6 Best Arm Workouts for Women (To Shape & Define Your Arms)

Christiana Mikesch, CPT
Published by Christiana Mikesch, CPT | Senior Coach
Last updated: March 11, 2024
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Women should build strong arm muscles to stay safe, active, and healthy. Strengthening your arms will give you the confidence and ability to tackle everyday activities, reduce injury risk, and keep your arms toned as you age.

In the last decade, I have created hundreds of arm workouts for my female clients to improve arm muscle strength and tone. I handpicked five of my favorites for this article.

From triceps dips to biceps curls, this article will outline arm exercises that will increase your muscle strength and definition.

Let’s get started.

Quick Summary

  • The six best arm workouts for women include the bicep curl, ear delt fly, triceps dip, overhead dumbbell press, dumbbell pullover, and high-to-low plank.
  • These workouts with a combination of push and pull movements will provide efficient and balanced arm-toning exercises.
  • Cleveland Clinic notes that strengthening the more than 20 arm muscles, essential for a range of movements from fine motor skills to push-pull actions, is crucial for improving aesthetics, reducing injury risk, and making daily tasks easier.
  • In my opinion, consistently practicing these arm workouts can significantly enhance both the functional strength and aesthetic appeal of a woman's arms.

Best Arm Exercises for Women

dumbbell-bicep-curl

The following are some of my favorite arm exercises I incorporate into fitness plans for women looking to improve arm muscle strength and definition.

Use weights or resistance appropriate for your fitness level to avoid injury during your arm workout.

You can increase your strength or resistance as you get stronger over time.

1. Bicep Curl

The bicep curl is a fundamental strength-training exercise targeting upper arm muscles.

To perform bicep curls, you can use a cable machine, resistance bands or dumbbells. This example will use dumbbells.

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing up.
  • Bend your elbows and keep them tight to your torso.
  • Ensure your upper arms move as little as possible during the movement.
  • Keep your back straight while curling your forearms upward toward your chest in a controlled motion.
  • Squeeze at the top of the movement.
  • Return to the start while focusing on a steady contraction of the biceps muscles.
  • Repeat for 8–10 reps.

2. Rear Delt Fly

rear delt fly

Hold dumbbells in each hand and stand with your feet hip-width apart with your knees slightly bent.

  • Bend forward and let your arms hang straight down with your palms facing your body.
  • Simultaneously raise both arms out to the side, keeping a slight bend in the elbows.
  • Squeeze the shoulder blades together.
  • Lower back to the starting position with controlled movement. That is one rep.
  • Do rear delt fly 2-3 sets of 10-15 reps.

triceps dips3. Triceps Dip

To begin, stand, facing away from a stable bench or chair.

  • Grab the bench or chair with both hands shoulder-width apart.
  • Your legs should be fully extended in front of you.
  • Slowly lower your body until you bend your elbows to 90 degrees.
  • Using your triceps, lift yourself back to the starting position.
  • Do 2-3 sets of 10-15 reps.

“The muscles required for arm movements include the muscles in the front and back of your arm, as well as the chest, shoulders, and upper back muscles.”

- Tyler Read, Certified Personal Trainer

4. Overhead Dumbbell Press

Overhead Press

Start by standing with feet shoulder-width apart and dumbbells in each hand at shoulder height with palms facing forward.

  • Straighten your arms and press the dumbbells above your head, fully extending your arms.
  • Briefly hold at the top of the movement.
  • Lower the weights back to shoulder height with control.
  • Repeat for 8–12 reps.

5. Dumbbell Pullover

To perform this exercise, lie on your back with your knees bent 90 degrees and your feet hip-width apart.

  • With your hands shoulder-width apart, hold a dumbbell horizontally.
  • dumbbell-pulloverYour palms should be facing in.
  • Press your heels into the floor and squeeze your glutes to lift your hips slightly.
  • Keep arms straight, but elbows slightly bent.
  • With a slow, controlled movement, lower the dumbbell overhead toward the floor until your arms are parallel to the ground.
  • Pull the dumbbell back to the start.
  • Repeat for 8–12 reps.

6. High-To-Low Plank

High-To-Low Plank

Start by getting into a high plank position.

  • Keep your body straight and your core engaged.
  • Bring your left arm down until your forearm is on the mat.
  • Repeat with the right arm bringing yourself to a forearm plank position.
  • Reverse the movement by pressing your left palm into the floor and straightening your arm.
  • Do the same with the right arm so you are back to the high plank.
  • Repeat the movement remembering to bend your arms with control.
  • Repeat for two 30-second sets.
  • Rest briefly in between sets.

Why Strong Arms Are Important for Women

According to Cleveland Clinic, your arms consist of over 20 muscles that aid a variety of movements, from fine motor to more significant push-pull movements [1].

Strengthening the arm muscles is essential for many reasons, including aesthetics, reducing injury risk, and performing everyday tasks easier.

Now let's delve into the benefits of performing the arm exercises.

Related Articles:

Benefits of Performing Arm Exercises

Below are some of the key benefits of performing these arm exercises:

  • Enhances Upper Body Strength: Arm exercises boost strength in the biceps, triceps, and shoulders, aiding daily tasks like lifting and carrying.
  • Improves Bone Health: Regular arm workouts can increase bone density, reducing the risk of osteoporosis, which is especially important for postmenopausal women.
  • Boosts Metabolic Rate: Building muscle through arm exercises elevates the resting metabolic rate, aiding in more efficient calorie burning and weight management.
  • Enhances Aesthetics and Confidence: Toned arms contribute to a more sculpted appearance, boosting self-esteem and body confidence.
  • Supports Overall Fitness and Balance: Strong arms enhance performance in other exercises and sports, contributing to better overall fitness and balance.

FAQs

How Quickly Can a Woman Tone Her Arms?

How quickly a woman can tone her arms depends on the frequency and intensity of arm exercises. Most women should see a noticeable difference in muscle definition within four to eight weeks.

How Many Times a Week Should a Woman Work Out Arms?

A woman should work out her arms two to three times per week on non-consecutive days so the muscles can recover in between sessions. Adding aerobic exercise two to three days per week will support strength training through additional calorie burn and fat loss.


References:

  1. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/body/22312-arm-muscles
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About The Author

Christiana Mikesch, CPT
Senior Coach
Christiana Mikesch, CPT is a personal trainer and author with contributions to publications like the Chicago Tribune and Yahoo. She emphasizes a holistic approach to weight loss, combining an energy-fueling diet, goal-oriented workouts, and daily habits. Her approach avoids short-term goals and fosters a lifelong commitment to health and well-being.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT
Staff Writer
Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT holds a BSc degree in Holistic Nutrition from Clayton College of Natural Health and is the owner of Taylor Made Fitness. Her philosophy centers on cutting through the hype and misinformation surrounding dietary supplements, focusing instead on practical, science-backed strategies for health and weight loss.
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Dr. Harshi Dhingra, MBBS, MD is a published peer-reviewed author and renowned physician from India with over a decade of experience. With her MBBS from Bharati Vidyapeeth and an MD from Rajiv Gandhi University, she actively ensures the accuracy of online dietary supplement and medical information by reviewing and fact-checking health publications.
Learn more about our editorial policy

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