Using light weights for arm exercises builds endurance, while using heavier weights builds muscle strength.
If you’re looking to strengthen your upper body, don’t neglect your arms! Strengthening arm muscles can help you carry luggage more easily, throw a soccer ball, or swing a tennis racket, while promoting long-term bone health.

What muscles make up the arms?

The arms consist of three main parts, namely the anterior part (front), the posterior part (back) and the shoulders. You need to make sure that you train all three parts.

In the front are the biceps brachii (also called biceps), brachialis muscle, and coracobrachialis muscle. The back of the arm contains the triceps brachii (or triceps). The deltoid muscle is found at the top of the shoulder. And it is at the back of the shoulder that we find the rotator cuff, which is made up of four small muscles: the supraspinatus, the infraspinatus, the teres minor and the subscapularis.

Each of these muscles plays a unique and important role in helping our arms move in all the ways we use them throughout the day. Any pushing, pulling, extending or swinging movement of the arms requires a different set of muscles, and training these muscles can help you do everything from carrying a shopping bag, picking up your dog, holding a plank pose in yoga, or opening a heavy door. By training all upper body muscle groups, you will increase range of motion, which will aid in injury prevention.

Your arm muscles also help support your wrists and elbows. Stronger arms help prevent the increased stress and strain on joints from everyday tasks (like scrolling through your cell phone or chopping vegetables).

How to get the most out of your arm strength training?

Aim to dedicate at least two to three non-consecutive days per week to full-body strength training, including the arms. You will also need to determine the number of sets and reps to perform. For general muscle strength, whatever part of the body you’re training, try 2-3 sets of 8-12 reps per workout, but you can fine-tune more, depending on your goals.

For example, using lighter weights and performing more reps and sets will help you build muscular endurance, which is the length of time you can exercise a muscle without tire you out. Conversely, if you want to build muscle strength, you will need to increase the weight and decrease the number of reps.

Here are a few other things to keep in mind whenever doing upper body exercises:

Avoid locking your elbows. Locking your elbows creates a chain reaction in your body, causing other joints (including wrists and shoulders) to be locked as well. You risk damaging the ligaments, tendons and possibly even the cartilage of the joint. Any arm exercise requires the full range of motion to work the muscles to their maximum potential.

Check your posture. When you’re tired, your posture can start to suffer. Forward slouching causes internal shoulder rotation, which can lead to rotator cuff issues. If you try to lift weights in this position, you may exacerbate these problems.

Don’t be afraid to choose a lower weight. Don’t add too much weight too quickly. A general rule for choosing a weight? Choose a weight that you can lift while maintaining proper form, but that is heavy enough to challenge yourself. If you arch your back to complete a curl, hold your breath, or have to stand on your tiptoes to complete the exercise, try moving to a lighter weight.

The best exercises to strengthen the arms

Are you ready to get your arms in shape? Below are nine exercises offered by Froerer, along with an example workout that incorporates them all.

1 Bicep curl

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, hold a weight in each hand. Starting with the weights at thigh level, palms facing forward and elbows glued to the hips, lift the weights toward the shoulders. Return to the starting point; it is a repetition. Repeat.

2 Hammer curls

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, arms hanging at your sides, hold a weight in each hand. Keeping palms facing inward and elbows tucked into body, raise dumbbells up to shoulders. Go back to the starting point to perform one repetition and start again.

3 Wide bending

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, arms hanging at your sides, hold a weight in each hand. Place your palms away from your body so they face the corners of the room. Keeping your elbows tucked into your body, raise the dumbbells toward your shoulders. Go back to the starting point to perform one repetition and start again.

4 Reverse Triceps Extension

Stand with your feet hip-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand and arms hanging by your sides. Palms should face inward. Starting at the hip and with your knees slightly bent, lean your torso forward until your body forms an angle of about 45 degrees with the floor. Keeping your arms at your sides and your elbows at your sides, extend your forearms behind you until they’re parallel to the floor, then release them to start one rep again. Repeat the exercise.

5 Overhead Triceps Extension

Stand with your feet hip-width apart, with a dumbbell in each hand. Raise the dumbbells above your head until your arms are straight, being careful not to lock your elbows. Palms should face each other. (If this is too difficult, use a single dumbbell, starting by holding the dumbbell in both hands in front of your body and lifting it above your head with both hands). Keeping your elbows and upper arms in place, slowly lower your forearms so the dumbbells drop slightly behind your head. Hold the dumbbells overhead for one rep and repeat.

6 Tricep curls

Sit on a stable chair or bench with your hands gripped on the seat, shoulder-width apart and fingers facing forward. Extend your legs out in front of you, placing your feet flat on the floor so that your knees are at a 90 degree angle (with the knees above the ankles). Slide your butt off the chair or bench so that only your hands and feet are supporting you, and extend your arms almost straight. Bend your elbows and, while keeping your back close to the chair or bench, slowly lower your body toward the floor until your elbows form an angle of about 90 degrees. Press down on the chair or bench and return to the starting point to do one rep and repeat.

7 Shoulder press

Stand with your feet hip-width apart, dumbbells in each hand, arms along your body. Raise the dumbbells to just above the shoulders, palms facing forward, and elbows bent about 90 degrees. From this starting position, extend your elbows and push the dumbbells overhead. Go back to the starting point to perform one repetition and start again.

8 Front/side upstands

Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, arms in front of your body at thigh level and palms facing your body. Keeping elbows slightly bent and palms down, lift the dumbbells in front of your body to shoulder height. Hold this position for a second, then move your arms out to the sides so they’re slightly below your shoulders. Release the arms out to the side and repeat the exercise, this time reversing the motion so that you first raise the arms straight out to the side and then bring them back so they are straight in front of you, and finally bring them down in front of your thighs. It is a repetition.

9 Rear glider

Stand with your feet hip-width apart, a dumbbell in each hand. Bend the knees and rock forward from the hips, extending the arms downward, wrists under the shoulders, hands facing each other. Keeping your back flat, raise your arms out to the sides, hands facing the floor. As you do this, squeeze your shoulder blades together. Keeping the torso articulated, release the arms back to the starting position for one rep and repeat.

* criptom strives to transmit health knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE, the information given can not replace the opinion of a health professional.