5 Arm Workouts To Improve Upper Body Strength, According To Personal Trainers
Sports & Activity
Personal trainers say these are the best arm workouts to do for injury prevention and for a noticeable boost in strength.
Arm workouts offer a range of benefits: from making daily activities simpler to targeting the muscles in your upper body for improved posture.
"Arm workouts assist in increasing your metabolic rate, which can lead to a decrease in body fat when coupled with a proper nutrition regimen," said NASM-certified personal trainer and performance coach Keith Hodges, founder of Mind in Muscle Coaching in Los Angeles.
Not to mention, strengthening your arms may also play a pivotal role in injury prevention. "Your upper body strength training routine will improve the strength of your muscles and bones," said ACE-certified personal trainer, Stephanie Thomas. "If you experience a fall, you might be at less risk of a more significant injury due to the fall."
Below, Hodges and Thomas identify five moves that they think may qualify as the best arm workouts to try. These exercises target different areas of the arms, including the biceps (front of the arms), triceps (back of the arms), and forearms, as well as other key upper body muscles such as the chest and shoulders.
5 Trainer-approved Arm Workouts
The classic bicep curl tops the list of the best arm workouts — and for good reason. Hodges said this move helps build strength and mass in the biceps.
Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart. "Make sure your shoulders are relaxed, and your elbows stay close to your ribs as you are holding a pair of dumbbells or a barbell," he said. "Exhale as you curl the weight toward your shoulders, and remember to contract the biceps for peak contraction. Inhale as you lower the barbell or dumbbells back to the starting position."
Hodges recommended that you keep your core engaged the entire time and start with weights that aren't too heavy to ensure you can perform the movement correctly.
2.Supine Chest Fly
To target the biceps (front of the upper arm), upper chest, and front of the shoulders, Thomas recommended adding the supine chest fly exercise to your arm workout rotation.
Roll out a yoga mat or gym mat and lie down with your back flat on the mat. Bend your knees and place your feet flat on the ground. You'll need two dumbbells, one in each hand. Hold the dumbbells above your chest, palms facing each other.
Then, "begin to lower the dumbbells towards the ground in an arc motion until they're in line with your chest," Thomas said. "Slowly lift back both arms until they're back in the beginning position with palms facing each other over the chest."
Dips are another great workout for your arms because they help build strength and mass in the triceps, Hodges said. You can do this exercise on a dip bar, bench, chair, or an assisted dip machine.
For proper form, try "keeping the core engaged, inhale as you lower your body, bending the elbows 45 to 90 degrees," Hodges said. "Exhale as you press yourself up, returning back to the starting position."
If you're doing your dips on a bench or chair, Hodges said to keep your arms shoulder-width apart and palms flat on the bench or chair with your fingers facing forward.
If you're performing a dip on a dip bar or an assisted machine, your arms are still shoulder-width apart, but your palms should face your sides.
Either way, be mindful of maintaining proper shoulder alignment throughout the exercise to avoid damaging the muscles and tendons in your shoulder known as the rotator cuff.
This move spotlights the muscles that make up your shoulders including the deltoids (aka the main shoulder muscle) and trapezius (upper back) muscles. According to Thomas, the upright row is both a simple and effective way to increase strength and enhance definition in this area.
“Working these muscles help shape the shoulder area and create the look of a strong, sculpted upper body,” she said. “The strength you build in these muscles makes pulling and lifting movements easier in everyday life.
To perform this exercise, start by standing (hence the name) with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand. Face your palms toward your thighs, Thomas said. Then, slowly lift the dumbbells upwards while making sure the dumbbells stay close to your body, she said. Once your elbows reach chest height, slowly lower the weights back to the starting position.
5.Wrist Forearm Curls
If you have smaller forearms, Hodges suggested adding wrist forearm curls to the mix to help build mass and improve grip strength. “The forearms play a major role in every lift or resistance training exercise we do," he said. "This exercise is key because the stronger your grip strength becomes, you can move heavier loads and work for longer times of tension."
In other words, having strong forearms is vital for performing other exercises, especially ones that target other areas of the arm such as the biceps.
You can choose to do this arm workout sitting or kneeling, and decide whether you want to focus on one arm at a time or do both simultaneously.
"Sit and hold one or a pair of dumbbells in your hands with your palms facing up," Hodges said. "Allow your arm to rest on your leg to isolate your forearm during the movement." If you're kneeling, rest your forearm on a bench. "Exhale as you curl your wrists(s) toward your body. Squeeze and inhale as you lower the dumbbell to the starting position."
Words by Jessica Estrada