Knowing how to do effective arm exercises is an integral part of any total body workout. As with most exercise programs, it's a three step process of mild stretching, strength training, and some final stretching as part of the cool down process. Here are some easy toning and weight lifting exercises to get you started on your quest to healthy, toned arms.
First, however, there are some points to keep in mind. Before you start any of these exercise routines, you should always check with your doctor. Also, make sure to wear comfortable workout clothes and keep yourself hydrated by having a water bottle handy. Make sure you have all of your exercise equipments and gears nearby (dumbbell weights, a towel, etc.) and then you're ready to begin.
- Stretching. Start out with a few minutes of mild stretching. Stretching helps to get the blood flowing to the tendons, ligaments and muscles so that you can get the maximum benefits from the exercises, while at the same time reducing the risk of injury. While sitting or standing, reach up over your head with one arm at time and gently stretch for about 10 seconds, and then release the stretch. You should then do the same move with both arms overhead together. Next, reach over with your right hand and grab hold of your left arm above the elbow, and pull the left arm gently to the right (the key word here is "gently"). Hold this position for another 10 seconds and release. Repeat this movement with the left arm, gently pulling on the right arm.
- Strength Training. The next phase of your routine is to do some strength training. There are two ways to go about this, depending on your personal fitness goals. The first option is to build muscle mass by doing heavy lifting in a relatively few number of repetitions. The second option--and the one most people opt for once they are in their 30s and beyond--is to do toning exercises with lighter weights but a higher number of repetitions. Either way, it will benefit you to go to your local sporting goods store and buy an inexpensive set of dumbbells. Dumbbells are available in a variety of weight increments--from one or two pound weights all the way up to 10 pound weights and beyond.
- The Dumbbell Curl. A classic and very effective exercise is the dumbbell curl. Stand or sit with your back straight and take a small dumbbell in each hand. Keep your arms down by your sides and your knuckles towards your body. Bring up the weights to chest level by bending your elbows and then lower the weights in a controlled manner back to the starting position. Start out with 8 repetitions and work your way up to 16 repetitions. Once you can do 16 reps without too much trouble, you'll know its time to increase the weight. This exercise is great for your biceps.
- The Reverse Curl. A variation on the dumbbell curl is the reverse curl. This is basically the same movement as the dumbbell curl, but you should start out with your knuckles facing away from your body. This exercise helps to work the forearms.
- Push-Ups. If you don't have weights, a great exercise you can try is push-ups. With your arms straight and elbows slightly bent, and hands and knees touching the ground, lower yourself to the ground so that your chest is about 4 or 5 inches from the floor. Raise yourself back up to the starting position again. Once you can do about 10 repetitions with ease, try doing the push-ups with your legs off the ground and supported by your toes instead of your knees. Your triceps will benefit greatly from this movement.
- Cool Down Stretches. To close out your workout, be sure to spend about 5 minutes doing some light stretching as part of your cool down. Although it is tempting to skip the cool down, it is important that you always give your muscles have a chance to relax.
Follow these routines and, in a few short weeks, you will be stronger and have arms that you will be proud of!