Most women want svelte, athletic, toned arms. For a women to be ‘’toned’’ essentially means having more muscle and less body fat, and this can only be achieved by strength training. The younger you start to build muscle strength the easier it will be later on in life – think of it as retirement savings: The more you invest in your muscle development, the larger the base you have to function healthily and longer.
A quick word about intensity
To lift weights without intensity equals minimal results – you just won’t get a great training effect.
However there is no ideal number because everyone’s strength levels are different. Over the years I have always been told by trainers that when you do a set of 8 reps, then that last rep should be tough and difficult to complete. In other words if you could have done another 10 more reps on top of your 8, then that is NOT intensity. You need to finish your sets knowing you could have done one but no more than two more reps. It is that intensity that will actually challenge your muscles and help you build a lean and fit body.
- lift with more intensity, train in a lower rep range (sets of 5 reps).
- lift with less intensity, train in a higher rep range (sets of 8-12 reps)
So what are the best exercises for well-defined arms for women? Here are my 5 top arm sculpting exercises.
- Grab a pair of dumbbells and stand with your feet hip-width apart and your knees bent
- Bend forward at the hips and let your arms hang straight down from your shoulders, palms facing in
- Raise both arms out to the sides as you squeeze your shoulder blades together
- Return to start. That’s one rep.
- Do 8 reps
- Hold a pair of dumbbells at your sides, palms facing forward
- Keep your back straight and chest up
- Without moving your upper arms, bend your elbows and curl the weights toward your shoulders
- Slowly lower the weights back to the starting position, straightening your arms completely. That’s one rep.
- You can also do single arm
Pyramid biceps curl:
- From rest position curl up half way and stop – 7 reps
- From shoulder position curl down half way and stop – 7 reps
- Then do full curls set – 7 reps
- Do 3 rounds and feel it burn!
Overhead Triceps Extension
- Stand with feet hip-width apart and knees slightly bent, gripping the dumbbell with both of your hands.
- Hold the dumbbells at arm’s length above your head, your palms facing each other.
- Bend your elbows, lowering the dumbbell behind your head. Keep your upper arms close to your head and elbows pointing toward the ceiling.
- Straighten your arms upward
- Do 8 reps.
- Grab a pair of dumbbells, bend at the hips and knees, and lower your torso untils it’s almost parallel to the floor
- Let the dumbbells hang at arm’s length from your shoulders, and palms facing behind you
- Bend your elbows and pull the dumbbells to the side of your torso
- Pause, then slowly lower the bumbbells
- Do 8 reps
Dumbbell Plank Row
- Start in a plank position with your legs wider than hip-width distance; the wider the stance the easier the moves
- Hold onto your dumbbells, keeping your wrist locked to protect the joint
- With your core tight and your glutes engaged, exhale, stabilising your torso as you lift your right elbow to row; feel your right scapula sliding toward your spine as you bend your elbow up toward the ceiling.
- Keeping your neck long and energised, return the weight to the ground and repeat the movement on your left side.
- Do 10 reps per arm
Incorporate these exercises at least twice a week to start noticing a difference, and rotate through. The key here is to really focus on muscle-mind connection — this will ensure you’re recruiting your arm muscles in the most effective way. And remember to lift with intensity.
- Simply select 3 exercises from the above
- Do 8 reps of each (the last rep should always be difficult)
- Rest for 60 seconds between rounds
- Do 4 rounds
No strain, no gain
Women are incredibly strong, and capable of challenging and effective strength training exercises. Don’t believe the myth that strength training will make you bulky. Just ask any body builder how hard it actually is.
Strength training will however help you develop athletic and toned arms, improve your overall fitness level, and make you feel incredibly empowered.