Tired of your T-shirt sleeves blowing in the wind? Well, clicking on this article is your first rep towards building bigger biceps, triceps and forearms. Each of these arm exercises hits maximum muscle fibres to spark the growth you’re after and proves any piece of kit – in the right hands and in the right arm exercises – has gun-toting potential to build bigger, thicker arms.
Looking to tone your upper body and sculpt toned arms? Not only do arm workouts for women help strengthen basic muscle groups like the triceps and biceps, they also work other important areas like your core and back muscles.
And if you’re wondering why exactly it is that you need to know some arm exercises, it’s because if you want to build arms that really pop, you’ll need to hit them from a variety of angles.
Small-but-mighty dumbbells make it possible to work all of your arm muscles—think your delts (shoulders), biceps (fronts of your upper arms), and triceps (backs of your upper arms)—from pretty much anywhere, whether it’s at the gym or in your bedroom. No pushups required! Promise.
And, no, in case you’re wondering: Cardio alone won’t do the trick. You’ve got to build some muscle if you really want those arms to pop! Your best bet is to incorporate a ~variety~ of arm exercises into your workouts regularly. To fatigue your arm muscles, choose two exercises that target your biceps (think curls), two that light up your triceps (think dips), and two that’ll make your shoulders burn (think upright rows).
If tightening and toning the arms is on your list of summer goals, try adding these exercises to your fitness regimen three times a week. I recommend performing them with 3-5 pound dumbbells. Remember that some arm exercises may be easier than others, so it’s okay to alternate between weights based on what feels right for your body.
The Best Arm Exercises for Bicep
Incline Bicep Curl
If you are looking to get bigger and stronger arms then the incline dumbbell curl is what you need to add into your workout routine. This workout isolates the long head of your bicep, stretches it and pushes you to apply more force while contracting. This means that it can be a great exercise if you are looking to maximize the bicep peak.
How to: Sit on an incline bench and hold a dumbbell in each hand at arm’s length. Use your biceps to curl the dumbbell until it reaches your shoulder, then lower them back down to your side and repeat.
Why: Beware: this position isolates the biceps and prevents other muscles from sharing the load. You can work the entire muscle by turning your wrists out slightly and keeping your elbows pointed towards the floor throughout the rep, a range of motion not available in other arm exercises.
Hammer curls target the long head of the biceps as well as the brachialis and the brachioradialis (one of the forearm muscles). This movement also engages stabilizer muscles, including the anterior deltoid, the upper and middle trapezius, the extensor carpi radialis, and others.
Hold a dumbbell in each hand with palms facing your sides and arms extended straight down. Keeping your upper arms against your sides, curl both weights at the same time, minimizing momentum used during the curl.
Dumbbell Preacher Curl
The preacher curl brings a number of benefits that you might not find in a conventional bicep curl. One of the biggest benefits that are associated with preacher curls is its ability to force you into negative movement. Negative movement really improves muscle growth as well as improving strength.
Another benefit that you get out of the preacher curl is that it takes away anyway for you to cheat whether voluntarily or involuntarily. Since you can’t swing as much as you do with seated or standing bicep curls, you are less likely to break your form.
The only downside for a preacher curl is that it requires a preacher bench to perform the exercise. No need to fret though, because you can still do your bicep curls, be sure to have the perfect form.
The dumbbell concentration curl is an essential biceps isolation exercise.
If you want to improve your arm size, strength, and appearance, the dumbbell concentration curl is for you. The concentration curl is a premier bicep exercise. Because your arm is in an anchored position, your biceps receive more tension than they do during a standard bicep curl.
- Contract your bicep to curl the dumbbell upwards.
- Squeeze your bicep hard at the top of the rep and return to the starting position.
- Repeat for the desired number of reps and be sure to switch arms.
Twisting Standing Dumbbell Curl
As with all biceps curls, the twisting standing dumbbell version is designed to build upper arm strength. The exercise primarily targets the biceps brachii muscle at the front of each upper arm. The brachialis in your upper arm and the brachioradialis, which runs from your upper arm to your wrist, assist in your movements. Stabilizing muscles include the anterior deltoid in front of each shoulder; the levator scapulae plus the upper and middle trapezius in your back; and the wrist flexors in your forearms.
How to: Hold a dumbbell in each hand at your side with palms facing each other. Use your bicep to curl the dumbbells up to your shoulders alternately, twisting your palms to face your chest as you lift them. Slowly lower the dumbbells back down to your side and repeat.
Prone Dumbbell Spider Curl
The spider curl is an isolation exercise that targets your arm muscles—specifically your biceps. Practice spider curls by resting your torso against an incline bench set to a 45-degree angle or a spider curl bench designed for this type of biceps exercise. Similar to concentration curls, spider curls require a slow, controlled movement from start to finish.
- Adjust a flat bench to a 45-degree angle.
- Place your chest against the bench, and rest your feet on the floor. Your legs should be long with a slight bend in your knees. Your weight should be on the balls of your feet.
- Grab the dumbbells with your palms facing away from your body.
- Rotate your shoulders outward to engage your lats, and allow your arms to hang while maintaining a slight bend in your elbows.
- Your chin should remain tucked throughout the movement, as if you were holding an egg under your chin. Engage your core. All repetitions should begin from this position.
- While keeping your upper arms still, squeeze your biceps, and bend your elbows until your lower arms contact your upper arms. The dumbbells should finish close to your shoulders without contacting your shoulders.
- Squeeze your biceps, and pause at the top of the movement.
- Slowly straighten your elbows to return to the starting position. Come to a complete stop at the bottom before beginning another repetition.
The Best Arm Exercises for Tricep
Single-Arm Dumbbell Overhead Triceps Extension
he main benefit of the overhead triceps extension is the hypertrophy of the triceps that comes with the motion. Unlike other triceps exercises, the triceps extension activates all three heads of the triceps, which means that your entire triceps will become stronger through this exercise.
Whether you want to have big arms, perform better in sports, or simply improve your upper body strength, the overhead triceps extension is a fantastic exercise to help you accomplish your goals.
- Assume a standing position with your feet roughly shoulder width apart.
- If you are using one dumbbell, slowly lift it above your head. If it is too heavy, feel free to rest it on your shoulder before lifting it upwards.
- To hold it correctly, make a diamond shape with your hands and grasp the dumbbell with your palms facing upward. The weight should rest in the palms of your hands. If you are using two dumbbells, grasp each one by the shaft, just as you normally would for any other exercise.
- With your elbows tucked in and your arms close to your head, slowly lower the weight until your elbows and forearms make a 90-degree angle. Keep your upper arms still and allow your forearms to move freely.
- Next, use your triceps to drive the dumbbells upwards in a controlled fashion to the starting position.
Decline Triceps Extension
The triceps brachii muscle is a muscle in the rear of your upper arm. It consists of three heads — the long head, lateral head and medial head. The three heads of the tricep insert into the elbow. The long head originates from the scapula, stretching across the shoulder and elbow joints. The lateral head originates from the back of the humerus and stretches across the elbow joint.
During tricep extensions the tricep contracts, extending the elbow joint against the resistance of the weight and gravity. While the term “triceps extension” usually refers to a specific arm exercise, also known as the overhead triceps extension, it can also be used to describe the primary motion of the triceps muscle.
- Lie on a decline bench and hold two dumbbells straight with arms extended directly above your chest.
- Then, lower the dumbbells down by extending only your forearms until they reach slightly behind your head. Inhale during this portion of the exercise.
- Now, use your triceps to extend the dumbbells back up but don’t lock out at the top. Exhale during this portion of the exercise.
- Repeat for the desired number of reps.
The Tate Press is much like tricep extensions aka skull crushes, except your arms move in a horizontal direction to your body rather than a vertical direction.
- Lie on a flat or incline bench while holding a pair of dumbbells above your chest in a horizontal position.
- Hold the dumbbells just like you would if you were performing the dumbbell bench press.
- Now bend your elbows and lower the dumbbells inwards towards your chest, lightly make contact with your chest, hold for a brief moment and slowly return to the start position.
- Hold briefly at the top of the motion and then repeat.
The tricep kickback is one of the premier exercises proven to strengthen your triceps muscle. Strong triceps are crucial for completing so many other upper body exercises. Without strong triceps muscles, it will be difficult to properly train your chest, shoulders, and other upper body muscle groups.
The dumbbell kickback is an isolation exercise. This means that unlike other exercises such as the push-up or bench press, the tricep kickback specifically targets the tricep muscle.
Stand holding a dumbbell in each hand and bend your hips back, lowering your torso until it’s almost parallel to the floor. Turn your palms to face in front of you and, keeping your upper arms against your sides, extend your elbows until your arms are parallel to your torso.