6 Arm Exercises You Can Do At Home

There is nothing like having defined and toned arms to show the world you are looking after your body. Tight clothing, T-shirts and camisoles all show off these important muscles, so it’s essential that they are looking good.

What’s more, working out our arm muscles makes everyday life easier. Everything from opening a jar of pickles and washing the car, through to picking up your kids, requires strong arms. The great thing is, you can improve your arm condition at home, without going to the gym.

This article provides an intense workout that does not require any specialized equipment. Follow it through and you will be bursting to put on your summer clothing to display those impressive arms.

The Arm Muscles

In total, there are over 20 muscles in the arm, the majority being in the forearm. This is why the arm is so flexible and has an incredible range of movement.

However, when working out, there are four main muscles that we are concerned with:

Biceps Brachii

Often referred to simply as the biceps. They are located on the upper arm and allow the forearm to be ‘curled’ to the shoulder.

Brachialis

Found beneath the bicep, working out the brachialis enhances the appearance of the bicep.

Triceps Brachii

Often referred to as just ‘triceps’, they are on the underside of the arm and enable the forearm to extend. Underdeveloped triceps leads to a ‘chicken wing’ appearance.

Brachioradialis

Found in the forearms, the brachioradialis allow the arm to move at the elbow and increase gripping strength.

The exercises in this home arm workout will strengthen all of these muscles. They will ensure your arms are perfectly proportioned.

How to Complete Arm Workouts?

When I talk to people about arm workouts, there is always one thing I try to stress. However tempting, do not overdo it at first, especially if you are new or returning to an exercise regime.

Naturally this should apply to every workout, but for me it’s specifically relevant to the arms. I recall a few years ago pushing myself stupidly hard on bicep curls as I was unhappy with their condition. Two days later, I was unable to type on the laptop.

As the arms are involved in so many daily tasks, you don’t want them punishing you after exercise. True, some feeling of soreness or stiffness is expected and, in fact, desired. It means that the muscles are rebuilding and returning stronger and larger.

Follow the repetitions and sets in this workout and you will be fine. Increase repetitions by one or two (or as indicated in individual exercises) in each new session. Slowly build up as your strength and condition increases. And always do a warm-up and cool-down.

This arm workout will increase tone, strength and muscle size. However, if you are after larger muscle gains, I have indicated on specific exercises where weights can be used to increase resistance. These do not have to be store bought, many household items can be used as alternatives.

At Home Arm Workout

Complete this workout in one session for intense arm training. In total it will take around one hour (which includes rest periods). Do not do this workout on consecutive days—always have a minimum two-day break in between. Ideally, you should complete this regime twice a week.

If you want a complete body program instead of just the arms, choose one exercise from this workout. Then, combine with other muscle specific exercises from this site. For me, the best all-round arm exercise to choose would be the wide push-ups.

Arm Circles

This exercise works every single muscle in the arm. What’s more, it can function as a warm-up and cool-down exercise. It is not too taxing and gets the blood flowing to the arm muscles.

  1. Start from a standing position, legs wide apart.
  2. Raise your arms by your sides so that they are horizontal, your palms should be flat and facing forwards. You should appear like an airplane.
  3. Your arms should be locked and remain so throughout the duration of this exercise. Look straight ahead.
  4. This is the starting position.
  5. Commence the exercise by creating forward circles in the air with your outstretched arms. The circles should be around 12-14 inches in diameter at the hands.
  6. No other part of your body should move.
  7. Complete 12 forward circles, breathing gently in and out throughout.
  8. Reverse the action, to complete 12 circles in a backwards direction.
  9. That completes one set.
  10. Rest for three minutes, then do two more sets with a rest period to break it up.

If you wish, you can add some weights to increase difficulty. These do not have to be dumbbells. Bags of sugar, food cans or water bottles can work just as well.

Triceps Dips

A really powerful exercise for the triceps that can help to alleviate those unwanted ‘chicken-wing’ arms.

  1. Sit on the edge of a bench or chair.
  2. Place your hands onto the edge of the chair, either side of your waist.
  3. Extend and lock your legs fully in front of your body, heels of the feet touching the floor.
  4. Gradually ‘inch’ your way forward on your buttocks until they are off the seat.
  5. Lock your arms.
  6. This is your starting position.
  7. Inhale and begin to bend elbows, slowly lowering your body towards the ground.
  8. Once your elbows are at 90 degrees, stop and hold for one second.
  9. Exhale and push back through your triceps to raise your body again until arms are back in the starting position.
  10. That is one repetition.
  11. Complete three sets of 12 repetitions, with a three minute break between each.

While doing this exercise, ensure that your shoulders remain down, and not move up towards your ears. This ruins the efficacy of the exercise.

If you do not have a chair available, this exercise can still be completed with palms on the floor behind you. However, this does restrict movement a little and does not work the triceps as hard.

Plank-Taps

The plank-tap works the biceps, brachialis, triceps and brachioradialis muscles. In addition, it also helps to strengthen your core.

  1. Lay face down on the floor, legs fully extended and tight together.
  2. Lift your upper body upwards and support yourself on locked arms. Palms should be facing down beneath your shoulders, fingers facing forwards.
  3. Ensure that your back and legs form one straight line from your shoulders down to your feet. Do not bend at the waist.
  4. You should now be supported on just your hands and toes.
  5. Look at the floor about three feet ahead.
  6. This is your starting position.
  7. Raise your right arm, tap the left shoulder and replace back to the starting position. This should be done in one swift fluid movement.
  8. Do exactly the same with the left arm and right shoulder.
  9. That completes one repetition.
  10. Continue until 12 repetitions have been done. Break for three minutes.
  11. Do a further two sets, with a three minute rest period between both.

This is an exercise which does require a little balance to perform correctly. But stick with it, as the coordination will soon come.

Wide Push-Ups

This is a variation on the standard push-up. By having the hands further than shoulder width apart, it gives the biceps and triceps a hard workout. The standard push-up concentrates more on the pectoral muscles.

  1. Lay face down on the floor.
  2. Extend legs behind you, hip width apart.
  3. Place palms flat on the floor, around 4–5 inches wider than each shoulder.
  4. Raise your torso onto locked arms.
  5. The only points of contact with the floor should now be toes and palms.
  6. Look at the ground two to three feet ahead.
  7. Ensure back and legs are in a perfectly straight line.
  8. This is your starting position.
  9. Breathe in and slowly lower yourself downwards by bending the arms at the elbows. Once the arms are at a 90 degree angle, stop.
  10. Breathe out and raise yourself back to the starting position by pushing through your arms. Once arms are locked, hold for one second.
  11. That is one complete repetition.
  12. Try to do 12 repetitions. Then do two more sets of 12. Always have a three minute break.

You may find that 12 repetitions is too many, as this is harder than the standard push-up. If so, complete the exercise until fatigue sets in, and that is your repetition limit. In every session, try to increase by one further rep.

Forearm Ball Squeeze

Sadly the forearms are often neglected, with people concentrating on the biceps and triceps. However, out of all the arm muscles, the brachioradialis is most often visible. What’s more, working out this muscle improves hand and wrist strength and leads to nicely proportioned arms.

This exercise is ideally completed with a soft rubber ball. But you can use anything that uses resistance. A tennis ball, small cuddly toy, or small towel are all ideal.

  1. Start the exercise by holding the ball in your right hand.
  2. Sit, and rest your forearm on you right thigh, palm facing upwards.
  3. Slowly squeeze the ball until it cannot be compressed anymore.
  4. Gently release the ball, controlling its expansion with your hand. Do not allow it to just ‘spring back’, as this cuts the efficacy of the exercise.
  5. That completes one repetition.
  6. Continue until 12 reps with your right hand have been completed.
  7. Do exactly the same with your left hand on your left thigh.
  8. That is one complete set. Rest for three minutes.
  9. Do two more sets with a break in between.

Don’t try to overdo this exercise, even if after all the sets you feel ‘strong’. If the forearms are unused to exercise, within 24–48 hours you will feel some tightness in the arms. This can be awkward if you use your hands for work, such as using a laptop. Instead, gradually increase by one repetition in each session.

Bicep Curls

This exercise is perfect for targeting the biceps and is preferably completed with dumbbells. However, as mentioned earlier, there are many things around the home you can use: bags of rice, water or detergent bottles with handles.

  1. Sit on the edge of a bench or chair. Your knees should be slightly wider apart than your hips.
  2. Grasp the dumbbell (or other resistance weight) in your right hand.
  3. Place your right elbow in the middle of your right thigh.
  4. Your palm should be facing upwards.
  5. Place your left hand palm down on your left thigh, elbow pointing outwards. This helps create stability throughout the exercise.
  6. This is your starting position.
  7. Breathe out and slowly raise the dumbbell to your right shoulder.
  8. Hold for one second.
  9. Breathe in and lower the dumbbell controlling its descent with your bicep. Do not let it fall.
  10. You will now be back in the starting position.
  11. That completes one repetition.
  12. Do 12 repetitions, then complete again with your left hand.
  13. That is one set.
  14. Rest, and do two more sets with a three minute break between.

When raising the dumbbell or resistance weight, the only part of the body that should move is your forearm. Do not ‘swing’ shoulders or your back to raise the weight.

Concluding the Workout

A good cool-down can alleviate tightness and pain post-workout. My preferred arm exercise is to go back to the beginning and complete three sets of arm circles. 

In addition, also perform some ‘shakedowns’. Stand straight, and let your arms hang loosely by your sides. Begin to shake both arms simultaneously as if you are trying to remove water from them. As you do so, slowly raise them up to eye level and then back down again. Complete fifteen times.

Final Thoughts

If you tell anyone you have started working out, the first thing they will probably ask you is to show them your biceps. The arms are the ‘poster-boy’ of resistance training and significantly improve upper body appearance.

Furthermore, building up the arms will make life a lot easier. Whether busy in the garden, carrying groceries or playing sports, strong arms will push you beyond the average person in the street.

Follow the above arm workout, steadily increase repetitions, and you will see the benefits within just a few weeks.

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