Muscle Movement Used for Strengthening the Upper Arms & Shoulders

By moving correctly through your strength exercises, you can get toned arms.

By moving correctly through your strength exercises, you can get toned arms.

To increase the strength and tone of your upper arms and shoulders, it is important to know which exercises to do. By focusing on exercises based on specific muscle movements, you can create an effective workout routine that will give you sexy, toned arms. Exercising movements can help you maintain balanced tone and strength in your arms.

Arm Flexion

Arm flexion is the movement that occurs when you bend your elbow and bring your hand toward your shoulder. An exercise that mimics this movement is the biceps curl. Choose a weight that will allow you to complete 12 repetitions at failure, and make sure to keep your elbow stuck to your ribcage when curling the weight. For a different take on arm flexion, rotate your hand so your palm faces down as you curl the weight up. This variation will not only increase biceps strength, but will also tone the forearms.

Arm Extension

Extension is the opposite motion as flexion, and thus extension occurs when you straighten your elbow against resistance. A triceps kickback exercise uses extension to tone your triceps muscles. Stand with a weight in one hand and bend forward at the waist. With your elbow bent up by your side, straighten your elbow, bringing the weight back toward your hip. Emphasize the elbow straightening by holding the shoulder in place; do not allow any extra motion to cheat to lift the weight. You can also try extensions overhead by bending your arm and pointing your elbow toward the ceiling, and straightening the elbow from there.

Shoulder Flexion

Flexion of the shoulder is better known as a straight arm raise in front of you. To make this a strength exercise, simply grasp a dumbbell in your hand, palm facing down, and raise the straight arm up and down in front of you 12 times. To maximize the toning benefit, try different angles in front of you. Sometimes raise the weight more to the outside, and sometimes more in front of your body. This movement is effective at increasing shoulder strength and tone, and can help you get your shoulders ready for that summertime sun on the beach.

Shoulder Abduction

Shoulder abduction is the movement in which your shoulder rotates upward so your arm is raised into the air. To use this motion to benefit your shoulder strength, hold dumbbells in both hands with the elbows bent 90 degrees and your arms up at your sides. Simply push the weights into the air, allowing your shoulders to rotate upward. This shoulder movement effectively strengthens all muscles within the shoulder joint. Make sure to lower the weights slowly as to not damage your shoulder joint. Always move with control.

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About the Author

Scotty Brunning is a Chicago-based health and fitness writer. Having worked with the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Cooper Fitness Center in Dallas, he has a plethora of fitness experience. He is an ACSM-certified health fitness specialist and a Cooper Institute master fitness specialist. Brunning holds a master's degree in health and fitness.

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