Firm and toned upper arms can make the difference between a fit upper body and a flabby one. According to the American Council on Exercise, strength training defines, tones and improves muscular strength and endurance. For the best results, do resistance training on nonconsecutive days and perform high reps with limited rest between sets for a calorie-burning boost. If you are new to exercise or have a medical condition, consult a physician before beginning a new routine.
The Triceps Dip
The triceps muscle runs up the back of the arm from the elbow to the shoulder. Although many triceps exercises require dumbbells, you can isolate the muscle using only your body weight by performing dips. Sit on the edge of a bench and place your palms face down on the edge, extend your legs, and lift yourself up. Keep your shoulders away from your ears and tuck your abdominal muscles. Lower yourself until your elbows come to a 90-degree bend and exhale as you push yourself up. Do not let your back wander far from the bench -- this can damage your shoulders. Attempt up to 14 additional repetitions; make endurance gains by performing additional sets before the muscle completely recovers -- rest for 30 seconds, and do two additional sets.
The Tabata Curl
Tabata curls work the biceps muscles, which lie on the front of the arms from the elbow to the shoulder -- and the fast four-minute interval burns fat and calories while keeping you engaged during a motion that many find boring. Stand straight, with your legs together, your abs and glutes tucked and your knees slightly bent. Hold one dumbbell in each hand, with your palms facing out and your elbows close to your sides, and curl the weight upward toward your shoulder without bending your wrists. Perform as many biceps curls as you can for 20 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds. Repeat this 20-10 interval seven additional times.
The Shoulder Press
Well-defined deltoids make the biceps and triceps look firmer as they provide a teardrop shape to the upper arm. Shoulder presses work the front, medial and rear deltoids and triceps while limiting risk to the rotator cuff, a common shoulder-related injury. Standing in the same upright position, hold the dumbbells at shoulder height with your elbows at your sides and your palms facing forward; exhale as you push the weights straight up until your arms are straight. Lower them until your elbows are in line with your shoulders, at a 90-degree bend. Perform 14 additional repetitions, rest for 30 seconds, and do two more sets.
The pushup works the chest, abs and glutes in addition to the arms and shoulders. Place your hands under your shoulders and extend your body until it is in a straight plank position with your toes on the ground. Keep your abs and glutes tightened and neither raised nor lowered. Lower yourself until your nose nearly touches the ground and exhale as you push yourself back up through the outsides of your palms. If you cannot go very low or you find the move too difficult, drop to your knees but maintain tight glutes and abs. Perform nine additional repetitions, rest for 30 seconds, and do two more sets; when you can perform three sets of 10 pushups without difficulty, add more reps.
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Lisa Bigelow is an independent writer with prior professional experience in the finance and fitness industries. She also writes a well-regarded political commentary column published in Fairfield, New Haven and Westchester counties in the New York City metro area.