You want muscular arms. You’re not alone, and a lot of effort has been dedicated to helping you and others set a course to achieving your goals. Like all other things fitness-related, it requires dedication, perseverance, and discipline — you’re not going to sprout massive biceps and triceps overnight. And it’s definitely not going to be easy.
But if you’ve been living with flabby arms, or are simply sick of being shoulder-checked in the elevator, there are a number of steps you can take to add some girth, put on some muscle, and get in shape.
First and foremost, you’ll want to fix your eating and sleeping habits. You’re not going to build any muscle at all without a bedrock foundation of healthy habits. So, start eating the correct foods — those chock-full of muscle-building nutrients — and getting to bed on time. Next? You’ll want to plan a workout regimen.
Truth be told, it only takes a few relatively simple lifts — and as mentioned, a bit of perseverance — to achieve arms just like those of your favorite celebrities and fitness buffs. While you should be aiming for full-body workouts over the course of a week, if you want to really target your arms and transform them from being wispy and weak, these are the lifts and exercises that will help you get there.
1. Shoulder press
The shoulder press is one of the most common lifts out there, and one that will help really define your chest, arms, and even back. It’s similar to a pull-up, with the notable exception that you’re pushing the weight away from you, rather than pulling it in.
The lift itself is simple: Stand up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand. Next, bend your elbows to bring your hands to shoulder level, palms facing forward. Push up, extending the weights straight overhead while keeping shoulders down. Once you’ve fully extended, slowly lower the weights back to the shoulder.
2. Get-up plank
If you haven’t been planking, it’s high time you start. There are numerous variants that you can try, and each set will help you build more muscle.
One such variant, the get-up plank, is a great move for working your back and shoulder muscles. Start out in a modified side-plank position — one leg over the other with knees bent. Hold a small kettlebell or dumbbell in your right hand, and keep your right elbow bent so the weight is resting on your forearm. Lift your hips so that your body is a straight line from knees to shoulders. Next, extend the kettlebell up to the ceiling, then slowly lower it back to starting position. Do a few reps, then switch to the other side.
3. Bicep curl with alternating lunge
This bicep curl exercise incorporates a lunge to achieve an effective lower body workout in addition to toning your arms. Begin standing with your knees slightly bent, and hold a light dumbbell in each hand. Beginning with your right leg, step forward and lower into a lunge position, maintaining a 90-degree angle at your knee. At the same time, curl your left hand toward your chest to work your bicep. Alternate arm and leg extensions, completing your targeted rep amount.
You’re essentially doing lunges and curls at the same time. And after a set, you’ll definitely feel it.
4. Sit-up pullover
It’s a new take on a classic exercise — and a great all-over conditioning move that will help give your triceps and deltoids some definition. Start by lying face-up on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat. Extend arms overhead with a light dumbbell in each hand, then slowly curl up and forward by contracting your abs.
While you are sitting up, bring your arms forward in an arcing motion toward your knees. Once they reach your knees, hold the position for a moment, then reverse slowly to your starting position. It’s pretty simple; just a standard sit-up, with a curl blended in.
5. Overhead tricep extension
The overhead tricep extension is a pretty common exercise — particularly among those looking to beef up their arms and shoulders. Here’s what to do: Hold a dumbbell in each hand (experiment with weights until you’re comfortable) and begin with your arms extended overhead. Then bend your arms at the elbows so that the dumbbells are dropped slightly behind your head.
Slowly re-extend your arms above your head. Since you are working both arms simultaneously, you’ll immediately feel the effects of this move. Continue the process until you fulfill your repetitions and set goals. You can also do this exercise (often associated with another lift, the French press) with cables.