A pair of dumbbells and strategic workout schedule -- that's all you need to get started on a regimen to strengthen and tone your arms. What your workout schedule will look like depends on your goals. If you wish to build strength, your routine will look different than if you’re interested in getting some muscle definition. The biceps, at the front of your arms, and the triceps, at the back of your arms, can easily be targeted with the same workout.
Work out for the appropriate number of times per week. If your goal is to build muscle definition and get your arms toned, schedule two days of workouts per week. If you want to build strength in your upper arms, schedule three workouts per week.
Schedule the appropriate number of rest days in between workouts. If you're training for tone, your biceps and triceps are going to be exhausted after your workout, so give them two days of rest in between sessions. If training for strength, just one day of rest in between workouts is ideal.
Complete the right number of exercises, sets and repetitions. When training for tone, choose three to four exercises that target your biceps, and three to four for your triceps. Do three to five sets of eight to 20 repetitions of each of those exercises. For strength, pick two to three exercises each for your biceps and triceps and do each exercise at a volume of three sets of six or fewer repetitions.
Complete dumbbell biceps curl and barbell biceps curl using the correct technique. Stand and hold the weight down in front of your thighs with your palms facing forward. Keep your elbows turned into your torso as you bend your arms and bring the weights up to your shoulders. Finish by extending your elbows to control the weight while lowering.
Perform the hammer curl with correct technique. Hammer curls are just like dumbbell biceps curls, except you hold your hands in a neutral position. Instead of your palms facing forward, they face in toward each other.
Complete an incline curl during each session. An incline curl is done while leaning back on a reclined bench. With your arms hanging down toward the floor, bend your elbows to bring the weights up to your shoulders before extending your arms to return to starting position.
Complete lying triceps extension with the proper technique. Lie on your back on a flat bench. Hold the dumbbells up toward the ceiling with your arms extended and palms facing each other. Bend your elbows to lower the dumbbells on either side of your face and then straighten them again.
Include overhead triceps extensions during each workout. From a standing position, with the dumbbells over your head with arms straight, bend your elbows to lower the weights behind your head and then return to starting position.
Perform kickbacks with the correct technique. Kneel over a bench with one arm supporting you so that your back is parallel to the bench. The other arm, with a single dumbbell in hand, is held up against your torso so that the upper arm is parallel to the floor and the elbow’s bent to 90 degrees. Extend the elbow to straighten your arm and then bend it back to starting position. Remember to switch sides.
- When training for tone, give your muscles just 60 to 90 seconds of rest in between sets. During strength workouts, give the muscles three to five minutes.
- Visit a medical professional prior to starting any exercise program.
- A spotter is recommended when performing weight training exercises that involve holding weights overhead, such as in overhead and lying triceps extension.
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.