You don’t have to head to an expensive gym with state of the art equipment to get lean and toned arms. Simple exercises can help you get rid of excess flab and build strength at the same time.
Additionally, arm exercises are an essential part of any fitness regime. So, whether you’re a lone wolf at the gym or prefer training at home, here are a few exercises that you can add to your routine.
1. Bicep Curls
This is the most basic exercise in most strength training routines that will help you lift heavy things easily. Here’s how you can go about this exercise.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Hold a dumbbell in each hand and place your arms at your sides with your thumb facing forwards and your palms facing your thighs.
- Count to 2 and rotate your forearms as you lift the weights towards you. At this time, your palms should be facing in towards your shoulders. Be sure to keep your upper arms and elbows close to your shoulders at this point, as if you have a newspaper tucked under your arm.
- Pause for 5 breaths and slowly bring your arms back to the starting position. Make sure to rotate your forearms so your thumb is facing forwards again. This makes one repetition.
Repeat this exercise 10 times to complete 1 set. Then, rest for about a minute and repeat another set. You could start off with a 5 kg dumbbell and increase the weights as you get stronger.
A good indicator of strength is when the exercise seems too easy to do with the current weights. Make sure to keep your back and elbows straight throughout the exercise to avoid injuries.1
2. Overhead Press
This exercise complements the bicep curls and strengthens your triceps and biceps. Additionally, it works on your shoulders and upper trap muscles. Here’s how you can go about this exercise.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Hold a dumbbell in each hand and raise your hands with your palms and forearms facing forward until the dumbbells are at level with your shoulders and parallel to the floor.
- As you count to two, slowly push the dumbbells up over your head until your arms are fully extended. Make sure you
don’t lock your elbows as you do this.
- Pause for 5 breaths and slowly lower the dumbbells back to shoulder level. This makes one repetition.
Repeat this exercise 10 times to complete 1 set. Then, rest for about a minute and repeat another set. Increase the weight of the dumbbells as the exercise gets easier to perform.
Make sure to keep your wrists straight and relax your neck and shoulders during this exercise. Additionally, it’s important not to lock the elbows and always keep a slight bend in the arms. Don’t let the dumbbells move too far in the front of your body or behind it either.2
3. Bench Dips
This exercise develops strength in the deltoid muscles and tricep muscles. It also helps burn that stubborn fat in the triceps, popularly known as “bat wings.” Here’s how you can go about this exercise.
- Balance your body between two benches, with your feet on one bench and your hands on the other. Your hands should be facing towards your feet.
- Slowly lower yourself until your elbows are bent at about 90 degrees. Make sure to keep your chest up and your back straight as you do this.
- Pause for 5 breaths and slowly lift yourself up by pressing your arms into the bench. This makes one repetition.
Repeat this exercise 15 times to complete 1 set. Then rest for about a minute and repeat another set. You could place weighted plates on your thighs to make this exercise harder, but be sure to do so in the presence of a professional.
Additionally, make sure not to shrug your shoulders or drop your head at any point during this exercise. While you could do this exercise without the additional bench for your feet, it might reduce the effectivity of the exercise.3
4. Pull Ups
This exercise needs you to get an at-home pull-up bar or head to the gym. Alternatively, the monkey bars at a playground would also work well.
Pulls ups build strength in your brachialis and brachioradialis muscles. They are located near the elbow and help move the forearm. Additionally, the biceps and shoulder joints also get a good workout.4 Here’s how you can go about this exercise.
- Grip the pull-up bar with your palms facing towards you and your arms fully extended. This is called the supine pull up which targets more of the arm muscles.
- Pull up your body weight until your chin is barely above the bar. To maintain good posture, cross your feet beneath you.
- Pause for 5 breaths and then slowly lower yourself until your arms are fully extended again.
Repeat this exercise at least 4 times and increase the repetitions as you get stronger. To make the exercise easier, ask a friend or a trainer to give you a boost when you’re pulling yourself up.
5. Tricep Extensions
This exercise strengthens the back of your upper arms. Here’s how you can go about performing it.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Hold a dumbbell in each hand.
- Lift your arms over your head until they are fully extended. You should feel the weight of the dumbells in the palms of your hands. Ensure that your palms are facing each other. This is the starting position.
- Take a deep breath in. And, while keeping your upper arms close to your head with elbows in and perpendicular to the floor, lower the dumbells in a semicircular motion behind your head until your forearms touch your biceps until your forearms touch your biceps.
- Ensure that your upper arms remain stationary and that only your forearms move.
- As you breathe out, tense your triceps and raise the dumbbell to go back to the starting position.
Repeat this exercise 10 times to complete 1 set. Then, rest for about a minute and repeat another set. As with the other dumbbell exercises, increase the weight of the dumbbells as the exercise gets easier to perform.5
Ensure that you do a good warm up before you do these exercises and cool down after you do them. Wear comfortable, high-quality workout shoes to avoid injuries. Try doing these exercises 3 times a week at least to see some results.
|↑1||Komaroff, Anthony L., ed. Harvard Medical School family health guide. Simon and Schuster, 2005.|
|↑2||Growing Stronger – Strength Training for Older Adults. Center For Disease Control And Prevention.|
|↑3||Bench Dip — Feet Elevated. International Sports Science Association.|
|↑4||Flanagan, S. P., P. M. Vanderburgh, S. G. Borchers, and C. D. Kohstall. “Training college-age women to perform the pull-up exercise.” Research quarterly for exercise and sport 74, no. 1 (2003): 52-59.|
|↑5||MOVE! Physical Activity Handout P32: Sample Strength Activity Plan for Beginners. US Department Of Veterans Affairs.|