“Suns out, Guns out” & “Curls for the Girls.” Quotes that are all about training your arms, specifically biceps and triceps. And who doesn’t want strong, better looking arms? Be prepared to throw out those 3lb and 5lb weights, and lift some serious weight.
What’s one of the top problem areas women point to when discussing losing weight or improving their appearance? Their arms or more specifically the “arm jiggle.” And the very first thing I do is stand up and make my arm jiggle as well. Why? Because the arm jiggle isn’t a real thing. This is one of the many misconceptions that I want to dispel right off the bat before I get to any of the awesome exercises in this article.
In a majority of people, every time they demonstrate the “jiggle,” it’s just relaxed muscle tissue, specifically your triceps. A well developed triceps is going to have that appearance when relaxed. Its basic anatomy and physiology. Relaxed muscle is simply just that, relaxed. It’s not going to show any definition or any contracture.RELATED: RECOMMENDED PLANS FOR YOU
It’s literally going to hang there. This is what I want you to do for me, contract your triceps and let me know if there’s still a jiggle. No? Good, let’s move on.
So you want to have arms that will be the envy of all your friends and will look awesome in anything you wear? You’re going to have to put in some work.
It most certainly won’t include you lifting 3-5lb weights and doing endless amounts of reps. Like I mentioned in a previous strength training article, using your muscles through different rep ranges and intensities is the key to building solid, good looking arms. And if you’re after that “toned” look, that’s exactly what you want muscle!
Lastly before the workouts, I want to dispel another buzzword that doesn’t really have any meaning or it doesn’t mean what you think it means. Muscle tone is just the state in which your muscles are.
At rest, your muscles will have some residual or partial contraction to them. It is a completely involuntary state so doing any sort of lifting is not going to change that. What is going to, and can change, is the ratio of muscle mass to fat mass on your body.
Remember muscles and muscle cells can only do 2 things.
– Get bigger and/or stronger
– Get smaller and/or weaker
You definitely don’t want to do the latter. So let’s get to creating the former.
You want to work the biggest muscles first being that you can load them with more weight, and in turn put more tension on the arm muscles themselves. Think chin-ups to work your biceps or pushups to work your triceps. This will help create a bigger overload to the muscles, making them not only stronger, but better looking.
Some of the exercises will require external resistance via dumbbells or bands, while some you will just need your bodyweight. Either way, your arms are sure to get an awesome workout.
-Bench press (bar or dumbbells) – This is a great way to load your upper body muscles and create stronger arms. There might be a little apprehension in the beginning to performing the bench press as it’s commonly seen as a man’s exercise, but that shouldn’t stop you. It requires numerous muscles to perform, leading to not only more strength, but better looking arms as well.
-One arm dumbbell row- Not only a great exercise for the arms, this will also strengthen your upper back and work your obliques as well.
-Front raise/side raise- A great two way exercise for the shoulders. You’ll perform a front raise, followed by a side raise to hit the shoulders.
-Bicep curls with bands
-Banded triceps extension
This second workout requires ONLY your bodyweight to perform, as well as a bar or TRX to do rows. You can’t get any more uncomplicated than this workout. What you’re going to do is push yourself as close to failure as you can, leaving about 2-3 reps in the tank.
-Triangle/Diamond Push-ups- 100 reps (picture)
According to an EMG research study done by the American Counsel of Exercise (ACE), this is the number one exercise for triceps. It was found to recruit the most muscle fibers in the triceps than any other exercise.
-Chin-ups– 50 reps
-Dips– 50 reps
Try to avoid doing these on a bench, as they can be really rough on the shoulders. Parallel bars work really well or even using two benches, straight legged in front of you with only your heels on the ground.
-Inverted/bodyweight row– 100 reps
*This is one of my favorite upper body/arm workouts for when I’m short on time.
-Floor press (bar or dumbbells) – Similar to the bench press, but you lay on the floor, bringing the weight down until your arms tap the ground, then you press back up.
-Tate press– A great isolation exercise for the triceps.
-Shoulder complex (I, Y, T) – Often ignored is the back of the shoulders/upper back. Not only is this complex great for your arms but it is great for your posture.
-Hammer curls – Just like Bicep curls, but with a neutral grip.
While Triangle Push-ups were solely mentioned above, there is an endless amount of ways to do push-ups. Feel free to add any other variations to your workouts for a great arm workout.
Remember to combine different rep ranges and intensities for some of the exercises requiring resistance. The more muscles & joints that the exercise requires, the more weight you can use and in the end the more calories you’ll end up using. Plus you’ll activate a lot more muscle fibers in your arms.
Lastly, you can do all the arm workouts that you want, but if you are not combining your training with a solid nutrition plan, your awesome arm muscles will remain hidden. Don’t let your workouts go to waste.