8 Moves to Toned Arms

Break out the short sleeves! This simple arm-defining workout will get you toned and confident.
Published November 30, 2015

If the thought of baring your arms makes you yearn for snowstorm weather, don’t panic. With a little work now, you’ll be ready to don your favorite tank top, sundress or swimsuit as the temperature climbs. 

Together, cardio and strength work are the best combination for toning your upper body. Working both means you’ll shed the fat while building the muscle that lies beneath, making for an impressive summer reveal. 

Follow this Tabata-style workout two to four times each week. Complete as many repetitions as possible in 20 seconds, rest 10 seconds, then move on to the next exercise. After you’ve done a full set of moves, rest for one minute before completing the entire set a second, third or fourth time. Remember, you want your heart rate to come up, so when you’re ready… push the pace. 

Always remember that good form is key. Only go as fast as you can while keeping good form. As you get more confident, you’ll be able to complete more repetitions. Keep track of your reps and watch for improvement.

Triangle push-ups
(works triceps, forearms, chest and the front of shoulders)
From a hands and knees position, walk your hands forward and straighten from your knees to the crown of your head. Form a triangle with your thumbs and index fingers. Lower your chest down to touch your hands as you inhale, exhale as you straighten your arms.

Angled bicep curls or basic dumbbell curls
(works biceps and forearms)
With feet shoulder-width apart and elbows close to your sides, curl fists (with or without weights) upward as you exhale. Inhale as you lower.

Floor dips or Chair dips
(works triceps, forearms, chest and shoulders)
Position your hands on the floor or edge of a chair. With feet out in front of you, raise and lower your body off of the ground and back or down to floor and back.

Front arm raises or Dumbbell front raises 
(works shoulders chest, biceps and forearms)
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. With or without dumbbells, raise hands up and out in front of you with straight arms. Exhale as you raise your hands, inhale as you lower.

Rear triceps extensions
(works triceps and forearms)
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and a slight bend in the knee, lean forward 45 degrees. Bend elbow to bring fist or weight to chest level, then extend hand down and back while keeping elbow and upper arm stationary.

Lateral raises or Seated lateral dumbbell raises 
(works shoulders, neck, biceps and forearms)
Sitting in a chair, bend elbows to 90 degrees with hands just above thighs. Exhale as you bring elbows up and out the sides, keeping hands/weights level with elbows. Inhale as you lower.

Bent over rows
(works shoulders, biceps, forearms and back)
With feet shoulder-width apart, lean forward about 45 degrees bending slightly at the knee. With or without weights, exhale as you pull arms back and toward your stomach. Keep elbows close to your body, inhaling as you return arms to starting position.

Overhead dumbbell presses
(works shoulder, neck triceps and forearms)
From a seated position, begin with hand or weights just above your shoulders. Press hands or weights overhead, exhaling as you fully extend your arms, inhale as you return hands or weights to shoulder level.

Laurie Lethert Kocanda is an ACE certified fitness professional, CrossFit Level 1 Trainer, and co-author of Hot (Sweaty) Mamas: Five Secrets to Life as a Fit Mom.