Are you looking for arm exercises to tone and strengthen your muscles? If so, you’re in luck. This article will provide you with some of the best arm exercises for toning and strengthening your muscles. (1, 2, 3)
Table of Contents
Benefits of Arm Exercises
Of course, if you want to bulk up your arms, arm exercises should be a regular part of your weekly routine. We’re all aware of the aesthetic benefits of biceps, but what about some additional reasons to include arm workouts rather than filling out a shirt?
Arm workouts, notably those using weights and bodyweight resistance, are classified as “resistance training.” Resistance training has numerous advantages, ranging from enhanced heart health to improved body image (how we see our bodies). In fact, a study of 11 separate studies on resistance training published in J Strength Cond Res discovered that it can dramatically enhance several forms of body image. So there’s even more reason to enjoy the lift we get from flexing in front of the mirror after a hard arm exercise.
Below, we present the best arm exercises and a detailed ‘how to’ that’ll ensure you complete each rep with perfect form and explain the specific benefit of each exercise – helping you pick the perfect combination for every goal. We’ve also included arm-building tips from a Top PT that will target your guns.
Why are you hitting your arms from all angles?
If you want genuinely massive arms and slabs of meat that seem thick and full from every aspect, you need to realize that arm day is about more than just your biceps. In fact, biceps should not be your primary focus. Yes, they are the crown jewel of the arm muscle, the one that makes your t-shirt stand out, but did you know that your triceps make up the majority of the arm? Don’t forget about your forearms – don’t worry, we’ve got exercises for them – and start thinking about grip and how little changes on the dumbbell can help attack specific muscles in the arm that will assist contribute to growth, size, and thickness.
Biceps (arm Exercises)
How to: Grab a barbell with a shoulder-width grip and let it hang in front of your thighs. Brace your core as you curl the bar up to your chest, keeping your elbows pinned to your waist. Return under control to the start position.
Why: For good reason, the barbell bicep curl is the king of arm exercises. You’ll be able to add weight to the bar, but be cautious and attempt to avoid momentum. You’ll isolate your biceps and get a bigger pump if you keep your reps clean.
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.
Why: The twist activates your forearm. It won’t work your biceps as hard as other arm exercises, but if you’re squeezing sets in over lunch, this routine will work more of your arm in less time.
How to: Sit down on the bench and rest your right arm against your right leg, letting the weight hang down. Curl the weight up, pause, and then lower. Repeat with the other arm.
Why: This isolates the arm flexors while also striking the lateral head of the biceps for maximum performance (and aesthetics).
How to: Sit on an incline bench and grip a dumbbell at arm’s length in each hand. Curl the dumbbell with your biceps until it reaches your shoulder, then lower it 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.
Reverse Curl Straight Bar
How to: Stand with an overhand hold on a barbell at shoulder width. Flex your elbows and spin the barbell up using only your forearms until your palms face out and the barbell is in line with your shoulders. Slowly lower it back down and repeat.
Why: Often neglected because it works the brachialis, an invisible muscle lower down your upper arm — but one essential for bigger biceps. Train it well and the brachialis pushes the peak of your bicep muscle up higher, making for a more impressive flex and bigger-looking arms.
Underhand Seated Row
How to: Bend your knees and take an underhand grip on the bar, shoulder-width apart. Lean back slightly while keeping your back straight, then drive the bar towards your belly button with your back muscle. Repeat by returning the bar to its beginning position.
Why: Go one better-than-bodyweight move in your quest for bigger biceps — this doesn’t take up a squat rack, either.
Leant-Forward EZ Bar Curl
How to: With an underhand, shoulder-width grip, hold the EZ bar in front of your thighs. Lean forward slightly, so that your torso is at a 30-degree angle to your hips. Curl the bar as you inhale, until your hands are at your shoulders. Squeeze your biceps, then lower slowly.
Why: You’re strengthening the main flexor muscle involved in finger strength, which will give you a vice-like grasp for the heavier lifts – plus a bone-crushing handshake to boot. Furthermore, the forward tilt means that swinging up the final few reps with your hips is a no-no. Perfect form equals perfect gains.
Prone Dumbbell Spider Curl
How to: Lie down on an incline bench with a dumbbell in each hand, and let them hang beneath your shoulders. Curl the dumbbells towards your shoulders using your biceps. Return to the starting position slowly and repeat.
Why: Lying against the bench assists you in mastering the proper curling technique, which is useful in a variety of arm exercises. If your chest lifts off it, you’re cheating, but if you keep it flat for each rep, you’ve nailed another set in your quest for bigger biceps.
Reverse-Grip EZ Bar Curl
How to: Hold the EZ bar in front of your thighs with an overhand, shoulder-width grip. As you breathe in, curl the bar until your hands are at your shoulders. Squeeze your biceps, then lower them under control.
Why: No matter how many arm exercises and curls you do, biceps development might be greatly hampered by elbow and forearm limitations. To correct it, this technique targets your brachioradialis (forearm muscle).
Incline Hammer Curl
How to: Place your feet on an incline bench and grasp a dumbbell in each hand by your side. Lift the dumbbell to your shoulders while keeping your upper arm motionless and your palms facing inward. Repeat by bringing it back down to your side.
Why: The inclined nature of the bench offers more comprehensive arm exercises, focusing more on the long head of the biceps brachii and the brachialis muscle.
Triceps (arm Exercises)
How to: Lay on the floor with your back straight and your hands in a diamond shape. Reduce your body weight until your chest almost touches the floor. Return to the starting position by tightening your triceps and chest at the same moment.
Why: Narrowing your grip works all three heads of your triceps, along with your chest, to sculpt an eye-catching definition.
One Arm Tricep Extension (seated)
How to: Hold a dumbbell in one hand straight behind your head, elbow bent and pointing to the ceiling. Extend your arm until it is straight and the dumbbell is exactly above you. Return your arm to the starting position and repeat.
Why: The motion strengthens your arms and adds stability to your shoulders and elbows. Working unilaterally will also eliminate any muscle imbalances.
How to: In your right hand, grip an EZ bar just above your shoulder. Extend your arm and drive the bar above your head, then return it to your shoulder and repeat.
Why: This strengthens your triceps unilaterally (one arm at a time) for even increases, while the added instability from awkward equipment helps stimulate tiny shoulder muscles that protect the joint from harm. Plus, you’ll stand out among the guys wielding dumbbells.
Decline Close-Grip EZ Bar Skullcrusher
How to: Place your back on a bench with a 30-degree decline. Extend your arms straight up, palms towards your feet, and hold the EZ bar on the innermost grips. Lower the bar until it is approximately an inch from your forehead, keeping your elbows locked and tucked in. Return your arms to the starting position slowly, without locking your elbows.
Why: Don’t be scared of the name, this is one of the arm exercises for ultimate triceps builders. Set the bench to decline and it’ll increase your range of motion for increased muscle activation.
How to: Raise two dumbbells squarely over your shoulders while lying on a bench. Slowly bend your elbows to bring the dumbbells to your chest, palms facing out and dumbbells pointing to the ceiling. Return the dumbbells to their initial position and resume.
Why: Working at this angle emphasizes the long head of the triceps, resulting in more obvious muscle isolation at the back of your arms. Unfortunately, wearing a vest to show them off at work is outside the rules..
Close-Grip Bench Press
How to: Hold a barbell above your sternum with your arms absolutely straight and hold them overhand shoulder-width apart. Lower the bar straight down, pause, and then return to the starting position.
Why: This is an excellent triceps exercise that also trains your chest and core. By bringing your hands closer together, your triceps are forced to work harder, resulting in development and increased strength.
Standing Overhead Barbell Triceps Extension
How to: Grab a barbell and hold it over your head with both hands, palms facing forwards, almost touching. Bend your elbows and drop the bar behind your head while keeping your upper arms still. Pause after your elbows have reached 90 degrees, then return to the beginning position by bending your triceps.
Why: Using a barbell overhead instead of dumbbells offers you an improved grip. Use your strength to try to snap the barbell at the top of the rep; this will engage the most muscle fibers.
How to: Connect a rope handle to a cable station’s high pulley. Holding the handle with your elbows tucked in at your sides, anxiety your core, and bring your hands down until your arms are completely extended, then return to the beginning position. Your forearms should only move.
Why: Ensuring you only move your forearms will force your triceps to do the majority of the work.
Tricep Dips (Advanced)
How to: Hoist yourself up on parallel bars, perpendicular to the floor. Bend your knees and lower your body gradually until your shoulder joints are below your elbows. Push your elbows back up until they are nearly straight but not locked. If you have shoulder problems, avoid this exercise.
Why: Lifting your complete body weight causes your triceps to work much harder than they would if you were just isolating your tris.
How to: Begin by standing and hing at the hips, putting your hips behind your heels, keeping your back level and your arms bent, elbows pinned to your waist. Maintain a straight line with your arms behind you, keeping your elbows in place. For a beat, contract the triceps. Slowly resist the dumbbells returning to their starting position. Avoid using momentum; no cheating on reps.
Why: Tricep kickbacks are an underappreciated dumbbell workout when done correctly. In order to isolate your triceps, you must focus on greater rep ranges, moderate weight selection, and perfect form. This will let you push yourself closer to failure for a t-shirt-popping tricep pump.
Wrist (arm Exercises)
Straight Barbell Palms-Up Wrist Curl
How to: Sit on a bench with your palms facing up and a barbell in your hands. Rest your forearms on your knees and descend the bar as far as possible to the floor. Raise your wrist, pause, and then slowly lower it.
Why: Your forearms will be on display long after your beach body has disappeared, so treat them with care. Your grip strength will also be much increased on deadlift day.
Straight Barbell Palms-Down Wrist Curl
How to: Place your hands on a bench and hold a barbell with your palms facing down. Rest your forearms on your knees and descend the bar as far as possible to the floor. Raise your wrist, pause, and then slowly lower it.
Why: This subtle move isn’t one for show-boating, but don’t skip it. It targets the extensor muscles to minimize wrist and elbow injury during other moves.
This workout strengthens the wrist muscles by using a tiny, weighted roller. Roll the roller back and forth with one hand, keeping your wrist straight. Repeat 10 times on each hand.
Tips for increasing arm muscles
Use Heavy Dropsets
Before switching to a rep-out weight in your arm exercises, Inzani recommends loading up a bar with a weight you can handle for 5 rigorous reps. Squeeze out 8-10 reps in each arm using precise unilateral movements (one arm at a time), keeping the elbows next to the body, your back straight, and without wobbling. Form is essential; do not move the resting arm until the other has completed its rep.
Use the cable
The use of the cable in exercises works to increase blood pumping in the muscles, which helps the muscles grow faster and better
Use The Zottman Curl
It’s not only about the biceps when it comes to building a big, thick upper arm; this workout also strengthens the often-overlooked elbow flexors. To begin, grab a pair of dumbbells and sit at the edge of a flat bench, fully stretching your arms downward and palms facing forward. Curl normally, but maintain your palm turned away from your body to avoid recruiting the forearm flexors – if required, bend your wrist backward.
Rotate your hands to face downwards at the top, preparing to do the ‘eccentric’ (downward) component of a reverse dumbbell curl before slowly lowering. Maintain your elbows pinned to your sides at all times; if they tend to flare out, use less weight. In your arm exercises, do 8-10 reps for 3 sets of 8-10 reps.
Again, proper technique is essential in transforming this gym classic into a dangerous weapon in your arm-building arsenal. A correct chin-up is defined by straight arms bringing the chin up over the bar – begin by holding the bar with hands approximately 6 inches apart at first, then aim to engage the lats to get moving. At the apex, use your biceps to keep the contraction going for two seconds. Instead of dithering, Inzani advises using the muscles’ innate ‘elastic potential,’ by exploding up at the bottom of the movement. Result? You squeeze in a couple more reps to bulk up your biceps.
How do you get rid of flab on your arms fast?
Cardio workouts and strength training routines are two of the most popular options. Some people also prefer interval exercise, which helps hasten the process of decreasing arm fat. Aerobics or cardio, strength training, and flexibility or balancing exercises are all popular workouts for reducing arm fat.
Is 5 arm exercises enough?
Effective arm exercises should consist of no more than 1-3 motions every session, with any more resulting in undue fatigue and uneven form and technique. An arm regimen typically consists of 1-3 arm exercises per muscle every workout.
Can I train my arms every day?
Arms can be trained 2-6 times per week. The more you train your arms, the less you should do per day. If you train your arms twice a week, you’ll execute 2-3 exercises per session for a total of 3-4 sets. If you train your arms six days a week, you’ll execute one exercise per muscle group per day for two sets.
How many sets for the triceps?
The triceps are a minor muscular group. In most cases, 12 sets will suffice. Consider completing fewer sets if you do chest or shoulder pressing exercises earlier in the program because your tri’s receive some work locking out presses.
1. Jamurtas, A. Z., Theocharis, V., Tofas, T., Tsiokanos, A., Yfanti, C., Paschalis, V., … & Nosaka, K. (2005). Comparison between leg and arm eccentric exercises of the same relative intensity on indices of muscle damage. European journal of applied physiology, 95, 179-185.
2. Janaudis-Ferreira, T., Beauchamp, M. K., Goldstein, R. S., & Brooks, D. (2012). How should we measure arm exercise capacity in patients with COPD?: A systematic review. Chest, 141(1), 111-120.
3. Goršič, M., Hlucny, S. D., & Novak, D. (2020). Effects of different opponent types on motivation and exercise intensity in a competitive arm exercises game. Games for Health Journal, 9(1), 31-36.