10 Best Arm Exercises

Dec 11, 2012

I was asked by the Huffington post a few weeks ago for my “Top 10 exercises for toning the arms” you can find the pictures and description here but first check out this Q&A about arm training.

Are arms harder to tone than other parts for your body?

Not at all, the arms are quite easy to tone as they are a muscle group involved in most large upper body exercises. In fact having been a personal trainer for more than a decade I more often see that they receive too much work. For example EMG studies have shown that the Chin ups outperform bicep curls in the amount of muscle fibers recruited, meaning those big multi joint movements count as arm work a lot. The same goes with triceps were the dips outperform the overhead dumbbell extension.

Is it harder for men or women?

If you’re a women reading this right now don’t get discouraged and take this as a challenge, because unfortunately everything is biologically harder for women when it comes to exercise. “Toning” being a cute word for the simultaneous action of lowering bodyfat and building muscle is harder for women for two reason:

1. When it comes to losing body fat women naturally have larger fat cells and more of them. The triceps have also been shown to be an androgen receptor site where fat accumulates in that area when androgen levels are low. Men tend to have higher androgen levels and for that reason tend to get leaner in the tricep area. Maybe a topic for a different article.
2. Gaining muscle is much harder for women as the main building hormones like testosterone will be 10 times lower in women making progress that much slower

What are some exercise mistakes people make when it comes to arms?

Most people don’t plan out there exercise and thus not allowing the arms much rest. Arms (biceps and triceps) are like any other muscle group they need recovery in order to build them up. Structuring your program to make sure that they are not being used directly or indirectly more than every 48h would help.

Why do people have a hard time toning arms?

People that have trouble toning arms may have one of three issues:

1. Their diet may not be allowing them to lower their bodyfat thus making it seem like the triceps are not getting worked. They say abs are made in the kitchen, well so are toned arms.
2. They often can’t recruit them well as other muscle are taking over. Pre exhausting techniques and making sure that all joint angles are well set will help
3. They genetically don’t have the muscle belly roundness that say “Kelly Ripa” where it naturally has shows thicker, rounder muscle.

What is the hardest part of the arm to tone?

This depends on each individual. Everyone is built differently and comes to me with different challenges. Some people have trouble building the triceps while other will have trouble with the biceps. The trick is to find what works for each individual. Some people have Type II fibers and respond better to more weight, less repetitions while others have more type I fibers and respond better to less weight and more variation in exercises.

For beginners, what is the weight level we should start off with?

Always start off with a weight you are comfortable with and build up from there week after week. That’s what you call progressive resistance and it’s what is needed in order to make any sort of progress. As long as you try to increase the weight, sets or repetitions you will continue to improve. Starting is the most important part.

Can you tone your arms without weights?

Absolutely, different variations of pushups, dips, bodyweight extensions, chin ups and under rows are all great at working the arms. No excuses.

A lot of women hate that “jiggling fat” on their arms or “armpit fat” — is there really a way to get rid of these?

Sometimes the problem is that someone is just carrying too much fat on the triceps. The solution here is too eat a clean diet of natural foods, lower in carbohydrates and to exercise with resistance on a regular basis. Other times I see people that over the years have lost elasticity in their skin and unfortunately very little can be done but surgery. I wish I had a better answer but it’s just the truth.

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