Lately, I have been obsessed at doing arm toning exercises. Well, maybe obsessed is not the right word. But let’s just say I have been focusing on doing them more during the past few weeks because I have been neglecting them from my previous workouts. Whenever I switch my goals to fat loss and start doing multi-joint movements like squats, lunges, military presses, etc, my arms are usually the last thing I think about in terms of training. To fix this, I do some arm toning exercises after my multi-joint exercises whenever I have time.
Before I move on with the topic at hand, I want to make sure you do not get the idea that simply doing these exercises on their own will help you get rid of your arm fat. You know what I’m talking about: it’s the fat that “jiggles” whenever you wave bye bye. The only solution to losing this area of fat is to lose weight overall. The same goes for belly fat and fat in other stubborn areas of our body. However, these arm exercises will make your arm muscles more visible as you lose weight. The result is a “toned look” for your arms just like you see in celebrities like Jada Pinkett Smith (picture), Jessica Biel, Courteney Cox, and Jennifer Aniston, just to name a few.
The Top 3 Arm Toning Exercises for Sexy Arms
Bicep curls are probably the most common exercise for toning the arms being that they are most prominent (not biggest) muscle of the arms. These are the muscles on the upper, front part of your arm. To perform this exercise, hold a dumbbell or a barbell in both hands with your arms straight and palms facing away from you. Slowly curl your arms towards your chest and slowly lower to starting position. The most common mistake in performing bicep curls is not concentrating on the lowering or negative part of the exercise. To get the maximum benefit from this exercise, do them as I described in this post. If you do not have access to the gym, you may use resistance bands in replacement of dumbbells or barbells.
There are other variations to bicep curls such as hammer curls where your palms are facing each other during the lift. This helps you target a different area of your biceps. You may also squeeze your curl at the top to get more muscle contractions from this exercise.
Deltoid Raises or Lateral Raises
The deltoid muscles are the muscles on the side of your upper arms that are shaped like a triangle (fyi, deltoid is greek for triangle). These muscles are smaller compared to your other arm muscles so you would not need a lot of weight to perform deltoid raises. In addition, because you are lifting the weights away from your body, you are losing leverage which will require lighter weights. Most women can start with 5 lb weights in each hand or the lightest resistance band. Men can start with 10 lb weights or higher depending on strength.
To perform lateral raises, hold a dumbbell or resistance band handles in each hand. If you’re using resistance bands, you will step on the band with one foot to hold the band in place. Start with your arms resting on your sides with palms facing toward your thighs. Lift your arms slowly towards shoulder level or until they are parallel to the ground. Slowly lower down your arms to starting position and repeat. You may also position your palms facing forward during deltoid raises to target a different part of your deltoid.
The triceps are the muscles on the back area of your upper arm behind the biceps. Triceps exercises can be called many different names but all of them require extending the triceps. So, for the purpose of this article, we will call them triceps extensions. The most common way to perform triceps extensions is overhead while standing up or lying down on your back. To start, hold light dumbbells and extend arms overhead with your palms facing each other while standing or lying down. Slowly lower the weights behind your head being careful not to hit your head with the weights. Slowly go back to starting position and repeat.
You can also perform triceps extensions with ropes, cables or bands. For instance, most resistance bands come with a door attachment which you can place close to the top of a door hinge to create some distance between your hands and the other end of the band. Face the door and hold the band handles with palms facing each other. Your arms should make a 90 degree angle at your elbows. Pull down on the bands and lock your elbows to contract your triceps and slowly go back to starting position. This is one repetition. The same action can be done with ropes and cables.
Craig Ballatyne, creator of the popular and effective fat loss workouts, Turbulence Training, actually created a 3-minute Arm workout just for biceps and triceps. Craig designed this to be a short-workout to be done after your regular training. Here is and example:
- To be done with 4 sets of 6 repetitions
- Choose a weight you can normally lift for 8 repetiitions but only perform 6 reps
- Bicep Curls – 6 reps at 1-0-1 tempo (lower 1 second, no pause, return to starting position for 1 second)
- Tricep Extenstion – 6 reps at 1-0-1 tempo
- Craig didn’t include this but you can add Deltoid Raises for 6 reps also at 1-0-1 tempo
- Do not rest in between each exercises. Rest 1 min after all 3 exercises and repeat 3 more times for a total of 4 sets.
The first time you do these arm toning exercises, you may feel a little sore the next day or so. To avoid being to sore to the point that you can’t straighten your arm, make sure you stretch or foam roll the muscles you just trained.