With the weeks of endless sunshine in the UK you may think we are coming to the end of summer, but we’re only halfway through and kids haven’t even broken up from school yet, so there is still plenty of time to work on that ‘summer body’. One area where most people focus is arms, and everyone wants strong muscular arms. However, are you doing the right exercises to reach your goals? Below we look at 3 simple exercises based on ability at beginner, intermediate and advanced levels, that can build you bigger arms in just 4 weeks if done 3 – 4 times per week.
Beginner Arm Exercises
Dumbbell overhead tricep extension
Hold a dumbbell in each hand and lift them above your head until your arms are fully extended. Lower the dumbbells behind your head by bending your elbows, and then return back to the fully extended position. This movement works the tricep like no other and isolates the muscle to ensure all effort comes from the tricep only.
This can be done with a barbell or dumbbell. With dumbbells , hold a dumbbell in each hand, keeping your elbows in line with your torso, by your side. Curl the weights up towards your shoulders, then back down towards your hips. Be sure to keep the bars inline with your body, and avoid twisting your hands as your curl. This helps to isolate your bicep muscles. If using a barbell, the movement is the same, and as the bar is held by both hands, you don’t need to worry about twisting, as the bar prevents this.
The overhead press is a great arm exercise as it works several muscle groups at the same time, including some in your upper body. Hold two dumbbells at head height with your elbows bent at a 90° angle, at either side of your body. Press the dumbbells above your head, fully extending your arms. The dumbbells should meet in the middle, then lower them back down under control. This can also be done with a barbell.
Intermediate Arm Exercises
If at a gym, grab a bench to do this on, or if at home or out and about, use a park bench or chair. Stand and place your hands on the object behind you, and try to lock your legs straight infront of you, with a bend in the waist, with your body weight supported by your hands behind you and your heels on the floor. Slowly lower your shoulders until they dip to elbow height, then raise again. This is a great calisthenic exercise and can be done anywhere.
The classic press up / push up may sound boring but there are few exercises that work so many muscle groups, so well, at the same time. Start on all fours with your hands directly under your shoulders and arms extended, and legs straight supporting your weight on your toes. Lower your chest to the ground, then push back up. Try to keep your elbows as close to your body as possible.
Front raise to lateral raise
This 2 part exercise uses dumbbells and you will typically use a much lighter weight than for bicep curls. Hold two dumbbells at your sides, palms facing you, and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. With your elbows slightly bent, raise the dumbbells to shoulder height in front of you and lower them again. Then raise them to shoulder height out to your sides. Continue to alternate between front and side (lateral) raises. Try to keep your legs and waist stationary through these movements as this will prevent your body giving you momentum to make the moves easier.
Advanced Arm Exercises
You need a pair of gymnastic rings for this. Start by adjusting the height of the rings so your feet won’t touch the ground between reps. Mount the rings and get in a support position – you should be above the rings with your arms straight and supporting your bodyweight. Try not to allow any swing to creep in. Lower your body in a controlled manner, keeping your arms close to your sides, then press back up to the support position.
Close-grip triceps press-up
A variation on the classic press up / push up, the triceps press-up is awesome as it really challenges your arms to work a bit harder, while also engaging your core. Get into a press-up position but place your hands under your chest with your thumbs and index fingers creating a diamond pattern. Lower yourself until your chest just touches the ground, then push back up.
Barbell front raise
Holding a barbell with your hands shoulder-width apart, allow your arms to hang straight down to mid-thigh height, palms towards you. Raise the bar straight out in front of you with your arms extended until it reaches shoulder height, then slowly lower it back to the starting position. Your arms should be as straight as possible during the movement with just a small bend in the elbow if needed. This is a more advanced take on the intermediate level front raise.
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