Lean Arm Workouts

Choose weights that are not too heavy or too light.

Choose weights that are not too heavy or too light.

To sculpt lean, toned arms, you must perform exercises that strengthen your arm muscles without adding bulk. While increasing the size of your arm muscles involves using heavy weights to increase muscle mass, sculpting lean arms is accomplished by using your body's resistance or light weights to perform multiple sets of repetitive, strength-building movements. To effectively sculpt lean arms, you must isolate the muscle or group of muscles you want to develop. This causes you to put more focus on the arm muscles being worked, which improves your form and yields quicker results.


Pushups require no equipment, and you perform them by using your arms to raise and lower your body from the floor while in a plank position. Pushups build the deltoid muscles that surround your shoulders and the pectoral muscles in your chest, and they also help to sculpt lean arms by working the triceps, the group of muscles that extends from the back of your arm to your elbow. Your arms must support your body's weight during pushups, so start slowly if you don't have a lot of arm strength to prevent muscle strain or injury. Perform one to three 12-repetition sets of pushups each day, and increase the number of reps you do weekly to build strong arms that are lean.

Biceps Curls

Biceps curls work the brachii muscles in the front of your arms. To do a biceps curl, stand upright or sit on a sturdy surface and grab a dumbbell using an underhand grip. Extend your arm, keeping your elbow slightly bent, to get into the starting position. Curl the dumbbell up toward your shoulder, and slowly lower it to the starting position. Avoid using heavy weights when performing biceps curls since they promote an increase in muscle mass. To build lean muscles, use dumbbells that are 20 pounds or less. You can also use a lightweight barbell to work both arms at once or resistance bands to do biceps curls without weights. These lightweight elastic ropes use your body's resistance to sculpt lean muscles without adding bulk. Do three to eight 12-repetition sets of biceps curls at least three times weekly for lean, sculpted arms.

Bench Dips

Bench dips are also known as triceps dips because they work the triceps muscles effectively. You can do this exercise using the side of a weight bench or any firm, horizontal surface, including a park bench, coffee table or chair. To do this exercise, you must sit on the edge of a bench, placing the palms of your hands as close to your hips as possible. With your legs extended and your knees slightly bent, take one step forward to remove your bottom from the bench, and lower and raise your hips by bending your elbows to a 90-degree angle and extending your elbows until your bottom is parallel to the bench's surface. Perform three 15-repetition sets of bench dips at least twice weekly to build lean triceps muscles.

Bench Press

Bench presses work the triceps, pectorals and deltoids. To do a bench press, lie on a bench with your eyes directly below the barbell and your feet flat on the floor. Grip the barbell with your palms facing forward, and lift it from the rack, slowly lowering it toward your chest. Raise the barbell until your arms almost extend fully, and slowly lower the barbell back toward your chest. To sculpt lean, toned arms with this exercise, use weights that are heavy enough to build strength, yet comfortable enough for you to perform multiple repetitions. To place more emphasis on your triceps, use a close-grip bench press, which allows you to perform this exercise with your arms close together. This shifts the emphasis from your chest and shoulders to your arms. Perform five to 10 12-repetition sets of bench presses using a barbell weighing 50 pounds or less to build lean triceps muscles.

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About the Author

Before starting her writing career, Tanya Brown worked as an eighth-grade language arts teacher. She also has a background in nursing, with extensive experience in urology, neurology and neurosurgery clinics. Brown holds a bachelor's degree in psychology and is pursuing her master’s degree in educational psychology.

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