Sculpt your arms this summer with our pick of the best arm exercises for women, designed to target and tone your triceps, biceps and forearms…
Ready to strengthen those arm muscles? Whether your goal is to simply tone your arms or you’re looking to build some serious muscles, the following exercises are sure to help you on your fitness journey. Most exercises are equipment-free, but you’ll need a resistance band, a step and a pair of dumbbells for some.
Without further ado, here are the best arm exercises for women who are looking to tone up and strengthen their arms…
Best arm exercises for women
1. Resistance band biceps curl
Benefits: This move makes your arms work hard at the top of the curl (whereas with dumbbells the tough part’s at the bottom).
- Stand on a resistance band and trap either end with your hands, keeping a slight bend at the elbow. Your feet should be parallel and shoulder-width apart, your palms facing forwards (A).
- Keeping your abdominal muscles tight and your elbows tucked into your sides, curl your hands up to your shoulders (B).
- Return to the start. Aim to do eight to 15 reps.
Quick tip: Don’t push your pelvic area out as you curl.
2. Dumbbell bent-over triceps kickback
Benefits: A fabulous all-over exercise to work your back, triceps, abdominals and legs.
- Take your dumbbells and stand with your hands by your sides, a dumbbell in each one, palms facing in.
- Bend from the hips until your torso is parallel to the floor. Bend your knees, making sure they stay over your feet, and look down.
- Bend your arms and bring your elbows up to shoulder level, keeping them close to your body (A).
- Hold, then straighten your arms out behind you, squeezing the triceps. Your palms should be facing each other (B). Aim to do eight to 15 reps.
Quick tip: Move smoothly, trying not to swing your arms.
3. Dumbbell Zottman curl
Benefits: A subtle exercise to target all parts of your bicep muscles.
- Stand with your spine straight, feet shoulder- width apart and a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing forwards (A).
- Curl the dumbbells up, keeping your elbows tucked into your sides (B).
- Rotate your wrists so that your palms face forwards (C), then lower the weights slowly (D).
- Rotate your wrists again to return to the start position. Aim to do eight to 15 reps.
Quick tip: Keep your elbows close to your body throughout.
4. Resistance band triceps extension
Benefits: Great for your back and triceps, and for increasing shoulder flexibility.
- Place your feet hip-width apart, spine neutral and focus forwards.
- Grabbing your resistance band in your right hand, place your hand behind your back then grab the other end of the band with your left hand (A).
- Extend your right elbow until your arm is fully extended (B).
- Return to the starting position and aim to repeat six to eight times before swapping sides.
Quick tip: Don’t arch your back as you extend your arms.
5. Dumbbell squat to curl to press
Benefits: A three-part exercise for your thighs, biceps, shoulders and legs.
- Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width, dumbbells in your hands by your sides, palms facing in.
- Slowly bend your knees into a squat until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Keep your back straight, and feet and knees in line (A).
- Push through your heels to stand up dynamically, simultaneously curling the dumbbells up to your shoulders (B).
- In another dynamic movement, extend your arms overhead and rotate your hands forwards (C).
- Return the weights to your shoulders and move back into the squat, then lower your hands to the starting position.
- Aim to repeat eight to 15 times.
Quick tip: Keep your chest open and upright throughout the exercise.
6. Bent-leg dip
Benefits: It’s another classic move for your shoulders and core, as well as your triceps.
- Sit on a bench or step, hands either side of your body, fingers pointing forwards and gripping on to the edge.
- Step your feet forward and slide your bottom carefully off the bench/step.
- Keep your knees bent and your chin parallel to the floor (A).
- Slowly bend your arms behind you as you lower your bottom (B).
- Pause, then push yourself up to the straight- arm position. Aim to repeat eight to 15 times.
7. Close-grip press-up
Benefits: Starting with your hands close together will challenge your triceps more than a regular press-up.
- Assume a normal press-up position, but place your palms next to each other so they’re narrower than shoulder width (A).
- Keeping your head in line with your spine and focusing on the mat, bend your arms to lower your body until your chest nearly touches the floor.
- Keep your elbows close to your body (B).
- Smoothly push yourself back up to the starting position, without locking your elbows.
- Aim to do eight to 15 reps.
Quick tip: Place your feet on a balance ball for an extra challenge.
8. Cuban press
Benefits: Tests all parts of your arms and shoulders, and great for increasing your range of movement.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, dumbbells resting on your upper thighs, palms facing backwards (A).
- Raise your elbows until your upper arms are in line with your shoulders. Your palms should still be facing backwards, and keep a 90° angle between your upper arms, and forearms (B).
- Rotate your elbows, raising the dumbbells so your palms are now facing forwards. Your upper arms should still be in line with your shoulders, and maintain the 90° bend in your elbows (C).
- Keeping your lower body still, raise your arms into a press, hands above shoulders, palms still facing forwards, keeping a slight bend in your elbows (D).
- Reverse through the stages to return to the start.
- Aim to do eight to 15 reps.