Resistance training that improves your upper body strength is the best way to get lean, toned and strong. Use your own body weight or, even better, add dumbbells or kettlebells. A great starting point is with five- to 10-pound dumbbells or a 15- to 20-pound kettlebell – but remember, good form and control is important. To avoid injury, move up to heavier weights only when you are comfortable that you’re strong enough to handle it.
How long will it take to see results?
If you strength train three times per week, you’ll feel a difference in strength in about two weeks, and you’ll actually see a difference (in the form of toned arms) in four weeks. For each arms workout, choose any combination of at least eight different arm exercises targeting various muscle groups. Complete 8 to 12 repetitions, and two to three sets.
Here are the best arm exercises for women to get toned arms and a strong upper back.
Stand tall with knees slightly bent. Holding a dumbbell in each hand, let your arms hang by your sides, palms facing in.
Keep a slight bend in your elbows as you raise your arms out to the sides until the dumbbells are level with shoulders (make sure your palms are facing the floor).
Lower your arms; complete 8 to 12 reps.
Start kneeling on an exercise mat or the floor and bring your feet together behind you.
Bend forward to position yourself in a high plank, the top of a pushup position, with your palms flat on the mat, hands shoulder-width apart, and with your fingers facing forward or hands turned slightly in. Your shoulders should be positioned over your hands. Your feet should be together behind you and your back should be flat. Keep your abs pulled in.
Slowly lower your body toward the floor. Maintain a rigid torso and keep your head aligned with your spine. Don’t let your low back sag or your hips hike upward.
Continue to lower yourself until your chest or chin touch the ground. Your elbows may flare out during the downward movement.
Press upward with your arms. Continue pressing until your arms are fully extended at your elbows and you’re back in the plank, at the top of the pushup position.
Repeat the downward movement. Start with 10 pushups, or however many you can do with proper form, and work your way up as you build strength.
When performing a pushup:
Keep your back straight and your core engaged.
Your butt should be down, not lifted.
Your body should form a straight line. Don’t arch your back or let your body sag down.
Begin in plank position with the arms and body straight, shoulders over the wrists. Keep the core engaged.
Bend the elbows behind you and lower your chest to the floor. Keep your upper arms tight to your body so your elbows are against your ribs on both sides.
Straighten the arms, coming back to plank position.
This counts as one rep. Do as many reps as you can with correct form.
Crouching Tiger Pushups
Start in a push-up position with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
Lower your chest toward the floor; then, bend your knees and press back through your shoulders to bring your knees directly under your hips.
Lift your hips to straighten your legs (like in downward dog).
In the last step, perform a rolling wave, articulating the spine (drawing the navel toward the spine) to return to the start position. (This is a circular motion.)
Repeat for 30 seconds or 8 to 10 reps.
Position yourself on all fours in plank position, your hands stacked under your shoulders and your body forming a straight line.
Keeping your abs engaged, bend your knees to hover an inch or so off the mat, then straighten them up again. Make sure you squeeze your glutes with each extension of your knees back into your plank position. Repeat.
Advanced Plank to Knee Tap
To make this exercise even more challenging, raise one arm up and hold it out in front.
Position your hands shoulder-width apart on a secured bench or stable chair.
Slide your butt off the front of the bench with your legs extended out in front of you.
Straighten your arms, keeping a little bend in your elbows to keep tension on your triceps and off your elbow joints.
Slowly bend your elbows to lower your body toward the floor until your elbows are at about a 90-degree angle. Be sure to keep your back close to the bench.
Once you reach the bottom of the movement, press down into the bench to straighten your elbows, returning to the starting position. This completes one rep.
Keep your shoulders down as you lower and raise your body. You can bend your legs to modify this exercise.
Do 15 to 20 reps per set and aim to do two to three sets.