If you want to start incorporating arm exercises into your home workout program but aren't sure where to start, we’ve got just the ticket. These at-home arm workouts are easy, effective, and you can do them almost anywhere.
All you need for the first set of exercises is your bodyweight—making them convenient to squeeze into your schedule if you’re traveling, on a business trip, or even at the office. We’ve also included exercises that allow you to take advantage of dumbbells or weights if you have access to them. Try them out on their own, or better yet, tack them onto our 10-minute HIIT workout for an extra challenge.
Get to know your arm muscle anatomy
First things first: If you’re looking to tone up or build muscle, it’s important to understand your arm muscle anatomy. In most cases, the biceps and the triceps are the muscles that the majority of people tend to target when working on their arms, so that’s where we’ll focus on here.
The biceps tend to show a marked difference in size faster than the triceps, leading some people to overwork them. However, It’s crucial to work both sets of muscles equally. Working out both flexor (bicep) and extensor (tricep) muscles will help you maintain a balanced body, healthy posture, and a normal range of motion as well as prevent injuries.
When you think of the typical, flexed arm, the biceps are usually the image that pops to mind—think strong arm emoji 💪 or the classic bodybuilder pose. Located at the front of the arm between your shoulder and your elbow, the biceps (or biceps brachii, the Latin for two-headed arm muscle) is integral when lifting objects. The bicep itself is made up of two muscles, one short, one long and extend past both the elbow and the shoulder, helping to stabilize the joints in the arm and shoulder. This muscle aids flexion and can also support your back muscles when you perform back exercises.
Whereas the bicep is responsible for arm flexion, the triceps (tricep brachii in Latin for “three-headed muscles of the arm”) is primarily responsible for the extension of the elbow joint—straightening the elbow and in turn the arm. This three-part muscle is located at the back of the arm, between your shoulder and elbow. The triceps can work in tandem with the pectoral muscles for a stronger, toned chest.
Speaking of... Try this chest workout at home to keep the upper-body love going!
At-home arm workout: Bodyweight exercises
Perform this entire circuit 3 to 4 times for the best results. As always, form trumps speed—execute the exercises in a controlled, slow manner rather than fast and erratically to avoid injury.
Don't forget to stretch: We know you've probably heard it before, but stretching is good for you and it feels great! Give our 10-minute full-body stretching routine a try and see for yourself.
Muscles targeted: Arms, shoulders, chest, upper back, core, hamstrings, glutes
1. Stand with your feet together.
2. With your legs straight, bend at the hips and place your hands on the floor just in front of your feet.
3. Slowly walk your hands forward, alternating between hands.
4. Keep walking until your body is parallel to the floor in a push-up position, then hold for three seconds.
5. Keep your hands in place and slowly walk your feet towards your hands, moving only a few inches per step.
6. Once your hands reach your feet, raise your torso up and return to the start position.
Plank to push-up
Reps: 10 total, 5 per side
Muscles targeted: Triceps, chest, shoulders, core
1. Place your elbows on the floor directly underneath your shoulders with your forearms parallel, keeping your legs straight behind you, with your feet together and toes curled under.
2. Tense your muscles to keep your body in a straight line from your head to feet.
3. Push up with one hand, then follow with the other until you’re in a push-up position.
4. Lower back down to your elbows one arm at a time to return to the start position.
Muscles targeted: Triceps, shoulders, upper back
1. Place your hands behind you on a bench or chair, keeping your shoulders directly above your wrists and your fingers facing your body.
2. Stretch your legs straight in front of you with your heels on the floor.
3. Bend your elbows and lower your hips towards the floor with control.
4. Straighten your arms to press your body back up to the start position.
Muscles targeted: Shoulders, triceps, chest, core, upper and lower back, glutes
1. Place your hands directly under your shoulders and elbows on the floor, slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
2. Step your legs straight out behind you, landing your feet on an elevated surface with your toes curled under.
3. Tense your muscles to keep your body in a straight line from your head to feet.
4. Lower your torso until your chest touches the floor, keeping your elbows tight to your body.
5. Straighten your arms while pressing your torso up and away from the floor, then return to the start position.
Arm workout with dumbbells at home
These weighted movements will work your entire arm, with specific exercises focusing on the biceps, triceps, and shoulders. Repeat the following sequence of exercises 3 to 4 times. Though you’re working your arms, these exercises also incorporate much of your chest and back too, so remember to keep your core tight and engage throughout for strength and stability.
If you’re new to weights and wondering what weight your dumbbells should be, then start with very light weights to master the technique first. Slowly increase the weight, so the last 3-4 reps are harder to execute.
Want to learn more about getting toned arms? Take a look at our article on how to lose arm fat to discover why spot training is a myth.
Muscles targeted: Biceps
1. Stand straight with a weight in each hand and both arms at your sides.
2. Rotate your forearm so that your palms face up, your thumbs face out, and your elbows are tight by your body.
3. Bend at the elbow to lift the weight towards your shoulder.
4. Slowly squeeze your biceps once your hand reaches its final position.
5. Lower your hand back down to your side to return to the start position.
Overhead tricep extension
Muscles targeted: Triceps, shoulders
1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, holding the dumbbells in each hand, raise your arms up straight above your head,
2. With your elbows close to your ears, bend at your elbow and lower the weights behind your head.
2. Keep elbows tight, straighten arms and slowly lift the dumbbells towards the ceiling.
3. Squeeze your triceps muscles once at the top position and hold for a second.
4. Slowly lower your hands back down to the start position.
Muscles targeted: Deltoids
1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, arms hanging by your sides, with the dumbbells in your hands and palms facing your body.
2. Engage your core, keeping a slight bend in the arms before slowly lifting your arms up sideways with your palms facing the floor.
3. Once your arms reach shoulder-height, pause at the top of the movement.
4. Slowly lower your hands back down to the start position.
Muscles targeted: Biceps, the entire back
1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and with your palms facing your body.
2. Keep knees slightly bent, then hinge at the hips until your torso is almost parallel to the floor and your arms hang perpendicular to the floor.
3. While keeping your torso stationary, lift your weights to drive your elbows behind your body.
4. Squeeze your shoulder blades together to engage your back muscles at the top of the movement and hold for a second.
5. Slowly lower your weights to the start position.
Standing tricep kickbacks
Muscles targeted: Triceps
1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold a dumbbell in each hand.
2. Hinge forward at the hips until your chest is almost parallel to the ground. Keep your knees slightly bent, your arms tight to your sides and a 90° bend in your elbows.
3. Lift the weights to the back by straightening your arms, then squeeze the tricep muscles and pause for a moment.
4. Slowly lower the dumbbells back to the start position.
Make arm workouts at home fun with 8fit
Even doing these sets of exercises just a few times a week can make you feel leaner, stronger and more confident. Remember, a healthy diet is a must if you want to see real results. When it comes to slimming down or gaining muscle, what you eat plays just as an important a role as exercise. Diet and exercise make a winning pair, especially in the long run.
Want to keep training from the comfort of home? Try some of our favorite at-home workouts.