Best workouts for arms: How to use body weight, resistance bands, weights and more

The best workouts for arms to build muscle or tone up biceps and triceps – these exercises can be done anywhere

Best workouts for arms
(Image credit: Andrea Piacquadio/Pexels)

There is a gender divide when it comes to the best workouts for arms. For women, arms often get put to the bottom of the list with 'legs, bums and tums,' and abs workouts taking the glory. A lot of men, by contrast are obsessed with finding the best arms exercises.

The truth is that if you work your arms, whoever you are, they will thank you. When we talk about the best workouts for arms, you’re activating your biceps and triceps, the two main muscles in the upper area. The biceps are at the front and the triceps at the rear – and these two work in opposite ways so they need their own specific exercises. Here are the best workouts for arms that you can do anywhere.

How to perform the best workouts for arms

Best workouts for arms

(Image credit: Kelsey Knight/Unsplash)

Arm circles

These are a great warm-up for your arm day workout. They’re a good dynamic stretch that works the shoulders and upper back as well as your arms. Although they seem like a small movement, you’ll certainly feel them.

Technique tips:

Feet should be shoulder width apart.

Keep your arms strong and wide and your hands down.

Start with one minute forwards and then go on to another minute backwards, without a rest in between.

Punches

Boxing is great for cardio and toning your arms. Use punches as a warm up and add a simple squat to get your heart rate up.

Technique tips:

Keep your guard up: your hands should return to protect your face when you’re not using them.

Engage your core to give yourself stability.

Tricep dips

If you’re in the gym, you’d probably be using a step but if you want to try tricep dips at home there are lots of ways you can improvise with equipment. If your stairs are quite deep, use the bottom step or the edge of a low bed or a sofa works just as well.

These will work the backs of your arms.

Technique tips:

You can adjust your level by moving your feet into different positions. Beginners can try it with legs bent, not too far away from the bench. The ultimate aim is to have your legs out straight and you can build up to this.

Your bottom must remain near the bench at all times – don’t be tempted to pull it forward.

Elbows are pointing backwards as you come down.

It’s just your arms that should be moving – keep the rest of your body steady.

Squeeze your triceps – the back of your arms – as you come up.

Bicep curl

The best workouts for arms cover both bicep and tricep, so get your curl on. It also works your forearms.

Technique tips:

Start with a small weight – 3kgs will help you.

Squeeze and exhale on the way up – that’s the part when you’re working harder.

Your movement should be slow and control, especially on the way down when you might be tempted to go faster.

Elbows should be stuck by your sides at all times.

Don’t have weights? Try it with a resistance band instead, like so… 

Walkout planks

This is a tough but effective way to give you a full body workout because it works your core as well as your arms, with your triceps and deltoids feeling the burn.

Technique tips:

Start with ten repetitions if you’re a beginner.

Add a jump at the top to turn it into a cardio move.

To work your arms harder, add in a push-up when you’re down in your plank.

Press-ups

Yes, the lockdown favourite. Develop your press-up and not only will you work the arms, but you’ll build upper body strength and also use your core to help you stabilise.

Technique tips:

If you can’t do a press-up, the traditional way to modify is to try it on your knees. But an alternative way to build strength is to start at the lowest point and push up from the floor.

If your upper body strength is failing you, practise your technique up agains the wall or on an incline.

Squeeze your abs and glutes on the way up.

Slow and controlled is the way to go until you’re really strong.

Plank row

If you’re confident in your strength, the plank row will give you an extra challenge.

Technique tips:

Start with a 3kg weight until you build your strength and perfect your technique, then add more.

Keep your legs wider than your hips to improve your stability.

Make sure you’ve got your plank right and activate your core and glutes before you start to move.

This is difficult, so start with ten repetitions on each side.

Forearm plank

The perfect finish to your workout – do it properly and it’s one of the best workouts for arms, core, glutes and shoulders.

Technique tips:

Stack your shoulders over your elbows and keep the back of your neck long, so look down at your hands.

Your back should be straight and strong, with your core engaged.

Start with a 30-second hold and then build up to a minute.