Right alongside washboard abs and tight thighs, jiggle-free arms often top wish lists. While eating right and incorporating cardio are key ingredients to a healthy lifestyle, there’s only one way to truly torch upper arm fat. And the answer, of course, is strength training.
To get those slim and toned arms you’ve always wanted, try these 10 dumbbell exercises on for size.
1. Rotating tricep kickback
Tricep kickbacks can be done standing or leaning on a bench. | iStock.com/LunaMarina
You’re probably familiar with this move, which is good, because it’s an absolute must. Women’s Health says you’ll want to grab a dumbbell in each hand and hinge forward at the waist. Keeping your knees slightly bent, let your arms hang down toward the floor, palms facing each other.
Bend your right elbow until the weight comes to your waist, then extend your forearm as you rotate your palm toward the ceiling until your arm is parallel to the floor. Return to the starting position, and repeat the move 12 to 15 times before switching arms.
2. Bent-over dumbbell rows
Form is everything for this move. | iStock.com
For this move, begin standing tall with your feet hip-width apart, then hinge forward until your upper body is parallel to the ground. Keeping a slight bend in your knees, allow your arms to hang perpendicular to the ground, holding a dumbbell in each hand. Pull both arms up toward the ceiling, keeping your elbows out to the sides. Squeeze your shoulder blades at the top of this move, then return to the starting position to complete one rep. Repeat to exhaustion. For a visual, head to Women’s Health.
Arnolds will give you toned arms. | iStock.com/bekisha
If you only have time for one arm-strengthening exercise, this one’s it. Cosmopolitan says the Arnold works your shoulders, biceps, and triceps. To start, stand with weights in each hand, and arms slightly in front of you with palms facing forward.
First, do a bicep curl by lifting the weights toward your shoulders, then immediately rotate your wrist to face forward just before pressing your arms directly above your head. Reverse the motion to return to the starting position. That’s one rep. Repeat 15 times for one set.
4. Twisted front punch
This woman is about to do a twisted front punch exercise. | iStock.com/robertprzybysz
This move from celebrity trainer Tracy Anderson only requires 3-pound weights, but you’ll definitely feel the burn. Health says to start with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart and weights in each hand, arms hanging at your sides. Extend your right arm out in front of you, keeping it straight, as you rotate your arm inward. As with the other moves, reverse to return to the starting position. Repeat this motion seven times on each arm to complete one set. Repeat at least three more times on each arm.
5. Superman punches
This one also works your core. | iStock.com/tolstnev
Besides working your arms, superman punches will also work your shoulders, core, and back muscles, Life by Daily Burn says. With dumbbells in hand, get into a push-up position with your legs extended straight behind you, your back flat, and your palms facing each other. Bend your right elbow to pull your arm up, then extend your right arm forward in a punching motion, keeping your core tight and your back flat. Then, bring your arm back to starting position and repeat on the left side. Continue alternating arms until fatigued.
6. Back touch
Your back and shoulders will thank you. | iStock.com/Jacob Ammentorp Lund
Not only will this exercise work your biceps, but it’ll also engage your back and shoulder muscles. Fitness says to start standing with your feet hip-width apart and your arms hanging at your sides, a dumbbell in each hand. Bring your arms back so they’re about a foot behind you, then bend your right elbow with your palm facing you to just above your butt. Bring you arm back to the start of the motion, then repeat with the left arm. That’s two reps. Continue alternating sides for a total of 30 reps.
7. Bent-over reverse fly
If you’re a beginner, you’ll want to start with less weight than this. | iStock.com/jacoblund
The reverse fly is a great arm workout that’ll also work your upper back. To get started, Women’s Health says to stand with your feet hip-width apart and dumbbells in each hand. Bend at your knees and lean your upper body slightly forward, letting your arms hang straight down in front of you with your palms facing each other. Raise both of your arms out to your sides until they’re parallel to the ground, squeezing your shoulder blades together at the top of the move. Bring your arms back down and repeat for your desired number of repetitions.
8. Dumbbell overhead tricep extension
Tricep extensions come in a few variations, but this is one of our favorites. | iStock.com
The classic dumbbell overhead tricep extension is easier to perform than many other arm exercises, but still effective. To get started, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, dumbbells in hand. Men’s Health adds you should tighten your core and squeeze your glutes. Once you’re ready, lift the weights straight up above your head with your palms facing each other. While keeping your upper arms steady, bend your elbows to bring the weights behind your head, pause for a second, then bring the weights back up. Repeat this movement until you really feel the burn in your triceps.
9. Single-leg scarecrow
Your muscles will work harder as you’re forced to maintain balance. | iStock.com/SolisImages
This move will engage your arms, shoulders, and upper back, all while improving your balance. PopSugar explains you’ll start by standing on your left leg, with your right knee bent and lifted until your thigh is parallel to the ground. Then, with a dumbbell in each hand, raise your arms out to your sides so they’re parallel to the ground, bending your elbows at 90-degree angles. Bringing your hands toward the ceiling, keep palms facing forward. Then, rotate your arms until your hands are pointed toward the floor, palms facing the back of the room. Return to the starting position. Repeat 10 times, switch legs, then complete one more set.
10. Front to lateral raise
Front lateral raises are harder than they look. | iStock.com
This move might look easy, but you’ll feel the burn after just a few reps. To complete the front to lateral raise, Chatelaine shows you’ll start standing with your feet hip-width apart and your arms hanging just in front of your thighs, a dumbbell in each hand. Lift your arms straight out in front of you until they’re parallel to the ground, then move them to the sides so your body forms a “T” shape. Hold for one second, then lower your arms back to the starting position. Repeat 12 to 16 reps for one set.
Julie Peirano also contributed to this story
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