possibly can?
In the following, we look at
all of the above and lots more, but before we begin, we’re going to give you a
bit of a primer on a branch of medicine: anatomy. That’s because it pays
off to be educated on the way the human body works in general – but it’s
especially important when you’re trying to transform your own body into a lean,
toned muscle-driven and fatburning machine. So before
delving into arm exercise routines, here’s all you need to know on arm muscle
Arm workouts for beginners: Arm muscle anatomy
What most people know about the
anatomy of the arm is that it consists of the biceps and the triceps. As you
will see in the following, there’s far more to arm muscles than these two
fellows - but, before you get there, let’s address some issues regarding the
biceps, as well as the most effective, popular and often used exercises for
A few quick words on arm exercises for the
The biceps is possibly the most
hotly debated arm muscle, since a lot of men choose to focus on in, in a quest
to look impressive in a tight T-shirt. Conversely, women tend to avoid arm
exercises for the biceps, as they fear they will instantly bulk up. It’s
important to understand that the biceps only makes up one third of your arm
muscles, with the triceps making up for the rest. What is true is that the
biceps is a long muscle, with fibers that extend across the length of your upper
arm. Given its structure, whenever the biceps contracts on a lean arm, it is
easily visible and makes for what’s popularly referred to as the ‘tennis ball’look.
Both women and men can gain from
properly working the biceps through arm exercises. Resistance training is
essential, since it will help you lose fat in the area of the biceps and
the muscle will slowly become visible. Of course, curls are probably the best
arm exercises for the biceps, but there’s a lot more that you can do to enhance
its look. Since the biceps and its two adjoining brachii essentially connect to
help you bend your elbow, experimenting with different grips and lifts
on your dumbbells will help enhance the efficiency of your biceps workout
The structure of arm muscles
It goes by the popular name of
the biceps, but its full, scientific name is the biceps brachii. As explained
above, it derives its name from the other two muscles that make it up. In other
words, that second, strange-sounding word in the full name of this comes from
the fact that it conceals the brachioradialis and brachialis muscles.
Even for people who don’t have
that much lean body mass, the triceps is probably the most familiar sight of
their arm muscle mass. The triceps makes up the muscle mass on the back of your
arms. Of it, the lateral head is the most visible – it’s what you see in the
mirror, when you flex your upper arms. This is also the main muscle which we use
to straighten our arms. It’s directly attached to the elbow.
We’ve covered the anatomy of the
shoulder and shoulder exercises extensively here at Workout Box, so make sure
to check out the dedicated section. You can even download a shoulder exercises
.pdf there. But, as a quick reminder, the shoulder muscle section of the
arm is shaped like a teardrop and comprises a front, back, and medial head. The
shoulder muscles are also collectively known as the deltoids.
The rotator cuff
This collection of smaller
muscles may not seem important on first glance – and few people actually take
the time to do arm exercises for them specifically. The arm’s rotator cuff
takes its name after the fact that all these muscles are located around the
shoulder joint. They are the supraspinatus, subscapularis, infraspinatus, and
The most popular types of arm exercises
Almost everyone has heard of
curls and pushups, but it’s important to understand that they’re not reserved
for bodybuilders and people who want to bulk up only. These exercises for arms,
as well as many others that you’ll find explained over the course of this
article all serve one major purpose: they help you maintain your upper body strength.
Why is this relevant? Because, according to the U.S. National Institute of
Aging, the strength of our upper bodies becomes increasingly important with
Once you’re out of your 20s and
heading straight toward midlife, a phenomenon known as sarcopenia starts
occurring. This is effectively the loss of muscle mass, which begins in your
30s and accelerates as you near 50. By the time you reach that ripe age,
you stand to lose as much as 10 per cent of your muscle mass. By the age
of 80, say researchers from the National Institute of Aging, you may have lost
anywhere near 40 per cent of muscle mass. Given the fact that we use our upper
bodies in actions as mundane as picking something up off the floor, playing
with children and lifting them, and carrying the daily groceries, you can see
how the depletion of arm muscles would affect the quality of your life as you
age. So don’t knock off resistance and weighttraining, because
you’re definitely going to need its benefits once you’re older. That being
said, here are the four main types of arm exercises for strength, toning,
and resistance that everyone should be acquainted with. We’ve included them in
this section because we also address the arm muscle groups they work.
You can use any kind of weight
for arm curls, from a filled bottle of water to a kettlebell, a
set ofdumbbells, barbells, and weight training machines at the
gym. The key to selecting the appropriate weight for your fitness level is to
choose one that you can lift 8 to 12 consecutive times; if you can easily do
more, then it’s time to increase the weight. If you can barely lift it, time to
scale back a little. Weight machines usually come with elbow pads, where you
can rest your arms as you exercise, ensuring they’re maintaining the
proper position. Along the same lines, it’s essential to keep your elbows to
the laterals of your body and maintain the elbows in a fixed position when you
lift dumbbells or barbells during curls. Otherwise, you risk elbow injury and
are also exercising ineffectively.
The best thing about a close
grip-bench press workout for the arms is that it manages to work both your
biceps and your triceps at the same time. To perform this press, you need to
lie down on a bench and grab a hold of the barbell over your head. Lift
it off its stand, but make sure to keep your arms closer together than you
would for a regular bench press: an 18-inch distance is usually what you should
aim for. For proper form, your wrists need to be maintained in a straight
position and your elbows need to be glued to the laterals off your body. The
rest is simple and you’ve seen it in all the bodybuilding movies or videos
you’ve ever watched. Raise the barbells off its stand, lower it down to a few
inches from your chest, lift again and repeat.
Make sure you’re breathing the
right way: exhale when you lift and breathe in as the weight goes down, inching
closer to your chest. In terms of weight selection, the same rule of thumb
applies as explained above. You need to choose a weight which you can lift for
a minimum of 8 times and an approximate maximum of 12.
Hand gripper arm exercises
Ever shook hands with someone
whose hand and arm seemed particularly limp? It’s highly unpleasant and
awkward, but it also goes to show that a handshake is one of the very
first things people notice about you. That’s where hand gripper exercises come
in handy for any athlete, irrespective of their level. It’s just as important
to exercise your wrist muscles, as many hand workouts indicate, but the
gripping muscles of the hand should also play a major part in your daily
strength and toning routine. There is no other piece of workout equipment
that’s better suited to give your large forearm muscles a run for their money
than the handgripper. This device works your brachioradialis and carpal flexor
muscles, which are just the two muscles you use when gripping your hand. Though
most grip and wrist exercises include some action for your grip, handgrip
squeezes and reverse squeezes are more targeted. You’ll be hard-pressed to find
an exercise that isolates your carpal extensors, for instance, better than the
reverse handgrip squeeze.
Handgrippers are mechanical
devices which comprise a stout spring with handles attached. They’re
inexpensive and easy to find and they come with the huge advantage of isolating
the muscles that you use to grip things with. Here are a few ideas on how you
can include handgrip exercises into your regular upper-body workout routine:
With one handle in your palm and a finger wrapped around the
other, give the handgrippers a good squeeze. Hold the closed position
for at least 5 seconds, then release it very slowly. You should be able to
perform at least two sets of 10 such reps and work your way up to four sets,
over the course of several weeks.
Try reverse squeezes, with the handgrip tucked between your palm
and fingers – with the handgrip as far toward your fingertips as possible.
Close the grip with both your hands, then remove the hand you added later to
the move and very slowly release your grip. Switch sides, once you’ve performed
a full rep; your initial goal is for two sets of five reverse squeezes, from
which you should be building up to four sets.
Grip the handle with your palm and the buttons with your
fingertips. Squeeze the handgrip together by contracting your fist, then slowly
let go of the handles. If you want to make this exercise more difficult on
yourself, you could curl in just one finger at a time and no more. Work your
way up from one set of 10 reps, to three or even four sets per workout.
Pushups are great for the overall
toning and conditioning of one’s entire body. They can be performed by any
level athlete, by men and women alike, in beginner, intermediate, or
even advanced workout routines. They target numerous groups of muscles, such as
the pecs, serratus anterior, corachobrachialis, and core. But, first and
foremost, they’re used in HIIT workouts and they target the arm muscles,
including the triceps, anterior deltoids and, more marginally, the other
deltoids. Everyone knows the essentials of a pushup: lie down on the floor,
face down, and use your arms to lower and raise your body. However, it’s just
as useful to know that there are plenty of variations to the regular push-up.
Let’s take a look at a few types of pushups and see how they work, as well as
which ones are better suited as arm exercises.
Cardio for the arms: Sports and other types of
Believe it or not, some sports
can genuinely help with the toning and strengthening of your arms, even though
they mainly work out other muscle groups. If you’re not that much into
weightlifting or circuit training, you could start off easy, by putting in some
fun, light cardio activities, in the form of the following sports. Check them
out and also have a gander at the way in which they can help you big,
strong, or toned arms fast.
It almost goes without saying
that baseball helps tone and sculpt the arms, but, perhaps more importantly,
baseball relies heavily on the use of one’s shoulders. Out on the field, a baseball
player uses their shoulders in a wide range of movements, from pitching
and hitting, to diving and running. This is why it’s important to have strong,
resistant shoulders when you bat out on the field. Shoulder injuries can
permanently damage a professional player’s career, sending them to the wings
forever, and they can cause massive pain to amateur. There are several shoulder
exercises you can include in your regular workouts, to help maintain your rotator
cuff muscles. We cover them at length in our free dedicated article;
however, if you want access to a specialized shoulder workout for baseball pitchers,
you might want to consider investing in KB Powerbands. Each band comes
with four distinct levels of resistance, which you can progress through, as you
prime your shoulders for the challenges of baseball.
If slimming down your arms
is your goal, then arm wrestling might not be the best choice; if, on
the other hand, you want to build muscle mass and strength, you’ve come to the
right place. Though it’s not exclusively a strength sport, as it also relies on
speed and technique, it’s great for improving the whole range of arm and hand
muscles, in terms of efficiency. It operates on the fingers, hand, wrist,
forearm, biceps, and triceps. The biceps is, in fact, the most important muscle
for arm wrestlers, since it helps you establish the position which can help you
win a match. It’s interesting to note, though, that other than helping you maintain
your stance, they don’t do much else during the wrestling activity per se.
Except for arm wrestling hooks, where they’re prominently featured, the biceps
are the supporters, but most of the action is performed by the forearms and
By and large, cycling is all
about the legs and their muscles; however, this type of cardio activity can
also be rather intensive for your upper body. The arms in particular are very
important when you cycle, since they can help you ward off fatigue. Sculpting
your biceps and triceps also comes with the added benefit of removing
lactate from your body, as you cycle. The secret to efficient arm muscles for
cyclists is to achieve strength without adding bulk to your upper body. This
way, you’ll maintain slim arms, which won’t add to your bodyweight, but you’ll
also help render them more efficient for when you bike. Hammer curls,recumbenttricep
extensions, and military push-ups are all among the cyclists’ favored choices
for arm workouts.
Swimmers, together with marathon
runners, and dancers, have the most enviable bodies among athletes, as any set
of pictures in Sports Illustrated will go to show. And it doesn’t take a
brain surgeon to realize that swimming works wonders for upper body toning in
general, as well as for slimming down the arms. A couple of regular pool laps
will clearly tone and tighten your arm muscles. However, if you want to amp up
the intensity of your daily swims and reap additional arm toning benefits, here
are a few tips and tricks you might want to try:
Use pool toys. Kick-boards are great for the arms, if you
lie across them and allow the upper part of the body to hang off them. This
way, you’ll literally only be using your arms to swim across the pool. You can
also try swimming with weighted swim gloves, which will have your arm muscles
working all the harder.
Put in arm exercises in the water. When performed in a
body of water, arm exercises are that much more efficient, since water puts up
resistance. Just let your arms take on the workload, as you use your legs to
kick the water or simply to stay afloat.
Literally hang out at the pool. Place the top of your
fingers on the edge of the pool, then support your entire bodyweight on your
arms, as you come out of the water. Lift your torso above water level and kick
your feet throughout. Make sure your arm muscles are contracted and hold the
pose for a few seconds. Alternatively, you can float in the pool on an
inflatable raft and use your arms for a back stroke.
As a side note, swimming is great
for therapeutic arm workouts, for people who have sustained arm muscle
injuries. Stand in the pool with your feet firmly planted on the pool’s floor,
then let your injured arm float on the water. The resistance that water
naturally creates will help your muscle tissue regenerate and your arm regain
One of the best things about Pilates
is that you’re fully in charge of the workout intensity. Your Pilates program
can be strenuous and effort-intensive, but it can also be gentle enough to be
performed by pregnant women. Since its efficiency in enhancing muscle
activity has been scientifically proven, Pilates is even recommended by
physicians to people affected by arm and leg lymphedema. Light Pilates
exercises for the arms can encourage the quick dispersal of lymph from
the affected tissue.
Now, if you’re looking for an
effective arm workout, which relies mostly on Pilates moves, there are plenty
of great alternatives out there. For a sure-fire workout, check out Mari
Winsor’s five minute upper-body sculpting Pilates. It makes use of resistance bands
and although the original workout only requires regular rubber bands,
you can opt for the more professional Theraband. The Thera is a latex
band that’s designed for intensive use and it can also be used with great
results for therapeutic purposes. It activates all arm muscle groups and
supports an ample range of exercises, but Pilates is probably the best kind of
workout to enhance with the aid of a Thera system.
When they think of jump rope
workouts, most people tend to assume that they only work out your lower body;
indeed, while your legs and glutes will surely benefit from this fun type of
cardio, this doesn’t mean that rope skipping doesn’t reduce upper-body
fat. In fact, jumping rope can easily become one of the most efficient ways of
dealing with flabby arms. One type of exercise for the arms that you can try at
home, with your very own jump rope involves taking a rope handle in each hand
and rotating your wrist, in order to create a swinging motion, from front to
back. Keep control over the pace of the rotation, in order to also control the
speed of the rope and pacing of the jumps. For added intensity and difficulty,
you could opt for a rope with weights in the handles – it will give your upper
body an extra push.
Jumping rope is great for a lot
of arm-related issues. It improves shoulders and overhead strength. It’s got
isometric benefits, achieved by creating tension in your forearms and thus
strengthening them. As you contract your biceps, to maintain a particular
position of the arms, you are also helping them become stronger and leaner. And
if you also incorporate arm swings into your jump rope workout, you’re sure to
improve upper body strength through this type of cardio.
The best arm exercises for various fitness
Now that we’ve covered the basics
on arm exercises and arm workouts, it’s time to take a look at specific fitness
goals. Perhaps some of you want to bulk up and have an impressively sized
biceps and triceps. Perhaps others are vying for strength – being able to lift
a lot, or to perform difficult daily activities, such as pushing, climbing, and
so on. Last, but certainly not least, some people just want slim,
defined arm muscles; this is especially true of the ladies, who might find the
prospect of bulking up a bit daunting and undesirable. For them, we’ve got a
list of great arm exercises that will tone the muscles and help get rid
of the fatty tissue and arm flab they dislike.
Arm exercises for strength
The plank press
This exercise is just as good for
women, who dream of skinny, but toned arms, as it is for men. It
requires a yoga mat and a pair of dumbbells and it works your shoulders,
back, and abs, in addition to your triceps. To begin, position yourself
in push-up position, with the dumbbells at the top of the mat. For proper
pushup form, your arms should be positioned shoulder-width apart, while your
hands should be located immediately underneath your shoulders. Place your feet
a bit wider apart than shoulder width. Keep your hips steady and lift one
dumbbell with your right hand. With your palm facing downward and the arm close
to your body, push your elbow back. Then reach forward with your arm as far as
you can. Resume the bent position for a full rep. A complete set includes 10
reps for each arm; aim for two sets in one go.
The name of this arm exercise for
women andmen who want to strengthen their arms might sound funny,
but it’s as serious as they come, if we’re talking arm force. Begin in upright
position, with your feet placed at hip-width distance, a dumbbell in each hand,
and your arms to the laterals of your body. Flex your elbows and lift the
dumbbells along your ribs, until you reach your armpits. Your elbows should be
pointed outward at all times. Then, extend your arms fully, with your palms
down; once you’ve reached the topmost point of the extension, reverse the movement.
Perform 20 repetitions, in two sets.
The overhead circles
This exercise is particularly
good for female fitness enthusiasts, as well as for beginners who want
stronger, more sculpted arms, as well as more reliable shoulders. You begin in
the upright position, with your feet placed at hip-width distance, and one
dumbbell in each hand. Begin with each arm slightly out to the laterals, in a
reverted V-position. As you start lifting the arms slowly, make sure you don’t
hold them directly overhead, but in a V. Then, start drawing five to eight small
circles in the air, as you raise your arms, with each dumbbell. Once
you’ve reached the top of the movement, start lowering your arms back down to
your laterals, still drawing the circles into the air, but in the reverse direction.
That’s one rep and you should perform 2 sets of 10 reps.
The hammer punch
In the upright position, with
your feet positioned at hip-width distance and a dumbbell in each, hold your
arms down by your sides, with your palms facing straight ahead. Bend your
elbows by the sides of your body, as you raise the dumbbells to the point where
they reach your shoulders. Your palms should still be facing forward. Fling
your left arm to the left side, as if throwing a punch into the air, then bring
the dumbbell back to your shoulder win a swift movement. Switch sides and
perform the same punching movement with your right arm. Lower your arms to the
initial position, in order to complete a repetition. Keep alternating sides,
for two sets of 20 reps each.
If you want to increase
the level of difficulty for this movement, then mix it up on that last set.
Don’t alternate arms: do 20 reps with your left arm and then 20 more with the
The dumbbell Tate press
Lie down on a bench, with your
elbows pointing out to your sides and the dumbbells over your chest. The heads
of the two dumbbells should be close together, while the weights themselves
should be lying on top of your chest. Don’t be tempted to do a bench press, by
just simply lifting the weights up into the air. Keep the heads of the
dumbbells touching at all times.
The dumbbell hammer curl
With a neutral grip, hold two
dumbbells to your laterals. Perform a curling movement with your arms and bring
the weights toward your front deltoids. Your grip should still be neutral. At
the top of the movement contract your biceps, hold the contraction for a
second, then slowly lower the weights back down to the initial position.
The parallel bar dip
Grab a hold of a parallel bar,
with your back turned to the device. Bend your elbows into a sharp angle and
dip your entire body weight. The lowermost point of this movement should have
your forearms right below a parallel position to the floor. Press back up in an
explosive movement, using your arm muscles to complete a full rep.
The thick grip barbell curl
Wrap a towel around the bar of a
barbell and contract the muscles around your wrists. Slowly lower the bar down
to the floor, until you reach the bottom point of the movement. Then, raise it
back to the initial position.
Arm exercises for mass
Beginner bodybuilders and
weightlifters place a massive amount of importance on the size of their arm
muscles. In a certain way, the size of one’s guns is a sign of status and the
good news is that it’s not at all difficult to enhance it. The bad news is that
most people will go about it the entirely wrong way and eventually give up,
once they realize that all their thousands of pushups and hundreds of curls
aren’t getting them anywhere. We’re here to tell you that it’s relatively easy
to come up with an arm workout for mass, which might even get you
to look like Lee Priest. The diminutive, 5 foot 5” bodybuilder has impressed
the entire world with his huge biceps, massive forearms, and sturdy triceps. He
has both mass and definition: you can see the sinewy veins making their way up
and down his arm and the coveted horseshoe triceps. You, too, can have it. How?
Read on to find out.
The full arm mass workout
What you don’t want to do, when
training your arm muscles for mass, is to overtrain. This is what happens when
you put in hundreds, thousands, even, of arm exercises and nothing more. This
is not to say that you should sit on the couch back at home, hoping to see your
arms bulk up by magic. What you need to do, however, is get enough rest for the
micro-tears that working out produces in your muscle tissue to heal. An ideal
way of making sure you’re doing this is to split up your training routine into
two days dedicated to full body workouts, with compound lifts, a
day during which you only do arm exercises, and a day for your legs that also
trains your wrists and forearms.
At this point in mapping out the
perfect arm workout for mass you might be wondering if the plan will work for
you and your specific training goals. To this end, check out the concepts with
which the workout routine operates:
Compound and isolated exercises. The best way to
see some significant results in terms of muscle mass is by performing compound
exercises. They target your entire body all at once, literally increasing its
capacity for burning calories, plowing through the fat tissue, and
increasing the size of your muscles. Isolated exercises also have their
utility, since they can help intermediate and experienced trainers improve
areas which only need a bit of adjustment before they reach the desired size.
Rep range alternation. It’s pretty much pointless to train
in the exact same way, day in and day out, since, after a certain point onward,
your muscles will stop responding as efficiently as they used to and you’ll
plateau. To this end, strive to switch freely from a low repetition range (4 to
6) to a medium-high range (8 to 12). There are several reasons to take
o To avoid
stagnation. Once your body gets used to a particular rep range, it stops
putting up enough resistance as to actually see some results.
o To increase
testosterone production. As scientific research will have it, a lower
repetition range will boost your body’s levels of testosterone production,
thereby making your muscle fiber larger.
o To increase
HGH and lactic acid levels. This is what the high rep range can do
for you, literally making your muscles look fuller and bigger.
Forced repetitions. This is a training method that
encourages hypertrophy, according to some fitness experts. It involves a
spotter, which helps the person performing the reps put in a few more, even
after they’ve passed the point of failure. It’s important to note that you shouldn’t
do forced repetition on all the exercises, but only on those that you
feel could be amped up a notch or two, in terms of intensity.
Here ‘s the workout plan for your
arms, for the two days when you’ll be working these areas:
3 sets of 8 to 12 bench press reps
3 sets of 8 to 12 bent-over row reps
You’ll essentially be using the
bench presses and rows as warm-up, since they do make use of your biceps and
triceps, yet these are not the main muscle groups used in these exercises.
Employing them as secondary muscles will get them ready for action, but it’s
the next section that will offer them a proverbial run for their money.
4 sets of 4 to 6 triceps pushdowns
4 sets of 4 to 6 dumbbell curls
3 sets of 8 to 12 overhead triceps extensions
3 sets of 8 to 12 concentration curls
These supersets will literally
antagonize the biceps and triceps, in order to get them really pumped up in a
very short time.
4 sets of 4 to 6 close-grip bench presses
4 sets of 4 to 6 pull-downs
Once you’re done, it’s probably a
good idea to perform some fascial stretching, which also helps encourage muscle
growth. This type of stretchis achieved by holding the bottom-most position of
each negative repetition for 20-30 seconds, either with the same weight you
were using before, or even with a lighter one. This way, the fascial, or the
tough tissue around your muscles, will be stretched out. In turn, this
will leave more room for the muscle to effectively grow. Rumor on the
bodybuilding arena has it that former Mr. Universe Arnold Schwarzenegger used
fascial stretching as his ‘mystery ingredient’ for bulking up.
On the leg workout day, you
should also put in a bit of a workout for your wrists and forearms. These two
areas are often disregarded, since their visual impact, when bulked up, is
comparatively lower. However, if you do them on leg day, you can use them to
alternate between the leg exercises, to mix things up a little. Here’s the full
forearm and wrist workout for such a day:
4 sets of 4 to 6 reverse barbell curls
3 sets of 8 to 12 cable curls
3 sets of 8 to 12 reverse barbell preacher curls
3 sets of 8 to 12 palms-down wrist curls
Cable curls might seem easy
at first, but they will give you a burn in no time. The preacher curls
and palms-down curls have made the list because it’s important to activate the
muscles on your wrist and forearms from all possible angles. They will be
facing up during the cable curls and down for the palms-down curls. Don’t
forget about the fascial curls at the end, with 20-30 seconds spent in the
bottom-most position of each negative exercise rep.
Another important note, the final
one, as far as mass exercises for the arms go, is that you need to take care of
your nutrition if you want to bulk up. This means more calories, but especially
an appropriate quantity of protein. Make sure to include about 500 calories
more on your diet and consider including protein powder in your daily diet,if
you need to amp up your protein levels, but don’t have the time to cook, or
don’t want to go overboard with the calories. Of course, a bodybuilder’s
nutrition regimen doesn’t consist of just protein and nothing else. You’re also
going to need carbs and fats to fuel the burns and the workouts. Choose
complex carbs and fats from natural, organic sources, be they vegetal or animal.
Arm exercises for toning
Since some fitness enthusiasts
don’t want to add mass to their arms, we’ve also included some arm exercises
for toning, most of which target women. They will help define your muscles, making
them leaner, while also strengthening them to help with your overall
weight loss process. For the vast majority of the exercises included below, you
won’t need any special equipment, save for a pair of dumbbells which you can
lift without too much difficulty. And most of them have been conceived
by top trainer Tracy Anderson, who has worked with some of the biggest
names in entertainment, such as Madonna, Gwyneth Paltrow, or Gwen Stefani.
The arm circle
This move requires a pair of
dumbbells weighing 3 lbs each and it engages many of your upper body muscles:
your shoulders, your back, your triceps, and your biceps. You start in the
upright position, with your feet positioned at hip-width distance and your arms
reaching out to the sides, palms facing forward and arms at shoulder level.
Perform 20 small circles forward, then 20 small circles backward, while making
sure your shoulders stay down throughout the whole movement.
The shoulder press
This exercise is a classic, when
it comes to toning the shoulders and triceps. Begin in an upright position, a
dumbbell in each hand, and your feet placed right under your shoulders. Bend
your elbows to bring your hands up to your shoulders. Your palms need to be
facing ahead. Then, push your arms straight up, right above your head. To
complete a repetition, bring the weights back down to your shoulders. Beginners
should aim for at least 20 reps of the shoulder press – a great exercise, which
works both your shoulder muscles, as well as your triceps.
The triceps push-back
In upright position, with your
feet placed at shoulder-width distance, bend your knees as you hold a dumbbell
in each hand. Your arms need to be straight by your sides, with your palms
facing behind you. Press your arms behind you for at least 2 feet, lift them as
far back as they go, then return them to the side. Perform 20 such repetitions
of this toning exercise for the arms.
The high V
In the upright position, with
your feet at shoulder-width distance, raise your hands in the air, in a V
shape. You should be holding a dumbbell in each hand, with the palms of your
hands facing away from your body. Then bend your elbows very slowly, keeping
them pointed toward your hips. At this point, your palms should be facing your
body. Press your arms back overhead, into the V-shape position and this will
complete one repetition. Aim to complete at least 20 such reps.
The side tri lift
If you’re at intermediate weight lifting
level, you can try out this triceps-focused exercise. You start out by standing
upright, with your feet at hip-width distance and each hand holding a dumbbell.
Bend your right elbow, with the palm facing your shoulder. Extend the arm to
the later, at shoulder height, and rotate it until your palm faces your body
again. Lift the weight for roughly 2 inches in the air, then resume the initial
position. Perform 20 reps of this exercise with your dominant hand, then switch
over to the non-dominant hand.
The back touch
If you’re feeling advanced and
want an arm toning exercise that targets both your back and shoulders, as well
as your biceps, you can try the back touch. Stand upright, with your feet at
hip-width distance and your arms outstretched to the laterals. You need to hold
a dumbbell in each hand, as your bring your arms back for about 1 foot, in a
diagonal line with your shoulders. Bend your left elbow behind you and touch
your glutes with a dumbbell. Resume the initial position to complete one rep.
As you alternate arms, work your way up to 30 repetitions.
The overhead bend
You will need a rather strong
core for this exercise, which also works your shoulder and triceps. With your
feet at shoulder-width distance and a dumbbell in each hand, bend your right
elbow toward the hip. Hinge over toward the opposite side, by leaning in from
the waist. Put your arm up right over your head, then to the left. Make sure
your shoulders stay down for the duration of this exercise. Slowly lower your
elbow back to the hip. Perform 25 repetitions on one side, then switch over to
the next one.
The straight-arm shrug
Grab a pair of dumbbells and,
with your feet at hip distance and your arms extended fully to the sides, make
sure you’re keeping your shoulders down. Your arms should be at shoulder level
at this point, as your right shoulder is descending toward your ear. Once
you’ve completed the movement on one side, switch to the left arm. Repeat the
arm exercise 30 times, as you alternate sides. Make sure your arms are lifted
in the air throughout the exercise.