The Best Arm Workout for Women

(Article by Kari Fry with Hannah Groves)

We sat down with Personal Trainer and Study Active assessor Hannah Groves to get her thoughts on toning and strengthening your arms with focused arm exercises and targeted workouts.


IMPORTANT: The ideas in this article are purely for information only – please do not start an exercise programme until you have completed a PAR-Q and, if necessary, received medical clearance. Always warm up and cool down and never do any exercise that you are unsure of without the support of a qualified professional.

To start us off, what benefits are there for women to include arm exercises in their workout routine?

Muscle burns more calories than fat so having strong and toned arms can help manage weight. Incorporating arm exercises can strengthen the connective tissue in the elbows, shoulders, neck, spine, wrists, and hands. This will improve joint integrity, stability, help with everyday tasks and help prevent injury.  Another big benefit of arm exercises is a strong, well-balanced physique and, for those women with young babies or toddlers, they will certainly benefit from this, especially when carrying them around!

So, what areas/muscle groups should you target for toned arms?

To achieve toned arms, you need to work the biceps, triceps, and shoulders. It would also be good idea to incorporate chest and back exercises.

The best exercises that I would recommend would be –

  • Lateral raises
  • Push-ups
  • Tricep overhead extension
  • Bicep curls
  • Tricep dips
  • Hammer curls
  • Dumbbell row
  • Bench press

There really are lots of exercises that can be included in your workout routine!

What weights would you recommend using for arm exercises?

I would suggest a pair of dumbbells for arm exercises as you can perform various exercises with dumbbells between the weight of 4-8kg or as appropriate. However, if dumbbells are not available then a kettlebell can be just as effective, check with a qualified PT if this is new to you.

Can you talk us through some of the best arm and upper arm exercises for women?

In my opinion without a doubt, lateral raises would be the best arm and upper arm exercise for women. This exercise mainly involves lifting weights out and away from your body, forming a ‘T’ shape at your shoulders. Another good exercise is tricep dips which can be performed in a gym setting or at home as you only require a bench! Tricep dips strengthen your triceps, pecs and core a tremendous amount. Tricep dips can also help balance out your arms if you tend to focus more on the muscle you can actually see in the mirror!

Are there any arm workouts for women at the gym they could focus on? Perhaps, using equipment they might not have access to at home.

A cable tricep extension would be a great exercise to perform in a gym to target the arms. Using a rowing machine is also a great way to get cardio in and tone the arms at the same time. Other resistance exercises would be a barbell bicep curl, dumbbell hammer curls and a cable bicep curl. There are so many exercises women can choose from to tone their arms, these are just a few.

What might building an arm day workout look like?

You should work major muscle groups 2-3 times per week. You may start by choosing a moderate weight that you can lift 12-20 times and aim for 2-3 sets. This can obviously be progressed with the guidance of a qualified personal trainer.

It is important to ensure that your nutrition is right to tone and build muscle, and protein is needed. Ideally 45 grams of protein per day for the average female! This can come from sources like meat, fish, eggs, beans, and lentils.

Summary - Arm Workout for Women

Thank you, Hannah for sharing your thoughts on the best exercises for women wanting to achieve results with their arm workouts. You’ve given us lots of great exercise suggestions that can be utilised at home or in the gym to help achieve women achieve their fitness goals and tailor their workouts to tone and strengthen their arms.

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