If you’re anything like us, toning your arms might sometimes seem like an impossible task.
Exercise enthusiasts and athletes might make it look easy to knock out a couple of one-handed push-ups. But when it comes to the rest of us… Well, let’s just say upper body strength isn’t always our strong suit, okay?
Still, there’s something about slender, toned arms that’s undeniably appealing.
So, we’ve put together a collection of exercises that don’t require push-ups, pull-ups or any fancy equipment. In fact, we guarantee that if you pick out your favourites from the list and stick to them, you’ll never want to wear sleeves again.
When we said no fancy equipment, we meant it! One pair of dumbbells is all you need to get started on toning those arms, for good.
You might not realise it, but dumbbells and bodyweight exercises are all you need to work every muscle in your arms. That includes your biceps (the front part of your upper arm), triceps (the back part) and delts (shoulders).
For the record, if you want to lose arm flab and those pesky bingo wings, this is the way.
EmSculpt alone isn’t your magic solution. Increasing your cardio isn’t going to cut it. As you’ve probably heard, simply having more muscle helps your body to burn more calories (though not as many as you might think).
Many people worry that toning up their arms means getting overly muscular and bulky. The truth is, it’s more difficult than you might think to build heft in the arm area. These exercises are all about fatiguing your arms into submission, taming the wobbly bits and aiming for aesthetics.
A word of warning: don’t overdo it. Yes, you only need a pair of dumbbells, but choose a lower weight to begin with; work your way up as your muscles grow accustomed to the resistance.
We’ve created a solid mix and match list of exercises here, so you can take your pick of your favourites. Then, keep it simple!
- Select six exercises you fancy giving a go
- Perform 12 reps of each
Once you’re done, give yourself a rest for a minute. Just one minute, though – and then start again. Repeat the rounds three more times for a full arm workout (it should take around fifteen minutes).
Then pat yourself on the back. (If you can still manage to move your arms, that is).
1. Bicep Curl
An old favourite for working the biceps (as you’ve likely guessed).
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart, arms by your sides
- Keep your palms facing forward, your chest upright and your back straight
Good, now, without moving the upper part of your arms…
- Bend your elbows and lift the dumbbells toward your shoulders
- Then slowly lower them back down again into the starting position
Whatever you do, don’t just let your arms flop back down. It’s the controlled lift and lower that works your muscles.
2. Upright Row
Once again, we’re going hip-width apart. This one works your shoulders nicely.
With your arms resting in front of your body…
- Hold one dumbbell in each hand
- Now lift them both by raising your elbows to chest level
- Slowly, with control, lower them back to your waist, and repeat.
3. Triceps Kickback
For this one, you’ll need your feet closer together (around a foot-length gap), with your knees bent.
With a dumbbell in each hand…
- Lean forward a little with your elbows in and by your sides, bent at 90-degrees
- Then press the dumbbells back and up behind you (this is the ‘kick’ part)
- As you straighten your arms, squeeze your triceps.
Once you’ve returned to your starting position, you’ve completed one rep, and worked the triceps at the back of your upper arms.
4. Triceps Dip
Okay, this one assumes that you own a chair – but that seems like a safe enough bet to make…
- Sit in your chair and grip the front edge of the seat with both hands
- Next, scoot your bottom forward until you’re hovering just off the seat, and your legs are bent at 90-degrees
- Now straighten your arms
- Lower your whole body down, carrying your weight on your arms until they form a 90-degree angle
- Then push yourself back up by engaging the back of your arms (the triceps). There you go, one rep.
5. Dumbbell Floor Press
For this one, you’ll need to be lying down.
Lay on your back and bend your knees. Keep your feet placed flat on the floor (there should be about a foot between your heels and your bottom).
With a dumbbell in each hand…
- Reach your arms out and extend them up over your shoulders, with your palms facing each other
- Now (keeping control over the weights), bend and lower your arms until the back of your triceps touch the ground.
At this point, your dumbbells should still be raised, and your elbows should form a 45-degree angle. Reverse the movement, slowly and with control, and you’ve completed one rep.
6. Single Arm Dumbbell Floor Press
No surprises here, but this is exactly the same as above, but using only one arm. Your free arm should be flat on the ground beside you, palm down.
If you’re struggling to do dumbbell floor press with both arms at the same time, or want to focus on one side, then this is the way to do it. And if you’re still struggling, consider using a lighter weight and building up as you get used to the strain.
7. Alternating Dumbbell Floor Press
Okay, so if the name didn’t give it away…
This is another version of the normal Dumbbell Floor Press, but works both arms, unlike the single-arm version.
The benefit to this is two-fold.
- While one arm ‘rests’, it’s still actively carrying the weight of the dumbbell
- As you swap out each arm, you’ll find it easier to brace your core and chest muscles as you move, so it’s working more than just your arm muscles.
8. Rear Delt Fly
One of our favourites, and we’re back to standing with your feet hip-width apart.
- Bend your knees slightly, and lean forward from the hips
- Allow your arms to hang straight down from your shoulders
- Keep your palms facing your body as you hold your dumbbells
Now, raise both arms out to the sides with your elbow slightly bent, and squeeze your shoulder blades together as you do so.
Return to your starting position slowly, with control, and you’ve completed one rep.
9. Plank with Biceps Curl
Who doesn’t have a love/hate relationship with planking?
This one begins in a normal plank position on the ground, with your dumbbells in your hands. This only works with dumbbells of a certain size, we might add. With small dumbbells, you might have a little difficulty.
So, dumbbells directly beneath your shoulders, core and hips are nice and stable…
- Bring your right dumbbell toward your shoulder, and lower it back down. Keep it nice and controlled
- Then repeat on the other side
Once you’ve completed both sides, you’ve done one rep.