If you want to know how to tone arms, we have the answers you need. Regular exercise is the key to toning, concentrating on moves that not just tone the arms, but exercises which will help you lose fat from the whole body and tone your arms in the process.
Many of us don’t know how to tone the arms - either training them too frequently with the best exercise machines to lose weight, picking up injuries, or concentrating on one particular muscle, and seeing no results. So, how can you work your arms and see fast results? We talked to a fitness expert to discover the science behind how toning up really works.
How to tone arms: what you need to know
Losing weight for any part of your body, specifically, the arms, can’t be done just by focusing on that particular area. Body fat is distributed around the body, so focusing on losing weight in general, with a mixture of a good diet and a variety of exercise is key.
David Wiener, a training specialist at fitness app Freeletics (opens in new tab), told Fit&Well: “A toned body is more about losing body fat to reveal the muscles you’ve built underneath, which is done through both cardio and weight training.”
Weight training, however, will help to increase your metabolism: “A cardio workout burns more calories than weight training, which is perfect for weight and fat loss. But lifting weights is more beneficial to building, maintaining, and toning muscle,” explains the trainer.
“Weight training will also burn calories and increase your basal metabolic rate which is also important for weight loss and improving muscle tone over time. To tone your arms properly, efficiently, and effectively, you will need a healthy mix of both cardio and weights.”
Overtraining a particular muscle, such as those in the arms, will also wear them out - leaving you with aches, pains, and possible injuries.
“Weight or strength training will put a ‘stress’ on your muscles which effectively damages them, causing micro-tears in the muscle fibers which then repair themselves both bigger and stronger, resulting in strength and size over time.
“With weight training, it is important to understand that you do not need to spend hours upon hours exercising, it is more beneficial to do a short 20-30 minute session and really focus on the weight and number of reps to see a significant improvement quickly.”
In order to tone arms fast aim to complete two resistance-based sessions a week, as well as cardio sessions.
How to tone arms fast: Six exercises to try
“Push-ups are a good exercise to tone your arms, requiring stability and strength through the entire arm. When performed properly they tone the arms, shoulders, and core. If you’re a beginner, try doing a push-up on your knees as a starting point,” says Weiner.
He explains: “To do a push-up, get in the starting high plank position with your arms fully extended and with your shoulders, hips, and heels in a straight line. In a controlled movement, lower your body down until your chest touches the floor, keeping your knees and hips off of the ground at all times.
“Your elbows should be close to your body, facing backward to outwards throughout the movement. Then, lift your whole body by “pushing away from the ground” until your arms are completely extended to complete one repetition.”
Weiner explains that side dips are a great way to isolate the tricep muscles.“Start by laying down in a straight line on your right side. Place your left hand on the ground in front of you and push your upper body up off the ground. Your hips and feet should remain touching the ground at all times.
“Lower your body at a controlled pace until your right shoulder touches the ground to complete one repetition. Change sides and complete the same amount of repetitions for your opposite arm.”
Triceps dips primarily target the triceps, but also work the chest and shoulders, activating the upper body as a whole to build strength and size.
Explaining the exercise, Weiner said: “Start by placing your hands shoulder-width apart, behind you on a bench, with your arms straight.
“Engage your core and glutes then move down by bending your elbows until your arms are at an approximate 90-degree angle then push back up powerfully, ensuring you keep your core and glutes tight to prevent your legs swinging. Get as low as you can without stressing your shoulders. Do three sets of eight to ten dips.”
Diamond Push-ups are a great way to isolate the triceps and as Weiner explains also a good exercise to gain ‘power, strength, and muscle tone’.
Weiner explained the exercise to Fit&Well: “Begin in the high plank hold position with your hands placed close enough so that your thumbs and index fingers are touching, forming a diamond shape.
“Then, lower your body to your hands slowly while keeping your elbows tight to the body and explode up, lifting your body off the ground and returning to the Diamond push-up position.”
Pull-ups, says Weiner, are a movement where you pull yourself up over a bar. “The concept is simple, but they are actually a fairly advanced upper body movement. Start by hanging from a bar, suspended by your arms.
“Next, holding your entire body under tension, pull yourself up until your chin is over the bar,” explains Weiner. “Finally, lower yourself down until your arms are almost straight again. Throughout the entire movement, just your upper body is working; your legs hang freely.”
Bicep curls are one of the best arm exercises for developing muscle mass in the biceps. “Increasing volume through total weight and reps helps stimulate adaptation in the muscle groups targeted, leading to muscular growth and development,” explains Weiner.
Start by picking a dumbbell weight you’re happy with, have one in each hand, with your elbows tight to the side of your body and arms facing out. Either alternate or raise both arms, from the elbow upwards, all the way to your shoulders. Slowly bring them down and repeat for up to eight times.
Looking for more workout ideas? Head to our round-up of 7 foam roller exercises to try out.
Sarah is a freelance journalist who writes about fitness and wellbeing for the BBC, Woman&Home and Tech Radar. During lockdown she found her love of running outside again and now attempts to run around 50 miles a month. When it comes to other fitness, she loves a sweaty cardio session – although since she’s been working out from home she’s sure her downstairs neighbors aren’t too happy about it. She also loves to challenge herself - and has signed up to do hiking holidays, intense bootcamps and last year she went on her dream activity holiday: paddle boarding around deserted islands in Croatia. On her rest days, she loves to recover with a simple yoga flow session – the perfect antidote to her active fitness schedule.