Strong, toned arms don't require a gym or exercise studio membership. There are plenty of options right at home for sculpting the arms, and these exercises can be performed as your schedule permits, which removes any potential stress about squeezing in time to drive to another location. Simple items and areas around the house are perfect for strengthening the arms. Use these guidelines as a platform to build your own customized workout routine that is uniquely yours and that matches your individual fitness goals.
The Gold Standard: The Pushup
The beauty of the pushup is that it can be done practically anywhere -- all you need is enough floor space to accommodate an exercise mat. Pushups tone the entire arm region, including the biceps, triceps, deltoids and forearms. If you are embarking on a fitness program for the first time, consider starting with a modified knee pushup instead of a full-body pushup. Once you can comfortably do the knee pushup while maintaining good form and moving through the exercise in a steady, metered manner (don't forget to breathe), try a few full-body pushups and go from there. One way to make the pushup more effective is to tighten your abdominal muscles; doing so stabilizes the entire body. This technique is popular in exercise programs such as Pilates.
Dumbbells for the Triceps
Dumbbells are a smart investment for your home gym. They are inexpensive and easy to find. Look for varying weights so you can use a heavier dumbbell as you get stronger. The triceps extension performed with a dumbbell is a fast-track move for sleek arms. Lie on your back and hold a dumbbell in your hand. Raise your arm and hold it straight above your body. Slowly bend your elbow to 90 degrees and then straighten your arm. Repeat with your other arm. Be careful to keep the movement steady and deliberate. Avoid swinging your arm and breathe deeply with each rep.
Target your biceps using dumbbells or even cans of food from your pantry. If you don't have dumbbells, use cans of beans, for example. If you have dumbbells, choose a weight that works the muscle but doesn't strain it. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold a can or dumbbell in each hand. Allow both arms to hang straight at your sides. Bend your elbows to 90 degrees and give the biceps a little squeeze at the top of the rep. Lower your arms slowly and be careful not to swing your arms or body in an attempt to make the exercise easier; if you find this happening, simply lower the weight and build up as your arms get stronger.
Listen to Your Body
Working out at home has undeniable benefits -- you can do it in your pajamas, for example. What you might miss is having the eyes of a trained instructor watching you do your moves and correcting you as needed. For this reason, be extra-vigilant with your body's cues. If you feel tension or strain in your arms, take a break and stretch. If pain continues, see your doctor or physical therapist before going back to your routine.
- The Anatomy of Pilates; Paul Massey
- MayoClinic.com: Weight Training Exercises -- Triceps Extension
- MayoClinic.com: Weight Training Exercises -- Biceps Curl With Dumbbell
- Teaching Pilates for Postural Faults, Illness & Injury; Jane Paterson
Michelle Kodis has been a writer and editor for more than two decades. She holds a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University, is the author of nine books and has contributed articles to various magazines, newspapers and blogs. She is also a certified Pilates instructor and studies canine therapeutic massage/acupressure.