Getting Great Arms – Strong & Sculpted

woman doing bicep curlsIn this warm and wonderful season of summer, we all get to dress a little lighter—now that it’s time to don tank tops and shorts sleeves, how do you feel about the extra exposure?

Of all your upper body highlights, it’s hard to beat the appeal of strong and sculpted arms. Focus on your biceps and triceps this summer with these super effective moves.

Overall, if you want to build bigger arms, it’s a great idea to concentrate on heavy compound (or, multi-joint) exercises to stimulate muscle growth. Think military press, bent-over rows, and the dips we include below.

To get great shape, also work the major muscles of your arms (biceps and triceps) in isolation. Performing a couple of sets of 8 – 12 with challenging weights, two or three times a week, is a fine way to start.

Once you’ve been at it for a bit, you’re likely to find yourself wanting to experiment with more—either more weight at fewer reps, or more reps at a lower weight to build endurance. Go ahead and mix it up a bit! Adding some exercise variety keeps progressing your training.

Standing Barbell Curl

The barbell curl, as simple as it is, is regarded as one of the best biceps-builders ever. You may know it a staple of body building routines, but it’s an exercise meant for anyone who wants to add strength, size and shape to their arms.

Set Up: Grab a barbell with your palms facing forward and your hands shoulder width apart, arms fully extended. Stand straight with your feet a few apart, your elbows in at your sides and your arms fully extended. The bar should not be touching your body.

Instructions: Bending at the elbows, bring the barbells smoothly up toward the shoulders. Squeeze your biceps at the top of the movement, and then slowly lower the bar back to the starting position. Be sure not to swing the bar, thrust the hips or move the elbows forward while performing this exercise.

Seated Dumbbell Overhead Triceps Press

woman doing tricep press

Like all muscles on the back of the body, triceps might be a little overlooked during training. Don’t do that if you want the full impact of a big, strong upper arm. Here’s a great exercise that make it easier for you to safely use heavy weight and overload the triceps.

Set Up: Sit up straight on the end of a flat bench with your feet in front of you on the floor. Pick up a dumbbell and lift it to the top of your shoulder, then overlap your hands around the dumbbell, then press it up over your head for the starting position.

Instructions: Maintain the overlapping grip and slowly bend your elbows to lower the dumbbell behind your head/neck, then extend your elbows again to press the weight back up to the starting position. Keep a little distance between the dumbbell and the back of your head during the motion, but without arching your back or lifting your chin.

Seated Dumbbell Hammer Curl

The hammer curl helps target the biceps brachialis, the smaller muscle supporting your biceps and separating it visually from the triceps. That helps give your arm an extra attractive boost, making the hammer curl a nice addition to your routine this summer.

Set Up: Sit up straight on the end of a flat bench with your feet in front of you on the floor. Pick up a dumbbell in each hand and let them hang by your sides with your palms facing in to your body, then bend very slightly at the elbows for the starting position.

Instructions: Keeping your elbows tucked in near your sides, slowly curl the dumbbells toward your shoulders. Squeeze the biceps at the top of the movement, and then slowly lower the dumbbells back to the starting position. Maintain control of the exercise pace and motion, taking care not to swing the weights up or drop out of the motion at the bottom.


woman doing bench dip

Two common forms of dips you can choose from are the bench dip and the upright dip using a dip bar. Here we focus on the bench dip, since we’ve been using the bench for our other exercises in this group. Dips also offer work for the chest and shoulders, too. (Why have amazing arms if you can’t surround them with beautiful pecs and deltoids, right?)

Set Up: Get in front of the long side of a stable bench and place your hands, fingers forward, on the edge behind you, shoulder with apart. Extend your legs forward with your feet on the floor and knees somewhat bent, hips raised to hover over the floor.

Instructions: Bend at the elbows to slowly lower your body until you dip down to create an angle at the elbow of 90 degrees or a little less, then press up through the triceps to lift back up to the starting position. Don’t let your elbows spread wide behind you. You can make this move more challenging by raising your feet on another bench in front of you.

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