Lift. Flex. Repeat.
What are the 3 top exercises for strong, defined arms? There are so many moves that we can do to strengthen and tone our arms. Most of the time, when we think of arm exercises we’re either targeting biceps or triceps. Many people forget all about the forearms!
The forearms are are responsible for grip strength (which is crucial to literally every exercise that involves holding any kind of weight). Pretty important, huh? Strong forearms will also make our upper body look more athletic and symmetrical. Neglecting the forearms stops now! Do it “for” your “arms” 😉 These are the 3 top exercises for strong, defined arms:
- Bicep Curl (with a Bar)
- Tricep Push-down
- Farmer’s Walk
1. Sets and Reps for Biceps and Triceps
In terms of gaining strength we want to follow the 3 set, 12/10/8 rule for our Biceps and Triceps Exercises. This means that we’ll perform 3 sets with a 30-60 second break in between each set. For the first set you’ll perform 12 reps. We want this to be challenging, so you may need to try different weight to figure out what you should start with. You should be working hard by that 12th rep. For the second set, you’ll go up slightly in weight so that you have to fight to get 10 reps. This will continue for the third and final set. Pick up a slightly heavier bar again and try to get 8 reps. The purpose here is to exhaust your muscles to strengthen and sculpt.
2. Modifications for Biceps and Triceps
In the past, I’ve had clients struggle with form when it comes to both of these exercises. When performing bicep curls, if you’re using weight that is too heavy for you, you’ll begin to sway or thrust your hips and extend your lower back. This is a BIG no-no! Not only does this take the focus away from your biceps, but it can also lead to a back injury. In order to fix this issue, lean your back against a wall making sure your shoulders never come off the wall. This will keep the movement in your arms and out of your back. If you want to isolate the bicep even further, you can do a single-arm curl with a dumbbell. Remember ladies, full range of motion should ALWAYS be the goal. Bring the weight all the way up and all the way down to complete one full rep.
When doing tricep push-downs, we tend to lean forward into spinal flexion in an attempt to get the weight all the way down. Again, this is most likely because the weight is too heavy. Drop it down a bit, focus on keeping your shoulders back, core engaged and elbows down at your sides. I tell my clients to imagine their elbows are glued to their ribs while performing push-downs. At the bottom of the push-down, it’s important to remember to flick your wrists out to really squeeze the triceps. Keep the movement slow and controlled throughout the entire exercises. (This applies to bicep curls as well.)
3. Farmer’s for Forearms
Our forearm exercise will be slightly different. You’ll want to pick up a heavy pair of dumbbells. Remember, this is intended to improve grip strength and shape the forearm. It is supposed to be challenging! The heavier the better! Once you have a firm grip on the dumbbells, I want you to walk in a straight line for about 50 yards. If there’s not enough room in the gym you can walk in a figure-8. It’s important to keep your shoulders back and your core engaged. I used to catch many of my clients holding their breath during this exercise. Don’t do that! Focus on your breathing and embrace the burn!
You can choose to do these exercises in a circuit (Biceps, Triceps, Forearms, Repeat) or you can complete all 3 biceps exercises before beginning Triceps, etc.
Bicep Curl (Barbell)
Try these out and let us know what you think in the comments below! What’s your favorite arm exercise? If you enjoyed these exercises check out these Moves for Toned and Jiggle-Free Arms. Follow us on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram for more workouts like this one!