No need to worry if you’re new to strength training, because it’s safe and appropriate for all training levels. It’s just going to take you a little bit of time to become comfortable with the weights. When training your arms using free weights such as dumbbells and barbells, your stabilizing muscles must also get involved to coordinate the movement. The major muscles in your upper arms include your biceps at the front, the triceps at the back, and your deltoids at your shoulders.
Before you begin each workout, perform a 10- to 15-minute dynamic warm-up to increase blood flow and body temperature. This will improve your workout performance and also decrease your risk of injury. Do a few minutes of light aerobics like walking or jogging and then activities specific to your arms and shoulders such as arm swings. For your workout, choose one to two exercises for each your shoulders, biceps and triceps. Do two sets of 12 to 15 repetitions of each exercise, resting about 90 seconds in between each set. Start with a weight lower than you expect to use to allow your muscles to adapt to the load. Once you master the exercise form, progressively increase the weight you’re using. Movements should be slow and controlled.
Free-weight shoulder exercises appropriate for beginners include shoulder presses and lateral raises. To perform shoulder presses, stand or sit while holding a pair of dumbbells at your shoulders so your palms are facing forward and your elbows are lined up directly underneath your wrists. Push the weights overhead until your arms are fully extended and your hands finish over the top of your ears. Bend your elbows to lower the dumbbells back to where they started. For the lateral raise, stand and hold the dumbbells down by your sides with your palms facing inward. Keeping your elbows straight, lift your arms up and out to your sides until they’re parallel with the floor and then control them back down to your thighs.
For your biceps, perform biceps curl with either a pair of dumbbells or a barbell. Stand and hold the weight down in front of your thighs with your palms facing forward. If you’re using a barbell, grip the bar with your hands shoulder-width apart. Bend your elbows to bring the weight up to your shoulders. Slowly extend your elbows to lower the weight back down.
To target your triceps, do overhead triceps extensions and lying triceps extensions. The overhead triceps extension is done from a standing position and with a single dumbbell. Grab the dumbbell with both hands and hold it over your head with your arms fully extended. Bend your elbow to lower the dumbbell back behind your head and then extend your elbow to bring the weight back up. To perform the lying triceps extension, lie on your back on a bench while holding a dumbbell in each hand. Hold the weights over your chest with your arms straight and your palms facing each other. Bend your elbows to lower the weights on either side of your face and then extend them to lift the weights back up.
Kim Nunley has been screenwriting and working as an online health and fitness writer since 2005. She’s had multiple short screenplays produced and her feature scripts have placed at the Austin Film Festival. Prior to writing full-time, she worked as a strength coach, athletic coach and college instructor. She holds a master's degree in kinesiology from California State University, Fullerton.