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10 Best Exercises for Toning your Arms

10 Best Exercises for Toning your Arms

Everyone has an area they wish was a little more toned. For a lot of people, that’s their arms, especially during the summer and the warmer temperatures. It’s the season for tank tops and sleeveless shirts. Here we have put together 10 of our favorite exercise to help you tone your arms and shoulders.

Bicep Curl

Start by standing up straight with a dumbbell in each hand. Extend your arms at your side. Keeping your elbows close to your body and your upper arms stationary, bring your forearms to your shoulder using your biceps. Then lower the weight back down in a controlled manner.

Reverse Fly

Start with a dumbbell in each hand and bend forward at the hips so your chest is parallel to the ground. Feet should be shoulder-width apart and dumbbells hanging straight down. Have your palms facing inward toward each other with your arms slightly bent. Keeping your back in a straight line, extend arms straight out to the side. Hold at the top for a brief pause to avoid bouncing and then, with a controlled tempo, lower back down to the starting position.

Tricep Extensions

You can do this with either one single dumbbell or two dumbbells, one in each hand. Start by standing straight up with your feet about shoulder-width apart. Lift the dumbbell straight overhead and have arms fully extended, then keeping your upper arms in place slowly lower the dumbbell towards the top of your back bending your arms only at the elbow. Then slowly raise the dumbbell back up to the starting position.

Ladies, don’t fall into the trap of thinking lifting weights will make you bulky; read more here!

Lateral Raise

Start by standing straight up with a dumbbell in each hand, and feet hip-width apart. Keeping your core tight, raise both dumbbells at the same time out to the side, keeping a slight bend in the elbow. Then lower them back down to your side at a slow controlled pace.

Front Raise

Like the lateral raise you, begin by standing straight up with a dumbbell in each hand, feet hip-width apart. Then, keeping the core tight, raise both dumbbells straight out in front of you to shoulder height. Your palms should be facing each other with thumbs facing upward. Then lower them back down to the starting position at a slow and controlled pace.


Start by laying on the floor face down, with your hands about shoulder-width apart. The ball of each of your feet should be touching the ground. Keeping your core tight and body in a straight line, use your upper body to push yourself up from the ground. Pause at the top then lower your self back to the ground at a controlled pace. You can always make this exercise harder and target different areas of your arms by altering your hand position. You can try narrow, wide, diamond, and even single arm if the regular pushups become too easy.

Bent Over Double Dumbbell Row

Start with a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing inward. Standing with your feet about hip-width apart; you will have a slight bend in the knees and bend forward at the waist. The dumbbells should be hanging straight down towards the ground. Then, ensuring to keep your core tight and your back in a straight line, you will pull the dumbbells towards your waist engaging the back muscles. Pause for a second at the waist and then lower back to the starting position. 

Push Press

You can do this exercise with many different pieces of equipment. It is most commonly done with a dumbbell or kettlebell. For the explanation, we will talk in terms of dumbbells. Start standing up straight with a slight bend in the knees and feet about shoulder-width apart. Have the dumbbells in a front rack position and the head of the dumbbells touching the shoulder, palms facing inward towards your ears. Then, using your arms, push straight up; it is ok to use your legs to help a little bit. Push up to full extension, then lower back down to your shoulders at a controlled pace so as to not drop the dumbbells on your shoulders. 

Plank to Push-up 

Start at the top of a plank position, toes and palms on the ground. Feet shoulder-width apart, tight core and glutes and a flat back. From there, one hand at a time, move from your elbow on the ground to the palm of your hand on the ground, same thing on the opposite arm and then back down. It’s best to keep the same pattern so you don’t lose track. A good pattern to follow is left elbow to hand, right elbow to hand and then back down left hand to elbow, right hand to elbow. Once you have gone up and back down on both hands that is one rep completed. Follow that same pattern until all reps are completed.

Keep in mind that strength training can benefit more than just your arms!

External Rotation

For this exercise, you will be using smaller muscles, so it is important to keep the weights light to start. Begin with a small dumbbell in each hand and stand straight up with feet about hip-width apart. You will want to hold your arms out to the side and bend your elbows at 90 degrees with your hand up and in line with your head. You will then rotate just your forearms forward to be parallel with the ground, keeping your elbows in place. Then bring them back up to starting position. That completes the rep.

Bring It All Together

There is a great variety of exercises and variations of exercises that you can do to tone your arms, so make sure you vary the exercises. Try to work your arms 2-3 days per week and complete 3-5 sets of each exercise. As you increase the weight, the reps should be lower and vice versa. So, if you are doing 12-15 reps the weight will be much lighter than if you are completing 3-5 reps.

Love setting up your own exercise programs and want to learn more? Interested in stepping that up a notch to develop workout programs for clients? Explore the ISSA’s online course for personal training. You can learn more for your own benefit or to help others get fit and build healthy habits.


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