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12 of the best arm exercises for women

women stretching

If your arms are something you feel insecure about, don’t worry.

Loads of women struggle to find the confidence to show off their arms, but it doesn’t have to be this way!

And if you’ve tried to love your arms just as they are but you’re not getting anywhere, it might be worth trying some exercises to help rebuild your confidence – and your muscles.

In this article, we’ll discuss

  • How to tone your arms fast
  • How women get super toned arms
  • How to get rid of bat wings
  • 6 arm workouts for women without weights
  • 6 arm exercises for women with weights
  • Best arm weights for women
  • How to get the most out of your workouts

How can I tone my arms fast?

The fastest way to tone your arms is to incorporate two days of arm workouts into your weekly fitness routine and to make sure you’re eating and drinking healthy foods.

As well as doing cardio, adding these resistance training arm exercises to your schedule will help you to build more muscle and lose fat at the same time.1,2

The key to keeping these muscle gains is to up your protein intake – so be sure to have a protein shake or bar after your workout!

In terms of your general diet, try to eat in a balanced manner.

Make sure to include a source of protein, a source of fibre, a source of healthy fats and some unrefined carbs to each meal where you can for a nutritionally rounded diet.3,4,5

How do women get super toned arms?

Ever had arm envy when you’ve stepped in the gym?

Don’t worry, we’ve all been there. But it might have left you wondering about how these women managed to achieve super toned arms…

Unfortunately there’s no definitive answer, but what we can do is turn to science.

One review from 2015 highlighted that traditional weightlifting may be a better option for people doing weight training, who want to lose fat and build muscle mass at the same time.6

Also according to anecdotal evidence, doing arm exercises in isolation (aka sticking to one type of arm exercise per session and then changing it up each time) may be beneficial for getting super toned arms.

How do I get rid of bat wings on my arms?

Bat wings, bingo wings, whatever you want to call them, excess weight in the upper arm area has been the cause of poor self-esteem for many women.

So, if you’ve decided you want to do something about them, toning up the muscle in that area may help you regain some confidence.

If you want to tone your arms to get rid of them, it may be worth using lower weights with more repetitions to get the desired slender look.

We’ve got more on the sorts of exercises you can do with and without weights to help you get the arms you want below.

6 best arm workouts for women without equipment

Read on to discover our top arm workouts which don't require any equipment! 

  1. Side plank

As well as targeting your arms, side planks are great for toning up your abs too!

From your shoulders to your hips, your body will be using a number of core muscles all at once to keep you in that position.

Since this arm workout requires floor work, you might want to grab a yoga mat to provide you with some cushioning.

How to do a side plank

1

Start lying down, then shift your body onto one side with your legs straight and your feet stacked on top of each other.

2

Use the arm closest to the floor to prop your body up, with your hand supporting you directly under your shoulder.

3

Lift the opposing hand so that your other arm is stretching towards the ceiling.

4

Hold this position for 15 to 60 seconds, then repeat on the other side.

Feeling strong enough to do a bit more? Try lifting the top leg as well as your arm for an elevated workout.

  1. Plank tap

We all know that a plank is great for your core, but this is another variation that works your shoulders too! Again you may want to grab an exercise mat for this one.

How to do a plank tap

1

Lie down on your front on your exercise mat.

2

Place your hands on the mat, directly below your shoulders and lift your body up so that only your palms and toes are on the floor.

3

Make sure your head, shoulders and hips are aligned while engaging your core.

4

Next, while in this position, bring one hand up to tap your opposing shoulder before putting it down again.

5

Repeat on both hands for 15-20 reps.

  1. Push ups

Push ups have been a popular exercise for building up your upper body strength and toning your arms.

As well as this though, when done properly, push ups are great for engaging your core and strengthening your lower back!

How to do a push up

1

Start on all fours on your exercise mat.

2

Put your hands a tad wider than your shoulders.

3

Straighten your arms and legs so that only your palms and toes are on the floor.

4

Hinging at your elbows, gently lower your body so that your chest is only a few centimetres from the floor.

5

Hold for a moment, then push your body back up.

6

Aim to repeat 8 times.

  1. Downward dog to plank

If yoga’s your thing, you’ll like this arm exercise.

Combining the downward dog with a plank targets your biceps, triceps, shoulders, core and hamstrings – so you’ll be getting a lot of bang for your buck with this one!

How to do a downward dog to plank

1

Begin on all fours on your yoga mat, with your knees just behind your hips.

2

Press your hands into the mat, tuck your toes and then lift your knees so that your arms and legs are straight.

3

This should leave you in an upside-down V position.

4

Hold for a moment.

5

Then shift your weight forward so that you’re in the plank position, with your shoulders over your hands and your ankles over your toes.

6

Hold for a moment, then shift your weight backwards so that you’re in the downward dog position again.

7

Repeat 8 times.

  1. Tricep dips

Another one of the best tricep workouts for women are tricep dips.

While there are a number of different variations of this move, we’re going to focus on how to do tricep dips on the floor.

How to do tricep dips

1

Sit on your mat with your knees slightly bent and the soles of your feet on the floor.

2

Place your palms down, with your fingers pointing in the same direction as your toes, directly in line with your shoulders.

3

Lift so your bottom is off the floor, your arms are fully extended and your knees are bent, with your feet still planted on the floor.

4

Then slowly bend your elbows, lowering your body so it hovers just over the floor.

5

Hold for a moment, then push back up into the starting position.

6

Repeat 10 times.

  1. Superman extension

As well as lengthening your arms, superman extensions are great for working your core and your lower back.

While it may not look like you’re doing much, this is the kind of exercise that you can get better at with practice.

How to do a superman extension

1

Begin lying on your front on your exercise mat.

2

Keep your legs straight and stretch out your arms in front of you.

3

While looking down, gently lift your legs and your arms so they’re off the ground, until you can feel your lower back contracting.

4

Contract your abdominal muscles and hold for 2-3 seconds, then release so you’re back to the starting position.

5

Repeat 10 times.

6 best arm exercises for women with weights

Read on for our top arm exercises for women that have access to weights! 

  1. Bicep curls

If you’ve got access to dumbbells, bicep curls are a classic arm exercise for women to help you tone up. 

How to do a bicep curl

1

Either sitting on a bench or standing, hold a dumbbell in each hand at your sides with your palms facing forward.

2

Lift the dumbbells towards your shoulders, keeping your upper arms straight and at your sides, only hinging at the elbows.

3

Pause once there’s a small gap between your shoulders and the dumbbells, then slowly lower to the starting position.

4

Repeat 10 times.

  1. Dumbbell shoulder press

Another great tricep workout for women is the dumbbell shoulder press.

How to do a dumbbell shoulder press

1

Stand holding a dumbbell in each hand.

2

Lift the dumbbells so they’re the same height as your ears, with your elbows bent at a 90-degree angle and your palms facing forward.

3

Lift your arms even further so that they’re fully stretched towards the ceiling, then return to the starting position.

4

Repeat 10 times.

  1. Overhead tricep extension

Similarly, overhead tricep extensions are another arm exercise for women to target the backs of your arms.

How to do an overhead tricep extension

1

Start standing up with your feet at hip-width distance apart, holding one dumbbell.

2

Holding onto it with both hands, extend your arms so that the dumbbell is directly over your head.

3

Next, gently lower the dumbbell behind your head, hinging at your elbows.

4

When your arms are almost at a 90-degree angle, (with your elbows pointing towards the ceiling) pause before going back to the starting position.

5

Repeat 10 times.

  1. Upright row

There are a lot of different variations of the upright row, but we’re talking about the kind that uses dumbbells.

How to do an upright row

1

Start standing with a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing your legs and your arms as close to your body as possible.

2

Slowly lift both hands until the dumbbells are at chest height, with your elbows pointing outwards.

3

Pause for a moment, then return back to the starting position.

4

Repeat 10 times.

  1. Rainbow slam

Feeling pent up after a difficult day? This arm exercise is great for releasing some frustration. Make sure you’ve got a medicine ball and plenty of space before trying this one though.

How to do a rainbow slam

1

Begin standing up, with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding a medicine ball above your head.

2

Twist your body so you’re facing the right, with your knees in a lunging position and your back heel slightly lifted off the ground.

3

When you’re in this position, slam the ball onto the floor and then bend down to retrieve it.

4

Return back to the starting position and then do the same on the left side.

5

Repeat 8 times.

  1. Kettlebell swing

And last up in our list of the best arm exercises with weights for women, is the good old kettlebell swing.

Not only does this workout target your arms, but it also works your abs, pecs, shoulders, hips and hamstrings – so you can see why it’s a popular one!

How to do a kettlebell swing

1

Start standing up with your feet shoulder-width apart and the kettlebell placed in front of you, between your feet.

2

Bend your knees slightly and hinge at your hips to grab the kettlebell.

3

Swing it backwards through your legs to create some momentum.

4

Then as the kettlebell swings forwards, straighten your back and pull your hips forward as you lift the kettlebell to shoulder height.

5

Once it swings back to starting position, repeat 15 times.

Best arm weights for women

Want to give some of these arm exercises with weights for women a go? You’ll have to make sure you have the right equipment first. Here’s what to go for:

  • Two dumbbells lower than 5kg in weight.
  • Two dumbbells that are 5kg in weight.
  • A kettlebell between 5kg and 10kg.
  • A medicine ball that is 2kg in weight.

How to get the most out of your arm workouts

So you’re ready to start using some of these arm exercises, but what else can you do to ensure you’re getting the most out of them?

It goes without saying that nutrition is a big factor in your body appearance, so be sure to eat a healthy, balanced diet with plenty of protein to repair your muscles.

While it might sound counterproductive, you need to rest to in order to make progress with your workouts.

Without rest, there’s a risk that you may end up with an overuse injury, affecting your progress in the long run.

And finally, you’ve got to stay hydrated. Water is essential for helping your body to recover from exercise, especially since your joints need it to protect themselves.

The final say

Feeling pumped up and ready to start working your muscles?

If you’re feeling unsure on how to do any of these arm exercises for women, just remember to refer back to this article to get you on the right track.

Or if you’re in the gym, don’t be afraid to ask a member of staff to help – it’s what they’re there for!

The advice in this article is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please check with your GP or healthcare professional before trying any supplements, treatments or remedies. Food supplements must not be used as a substitute for a varied and balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle.

Last updated: 16 November 2021

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