How to Sculpt Toned, Tight Upper Arms

by | Updated: December 2nd, 2016 | Read time: 3 minutes

Whether you’re wearing a sleeveless dress, tank top or tight-fitting shirt, having strong, toned, tight-looking arms looks great—and can make you feel sexy and more confident, too. If you’ve let your upper arms go, it may seem like nothing you can do will firm up those drooping wings or stop the jiggle. But with a few simple exercises, done once or twice a week consistently (we’re not talking two weeks, here), you’ll regain strength and be able to wave goodbye to unflattering sag, for good.

Upper Arm Workout Plan


As with any other problem area, spot reduction doesn’t work on the upper arms. In other words, you can’t target only your triceps and expect a transformation. All three muscle groups—biceps, triceps and forearms—need to be worked to achieve real results. Here’s a simple routine to get started:

(12 reps, 3 sets each)
Alternate bicep curls (with dumbbells)
Cable machine curls
Bicep machine

(12 reps, 3 sets each)
Behind the head-extensions
Tricep pushdowns
Tricep kickbacks

How to perform the exercises:

Alternate bicep curls – Stand or sit with a dumbbell in each hand, elbows close to your body and palms of your hands facing your thighs.  Curl up the weight in your right hand, rotating your wrist and contracting your bicep muscle so you feel a squeeze. (Do not raise the weight all the way to shoulder level). Bring the weight back down to starting position, then repeat with the left arm.

Cable machine curls – Attach the cable curl short bar on a low pulley.  Hold the bar with your palms facing up, shoulder-width apart and with your elbows close to your sides.  Lift the weight, keeping your upper arms still and contracting the bicep to about shoulder level; pause, then lower the bar back down.

Bicep machine – Adjust the seat and choose your desired weight. Hold handles with your palms facing up, then curl the weight up, making sure to concentrate on your bicep while keeping your shoulders relaxed (no shrugging – if you shrug, it means the weight is too heavy). Lower the weight back down slowly. Repeat.

Behind the head extensions – Use a dumbbell and a military press bench (a bench with a short back that looks like a chair), if available. This bench will provide back support. Hold the dumbbell behind your neck with two hands, palms flat. Slowly lower the dumbbell behind your head, about 90 degrees, holding the upper part of your arm stationary. Return to starting position, pushing through with your palms as you lift.

Tricep pushdowns – Use the short straight bar. Facing the bar attachment, hold the bar with your palms facing down, about shoulder-width apart. Keeping your elbows close to your sides and slightly back, push the weight down, concentrating on your triceps. Slowly raise the bar up so it’s aligned just under your chest. Only your forearms should move during the exercise – your elbows and upper arms should stay stationary at your sides. Lower weight down again, then repeat.

Tricep kickbacks – Start with a dumbbell in one hand, with your palms facing your torso. Keep your back straight, knees slightly bent and bend over slightly. (Your torso should be almost parallel with the floor.) Keep your head up, upper arms close to your body and your elbows up. With upper arm stationary, lift the weight back (kick back) as you fully extend the arm. Concentrate on moving your forearm, then squeeze your tricep muscle as it extends. Lower the weight to starting position, then repeat.

Upper arm workout essentials:

Crosstrainer gloves: To protect your hands and get the most secure grip when lifting weights or using machines, wear a pair of crosstrainer gloves. Valeo makes a set that’s flexible and lightly padded in the palm and index-finger areas for extra comfort.

Hydration shots: Stay hydrated with an Argo Labs Coconut Water Hydration Shot. All-natural and refreshing, these quick replenishers provide a perfect balance of electrolyes in a single, easy-to-drink shot.

Cleansing towelettes: After working up a sweat, cleanse and soothe your skin with am unscented Giovanni Facial Cleansing Towelette. These portable, non-greasy towels won’t clog pores or leave residue. Use them on your face, neck or shoulders for a quick cleanup.

Supplement burner: For a little extra help kicking fat to the curb, try a supplement such as Vitacost ARO Burn. This stimulant-free herbal blend delivers garcinia cambogia, raspberry ketones and green coffee bean extract for natural support without jittery side effects.