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The Best Arm Exercises For Women

Ladies - are you looking for inspiration for your next arm day at the gym? Or simply keen to learn new arm exercises to add to your workouts? This guide showcases some of our favourite arm workouts for women that require little or no equipment. Whether you’re exercising at home or in the gym, you’ll be able to find options here that work for you. 

Why would women want to work out their arms?

While we like to think that the fitness industry has come a long way away from the idea that men should stick to weightlifting, women should stick to cardio, we know that some women are still concerned about ‘bulking up’ when training, especially when using weights.

It takes a lot of hard work and dedication for women to build large, shapely muscles, so unless that is your goal, it’s unlikely that you’ll end up with huge muscly arms. However, arm exercises are a great way to boost upper body strength, create shape and definition, and can add to your overall muscle and body health, so they’re great to include as part of your workout routine.

Can women target arm fat with exercise?

Unfortunately, it's not possible to spot focus fat loss -- your genetics determine where you lose weight from first! Losing weight through a healthy nutrition plan and an understanding of your calories is the best way to trim down your arms, however, building arm muscle will help to create toned, defined arms. You may even find that you don't want to lose weight off your arms once you start building muscle.

What are exercises are good for women?

We've selected a few of our best arm workouts for women, including exercises which can be done at home with no equipment. You can work these exercises into a full body or upper body workout, or combine several of them for an arm specific workout.

Some of these moves predominantly target the arms, others are compound exercises which also work other upper body muscles like the shoulders and chest.

  1. Tricep Dips

    Target your triceps and your shoulders with tricep dips. These can be performed at home or at the gym and don't require any additional weights - you'll just need access to a gym bench or sturdy static chair. 

    1. Sit on the edge of the bench or chair and grab the side of your seat with your hands - keeping them close to either side of your thighs. 
    2. Straighten your arms and drop your bottom off the edge of the seat. Your knees should be bent to around 90 degrees. 
    3. Bend your elbows, keeping your forearms fairly still so your bottom drops towards the floor, stopping for a moment when your arms are bent to around 90 degrees. 
    4. Straighten your arms to extend back upwards. 
    5. Repeat for the desired number of reps.
  2. Plank

    This is a fantastic all-rounder exercise that not only targets your arms, but also your abs, glutes, back, chest and more! Check out our How to Plank guide for more details and variations to try. You can do this movement absolutely anywhere, you just need your own body weight!

    1. Start in a push-up position, with arms straight, hands below your shoulders, palms pressed into the floor and legs stretched out behind you. 
    2. If you prefer, you can keep your forearms flat on the floor.
    3. Make sure your body forms a straight line from neck to toes. 
    4. Hold for the required amount of time (potentially as long as you can!) before releasing.
  3. Straight Punches

    Straight punches work your shoulders, triceps, wrist flexors, and upper chest, and they do a good job of raising your heart rate too. Include them in a HIIT workout, or use them during a longer workout to get your heart pumping.

    1. Stand with feet hip-width apart, but staggered so one is just in front of you and the other just behind.
    2. Keeping your knees soft and your elbows bent, hold your fists up to around chin height in front of you. You want to act like you're 'protecting' your chin with your fists. 
    3. Punch your front fist straight in front of you, before pulling back and throwing the back fist, while rotating your hip slightly forward. 
    4. Alternate hands with strong, powerful, fast punches.
    5. On the next set, place the other foot in front. 

    Find this too easy? You can add a light pair of dumbbells to make it more challenging.

  4. Resistance Band Hammer Curl

    Dumbbells are great for hammer curls, but if you can't access any, or if you struggle with good form with a dumbbell, resistance bands can be used to add 'weight' to this exercise which targets your biceps. You can find out about hammer curls, bicep curls and more here

    1. Stand with feet hip-width apart, your core engaged and your shoulders back.
    2. Hold the ends of the resistance band in each hand, with palms facing in towards your body and loop the middle under your feet. 
    3. Keeping your forearms pressed against your body, bend your elbows and pull the resistance band up as far as you can - ideally until they meet your chest. 
    4. Hold for a moment before easing back down to starting position. 
    5. Repeat for the required number of reps.
  5. Dumbbell Chest Press

    Now we're starting to move on to exercises that require a little more equipment. Ideally, you'll have dumbbells for this, but at a push, you could use anything heavy that can be held in your hands. Perfect for targeting your pecs, deltoids and triceps, a chest press is one of the ultimate upper body exercises. 

    • Lie back on a bench, or on a mat on the floor, holding a dumbbell in each hand with your knuckles facing the ceiling. Your upper arms should be held out to the sides (forming a T shape with your body) at shoulder height, and your elbows should be bent so your forearms are pointing straight up towards the ceiling.
    • Keeping your core engaged, push the weights upwards until your arms are straight and positioned above your chest.
    • Hold for a moment before easing your arms back down slowly. 
    • With dumbbells, you can drop the weights right down past your shoulders (if you're on a bench) before lifting back up. 
    • Repeat for the required number of reps.
  6. Dumbbell Side Raise

    This exercise works your biceps and deltoids, the main muscles in your shoulders.  

    1. Stand with feet hip-width apart and your knees soft. 
    2. With a dumbbell in each hand and your palms facing your body, hold your arms by your sides. 
    3. Keeping your chest high and back straight, lift your hands horizontally upwards without bending your arms. 
    4. Once they reach shoulder level, pause before lowering back to starting position.
    5. Repeat for the required number of reps.
  7. Dumbbell Renegade Row

    Work your back, core and arm muscles while also improving your stability and balance with renegade rows. This is planking meets weightlifting! 

    1. Start in a classic plank position but with your shoulders sitting directly over your wrists. You will need to keep your legs spread wider than shoulder-width apart.
    2. Take a dumbbell in each hand with your wrists strong, so you're gripping the weight and leaning on the dumbbell rather than your hands. 
    3. Shifting your weight to the left side of your body and making sure your core is engaged, pull your left elbow backwards (while still tucked close to your body), lifting the dumbbell to around chest height. 
    4. Your body should remain steady throughout this movement - your hips and shoulders should be square, with no rocking or twisting.
    5. Slowly lower to starting position before alternating to your right arm.
    6. Repeat for the required number of reps.
  8. Barbell Curl

    This is really great bicep exercise which also improves your grip and forearm strength, and works the deltoids too. You'll need a barbell for this exercise. 

    1. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, holding the barbell downwards so it's resting around your thighs, gripping with palms facing upwards.
    2. Keeping the upper part of your arms stationary and your core engaged, curl the barbell up towards your shoulders, really focusing on using your biceps.
    3. Pause when you reach shoulder level then slowly lower the barbell back to starting position.
    4. Repeat for the required number of reps.

Hopefully these exercises will give you some inspiration to shake up your arm workouts. Remember, it's important to target every major muscle group in your workouts throughout the week. You can find more workouts for women here if you need ideas for other muscle groups here. If you're ready to hit the gym, why not find a PureGym near you and get started today?

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