If you want toned and sculpted arms like first lady Michelle Obama, you’ll have to pump some iron. Women gain muscle mass the same way men do, with heavier weights and fewer reps. Not only will you achieve a more chiseled look with weight training, but you’ll increase your strength and burn more calories at rest. So if you’re not happy with your spaghetti arms, start training like a guy and hit the weights.
You’ll want to hit all those muscles in your arms and surrounding the arms to get both a sculpted appearance and to avoid potential muscle imbalances. These muscles include the back, shoulders, chest, triceps, biceps and forearms. You can train these muscles with both free weights and machine exercises to build muscle quickly and efficiently.
You can perform several exercises using free weights. Free weights include equipment such as dumbbells and barbells. Choose exercises that target both arm muscles -- biceps and triceps -- plus the chest and back muscles. Biceps curls, triceps extensions, chest presses, shoulder presses and rows will target both the arm muscles and surrounding muscle groups.
Using gym machines to lift weights is another useful tool when sculpting the arm muscles. It can add variety to your workouts, giving you a break from free weights, and it’s also beneficial for those newbies working to perfect their form. Target the chest muscles with the butterfly machine (also known as the pec deck) and the triceps with the dip machine. You can focus on the biceps and forearms with the preacher curl machine and get a back workout with the leverage high row machine. Shoulders can be targeted with the shoulder press machine.
Choosing Your Weight
Knowing how much weight to lift during each exercise can be confusing, especially if you’re just starting out. To get rid of swizzle-stick arms, you’ll want to fatigue your muscles during each exercise. You don’t need countless sets and reps; one set of 12 reps with the proper weight can build major muscle, according to Mayoclinic.com. You’ll know it's enough weight if you can hardly complete that 12th rep. If you speed through your exercise without tiring, you need to increase the weight.
How many times per week you weight train is another component when building arm muscles. Give your arm muscles at least one full day to rest before performing additional weight training. Three days per week of weight training the upper body will yield optimal results and give your muscles time to rest and recuperate.
Add variety to your workout. Instead of choosing the same dumbbell and machine exercises every time, break up your routine every few weeks and add in different exercises. You should include two or three exercises per muscle group per workout to work those target muscles. To save time at the gym, include compound exercises. Compound exercises work more than one muscle group at the same time. A bench press, for example, works your chest, shoulders and triceps in one exercise, according to Bodybuilding.com.
Danielle Clark has been a writer since 2009, specializing in environmental and health and fitness topics. She has contributed to magazines and several online publications. Clark holds a Bachelor of Science in ecology and environmental science.