Women can successfully tone the muscles in their arms by consistently participating in high volume weight training. High volume means that the workout consists of a relatively higher number of exercises, sets and repetitions. To focus on the arms, women should complete exercises that target the major muscles in the arms. This includes the deltoids, or shoulders, and the biceps and triceps. Although women naturally have lower levels of testosterone and growth hormone, they can still see significant increases in muscular tone if they follow a workout program designed to stimulate muscle growth.
Complete your arm weight training workout two days per week with two days of rest in between. Because your workouts will be high volume, you will need to allow your muscles 72 hours of rest in between sessions. Train on Mondays and Thursdays or Tuesdays and Fridays.
Perform each exercise at a volume of three to six sets of six to 12 repetitions. This is the volume recommended by the National Strength and Conditioning Association’s Dr. Helen M. Binkley to stimulate increases in muscle tone.
Perform shoulder presses, lateral raises and upright rows during each workout to overload your shoulder muscles. To complete the shoulder press, hold a pair of dumbbells at your shoulders and push them up toward the ceiling until your arms are fully extended before controlling them back down to the starting position. For lateral raises, hold a pair of dumbbells down by your sides and raise your arms up and out until they become parallel with the floor, and then control them back down. To complete upright rows, hold a pair of dumbbells down in front of you with palms facing inward. Pull the weights up toward your chin by bending your elbows and allowing them to flare out. Once the weights reach the height of your clavicle, control them back down.
Incorporate dumbbell biceps curls and barbell biceps curls into your workout regimen to tone your biceps. During barbell biceps curls, grip the bar with your hands shoulder-width apart. To complete both exercises, hold the weights down in front of you with your palms facing forward. Keep your elbows into your torso as you bend them and bring the weight up toward your shoulders, and then control them back down to starting position.
Complete dumbbell overhead triceps extensions and bench dips to target your triceps. To complete dumbbell overhead triceps extensions, hold a single dumbbell with both hands over your head with extended arms. Bend your elbows to lower the weight behind your head and then extend the elbows to return the weight back to the starting position. For bench dips, sit perpendicular on a bench and place your hands on the edge of the bench just by your hips. With your legs extended out in front of you, place your weight onto your hands and slide your hips forward so they clear the bench. Bend your elbows to lower your hips down toward the floor. Once your elbows bend 90 degrees, extend them to bring your hips back up.
- Women are often fearful of using heavier weights. For those exercises that incorporate dumbbells or a barbell, it’s important that women use an appropriate amount of weight. Muscles should be exhausted at the end of each set and it should be a challenge to complete the final repetitions. If you’re able to complete 12 or more repetitions, choose a heavier weight.
- Recruit a spotter when performing shoulder presses to lower your risk of injury. A spotter will stand by your side and assist you if you start to lose control of the weights over your head.
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.