Best Exercises for Building and Toning the Arms

Our arms are one of the first parts of the body seen by others. Sculpted or flabby, thin or muscular, our arms form much of the impression communicated by our upper body. Constantly in motion, we use our arms for lifting, holding and gesturing, often showing our personality through arm movement.

Whether you’re a guy who wants to build massively muscular “guns,” or a gal who needs to tone her arms for an upcoming wedding, the subtle message that our arms impart about our overall fitness is measurable. Taking this into account, an effective fitness regimen to enhance the appearance and strength of our arms, should be an essential part of our exercise routine.

Arm workout

Anatomy of the Arm

The combined muscles of the arm fall into three separate groups:

1.) Biceps: A two-headed muscle consisting of the biceps brachii and biceps brachialis. Although the biceps are often the focus of arm workouts, they are not the whole story when it comes to great looking arms.

2.) Triceps: A three-headed muscle, consisting of long, lateral and medial heads, well-developed triceps contribute to a proportionate look for the upper arms.

3.) Forearms: The forearms consist of many smaller muscles, which, although not requiring as much effort to maintain tone, still should not be neglected.

“If you want to tone and shape your arms, you have to use a bigger weight,” Agresti says. “I don’t think women tend to push themselves with sufficient weight and to the level of effort and fatigue necessary.”Web MD

What Type of Training is Effective for Developing and Toning the Arms?

As with all exercises, the best methods of arm training depend upon desired outcomes. Higher numbers of repetitions are indicated for toning, while progressively heavier resistance is optimal for increase in muscle size. Direct, isolated training of individual muscles or muscle groups, as well as indirect training through the use of larger compound movements can both be effective.

arm exercise

Some experimentation may be required to find what works best for each individual, but below are some of the best exercises to develop the muscles of the arm. Both males and females can benefit from these tried and true arm exercises, categorized by the muscles that they benefit the most. Minimal equipment is required.

Best Biceps Exercises

The various exercises described below should be performed with feet at shoulder width, knees slightly bent and hips slightly forward from the knees. Face forward, eyes straight ahead, with your feet flat on the floor and your back straight. Exhale through the difficult part of the exercise and inhale as you compete the movement, back to your starting position.

Barbell Curl: Begin the movement with arms slightly bent and hands gripping the barbell. Bring the weight up towards your shoulders. Keep your elbows in front of your hips at all times. As you complete the movement, fully extend your arms down towards your thighs. Placing your hands closer together or farther apart on the bar will allow you to work different areas of the same muscles.

Alternating Dumbbell Curl: These are done by the same method as the barbell curls described above, except that the use of dumbbells allows the exercise to be done alternately on each arm. Dumbells can be held with either the “bar” facing forward or the end weight facing forward to vary the movements.

Chin-Up: A chin-up will enhance back muscles, as well as arms. You should complete the chin-up using an underhand grip. A weighted vest can be used to increase resistance. Care should be taken not to kick your legs or swing on the bar, as you pull your body weight upward. If you are initially unable to lift your body weight, you can get closer to the bar with a stool or bench and jump into the upper part of the movement to build up your strength.

Best Triceps Exercises

Overhead Dumbbell Press: Grip one end of the dumbbell with both hands, while seated. This exercise is best completed on an incline bench. Bring the dumbbell overhead, with your upper arms straight. Lower the weight behind your head, towards your back, while bending your elbows. Then bring the weight up to your original straight-arm position.

Bench Press With Close Grip: This exercise will also develop the chest. Lie on the bench, with your hands shoulder-width apart on the barbell. Perform a conventional bench press. You can also perform a modified press with the barbell behind your head, while lying down, for variation.

Dip: These dip variations benefit the shoulders, back and chest, as well as the triceps. You can perform dips with your hands behind you on a bench, or between two stationary bars.

Bench Dip: Place your palms on the bench while in a sitting position. Move your body towards the floor in front of the bench, with legs straight and heels on the floor. slowly dip down until your shoulders form a ninety degree angle with your forearms.

Upright Dip: Keep your arms close to your body, as you lower between the bars. Keep your feet together and your upper body straight and vertical. Dip as far down as the range of motion in your shoulders allows. You should always be fully warmed up, especially in your shoulders, before performing dips.

Exercising Your Forearms

The forearms require little formal fitness training to appear fit. Increasing grip strength is really the only way to exercise the forearms effectively. Forearm strength can be enhanced using hand exercisers. The best ones allow you to exercise both the entire hand, or each finger individually.

If you don’t relish the idea of going to the gym, or using equipment for your arm exercises, you can do several common exercises to benefit arm strength and appearance, including push-ups and arm circles.

All workouts require progression to obtain continually improved results. This can be accomplished by increasing the frequency, resistance, or number of times that each exercise is performed. Variations on similar movements can maximize development of every portion of each muscle, as well as decrease boredom.