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Exercises to Get Your Arms in Great Shape

Updated on June 12, 2013


To get your arms in shape you should target your biceps, triceps and body fat. You should also target the muscles on the forearm. The bicep muscles are on the front of the lower arm. The tricep muscles are on the back of the lower arm. The lower arm goes from your shoulder to your elbow. The upper arm or forearm goes from the elbow to your wrist. You use your forearm muscles when you move your wrist, fingers or thumb.

Pull with your arms to work your biceps and push with your arms to work your triceps. Weightlifting works best for working out the biceps and triceps. You can use weights, your own bodyweight or resistance bands. To reduce body fat I recommend adding intense cardio exercises to your workout routine. I like to be lean and muscular. However some people want fat on their arms so their arms look bigger. You can skip the cardio if you don't want to become leaner.

Me doing push-ups with a heavy backpack.
Me doing push-ups with a heavy backpack.

Push Ups And Chin Ups

If you include push ups and chin ups in your workout routine then you don't really need any other exercises to get your lower arms in great shape. Normal push ups may not be enough to get you the results you want but there are lots of ways to do push ups. You can build bigger tricep muscles with push ups by doing more difficult push up variations.

The standard chin ups are difficult enough for most people but you can easily make them more difficult by wearing a weight belt, wearing a heavy backpack or using one arm at a time. Some people have trouble doing push ups and chin ups. You can make the exercises easier at first and then make them more difficult when you are ready. To build muscle you need to improve by increasing your strength or endurance. That means you should keep making changes to your workout routine. Keep making it more difficult until you have the results you want.

Doing dumbbell curls.
Doing dumbbell curls. | Source

Dumbbell Curls

Curling a dumbbell can be the best way to workout your biceps. Light dumbbells don't work very well for building muscle. It should be heavy enough that you can not lift it more than 12 times in a row. As you become stronger you should increase the weight of the dumbbell or switch to a heavier one. You may need to go out and buy some heavier weights or go to a gym.

Shadow Boxing And Jumping Rope

Shadow boxing and jumping rope are cardio exercises that go well with weight lifting and bodyweight exercises. You could add them to your workout routine to lose fat and improve your cardiovascular endurance. They work your upper, middle and lower body. Just keep in mind that getting rid of fat could make your arms look less muscular. I also recommend Tae Bo. It is a kickboxing cardio exercise.

Boxer | Source

If you have one you can punch a bunching bag. I have an air filled punching bag I got at Walmart with some Tae Bo DVDs. You don't need a heavy punching bag to punch with power. With a light punching bag you just need to use more control. You punch hard but stop yourself when you hit the target.

While working out I can move the weights out of the way and start shadow boxing or jumping rope. They key to get a good workout with shadow boxing or jumping rope is to make it a high intensity workout. Punch with power even if you are not hitting anything and jump rope at a really fast pace. These exercise can tire me out quickly and cause me to sweat a lot if I keep the intensity up.

Forearm Exercises

Reverse curls: Do a barbell or dumbbell curl with an overhand grip. Palms face down. The reversed grip makes a big difference. It works your forearms more than underhand curls. So it works your biceps less.

Front raises: Stand with feet shoulder width apart holding dumbbells or a barbell by your legs. Use an overhand grip. Bring your arms up just past your shoulders. Your elbows should be slightly bent. The movement should be slow. Form is important. Switch to a lighter weight if you have trouble. This exercise can also be done while seated.

Hammer curls: Hold a pair of dumbbells at your sides close to your legs with your palms facing you. Raise the dumbbell until your forearms are vertical. Then go back down for one repetition.

Farmer's walk: Lower yourself by bending your legs. Grab something short and heavy like a heavy pair of dumbbells. Lift up with your legs while keeping your back straight. The weights should be hanging at your sides. Quickly walk forward taking short steps.

Finger push ups: Do push ups on your fingertips. Before you try doing the standard finger push ups try some easier versions. Get comfortable with doing them on your knees so you are not lifting very much of your bodyweight. Then do incline fingertip push ups. A set of stairs works well. If you want to increase the difficulty you can do them flat on the floor.

Wrist curls: While holding a weight curl your wrist until it goes from horizontal to vertical. Then straighten it. Use a lighter weight than you would curl doing regular dumbbell curls.

Hand exercise.
Hand exercise.

Squeeze: Hold something in your hand. Then squeeze as hard as you can for as long as you can. Alternatively you could do reps. Squeeze, hold it for 5 seconds and then release for one repetition.

Hang: Grab on to a bar or branch and lift your feet off the ground so you are supporting your bodyweight. Hang on for 30 seconds or more using an underhand grip.

Exercises like pull ups, push ups and dumbbell curls work the forearm muscles but you may want to do exercises that focus on the forearms to maintain more of a balance. After doing a lot of push ups and dumbbell curls as well as some pull ups my forearm muscles are small and weak compared to the muscles on my lower arm. So I recently started doing exercises that focus on forearms.

Muscle Fatigue

When you are working out your triceps, biceps or forearms with the intention of building muscle you should quickly experience muscle fatigue. You should also tire out fairly quickly when jumping rope or shadow boxing. Do an exercise for a short time and then switch to another so the workouts can last a little longer.


If you just go through the motions you will make little or no progress. Focus on improving and it should not take very long to get your arms in great shape. I noticed I was getting stronger in less than a week. In two weeks my arm muscles were bigger. I don't know how long it will take for you to get the results you want but you should be able to make a significant amount of progress each week. It did not take long for be to get my arms in great shape once I focused on improving my arm strength and endurance.


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