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These Are The Best Arm Exercises Recommended By Real Personal Trainers

Switching up your workouts is a really great way to make sure your mind and body stay engaged — and especially when you’re working out at home, you may not have the same motivation you’d have while attending classes or physically going to the gym. And if you really miss the gym experience of being able to get some advice on what to do with your body from people who actually understand the science behind it and you’d kill for some pointers on how to target the areas you want to give extra TLC to, our latest personal trainer-approved workouts can totally help you out.

SheKnows spoke with a few top personal trainers with expertise ranging from barre to yoga about the targeted workouts they’d recommend to clients for their legs, core and, finally, arms.

So instead of relying on your standard arm workout (like, maybe you do really love your kettlebells, but they can get old!), check out these routines for strong, toned arms that our favorite personal trainers love — and see if you don’t feel like a superhero by the time you’re done.

Katelyn DiGiorgio’s Pure Barre  arm workout

Pure Barre’s VP Training & Technique, Katelyn DiGiorgio, shares her favorite ballet-inspired workouts for your arms that will lengthen and tone your body like a dancer.

Pushup Series

“Pushups help strengthen the chest, shoulders, biceps, triceps and upper back, while also recruiting the core, glutes and quads to stay strong and stable in the position,” says DiGiorgio. “There are so many variations of pushups – working from the knees, triceps pushups, switching up your tempo, standing at the barre or counter – they’re modifiable for most people and it’s a great move to perfect over time.”

  • Carefully come down to all fours, place your hands slightly wider than your shoulders. Walk the feet back behind you, hip width apart, and press the balls of your feet down into the floor.
  • Bend and press the arms (make sure to keep your core engaged), using a controlled range of motion that is manageable for you.
  • Repeat for 2 sets of 10-12 reps.
  • Lower down to your knees and bend the heels in towards your seat. Walk your hands in underneath the shoulders.
  • Bend and press the arms (make sure to keep your core engaged and keep the elbows narrow). Your range of motion may be smaller here, and that’s OK!
  • Repeat for 2 sets of 10-12 reps.
  • On the final rep, hold at your lowest point (isometric hold) for 10 seconds.

Lunges with bicep curls

“While still low-impact and controlled, a lunge with biceps curls hits multiple muscle groups working at once, which helps get your heart rate up,” says DiGiorgio. “The biceps are responsible for many arm movements including: flexing the elbow joint to bend the hand towards the shoulder, flexing the shoulder joint, and abduction of the humerus.” DiGiorgio suggests using a light (2-3 lb) set of dumbbells, or you can work without any weights and focus on tight contractions of the biceps.

  • Stand with your feet hip width apart.
  • Take a big step back with your right foot, pressing the ball of the right foot into the floor.
  • Bring your arms to a low “V” shape in front of your with your palms facing up.
  • Bend the knees to sink into a lunge (90-degree bends in both knees is your goal) as you curl the arms in.
  • Stand back up as you extend the arms straight.
  • Repeat 2 sets of 15 reps.
  • Switch legs. Flip your palms in to face your midline. Repeat 2 sets of 15 reps.

Mindbody Fitness Specialist and NASM CPT Keegan Draper’s arm workout

“It is important to make sure that your exercises are hitting each part of your arms – this means biceps, triceps, shoulders and forearms. For biceps, I really love hammer curls to work both the bicep brachii and the brachialis, while going across multiple joints.”

Hammer Curls

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart with a slight bend in your knee.
  • Hold a pair of dumbbells of your choice in your hands with your palms facing towards your body — as if you’re holding a hammer.
  • Keeping elbows close to the body and abs tight, slowly curl the dumbbell up to your shoulders and then slowly lower the weights with control.
  • Repeat 12-15 reps for three sets.

Blink Fitness personal trainer Lexes O’Hara’s arm workout

“My favorite way to isolate the biceps is through preacher curls. These are great for a few reasons: they’re a movement that makes it harder to cheat on form by ‘swinging’ the weight up and using momentum rather than using your arms to lift the weight. They also are a great teacher for working through the full range of motion of a curl. When doing these, it’s important to fully extend your arms all the way to the bottom of the curl to get all of the benefits!”

Preacher Curls

  • Sit on the preacher bench and adjust the height so your armpits are just touching the top of the sloped section. Make sure your feet are planted on the ground, your back and straight and abs are engaged, and that body stays still throughout the movement.
  • Hold the weight using an underhand grip (palms facing up) with your arms extended and your upper arms resting on the bench.
  • Curl the weight up, keeping your upper arms on the bench, until your forearms are vertical. Pause for a second at the top of the curl, then slowly lower the weight until your arms are fully extended once again.

HelloYoga’s Samora Suber’s arm workout

“Dolphin Pose tones the arms and strengthens the core while relieving pressure on your wrists,” says Suber. “This pose also stretches the hamstring and calf muscles. Create a routine by holding Dolphin for 30 seconds and then Downward Facing Dog for 10-second intervals.”

Dolphin Pose

  • Get into a forearm plank position with your shoulders above your wrists and your knees directly below your hips and your abs engaged.
  • Exhale as you lift your knees away from the floor. Keep your knees slightly bent as you lift the sitting bones toward the ceiling.
  • Straighten the legs if you wish. Continue to press the forearms actively into the floor and firm your shoulder blades against your back, while holding your head between the upper arms.

A version of this story was published November 2020.

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