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6 Exercises for Strong, Lean Arms

6 Moves for Lean Arms

So you go to the gym twice a week, hit the weights a bit, do some cardio and crunches, and on your off days yoga does the trick. But you look the same as you did a year ago — what gives? Turns out, the key to unlocking strength and tone is finding exercises that recruit a large amount of muscle fiber. For stronger, more visibly defined arms, try throwing these moves into the weightlifting portion of your workout for the next eight weeks, and watch your arms go from good to amazing!

The Workout

Chin-Ups

Photo by Eric LaCour

1. Dead-Hang Chin-up
Grasp a pull-up bar with an underhand, shoulder-width grip. Pull your shoulder blades down towards your tailbone and draw them in towards your spine (a). Pull yourself up so that your collarbone is in line with the pull-up bar (b). Take four seconds to lower yourself down to the starting position, keeping the shoulders down and back throughout. That’s one rep. NOTE: If you cannot pull yourself up, loop an exercise band around the pull-up bar and place your knee in it to decrease the level of difficulty.
Sets: 3, Reps: As many as possible, Rest: 120 seconds between sets

2. Zottman Curl
Grasp a pair of dumbbells and hold them at your sides, palms facing inwards (a). Curl the weights up, turning your hands so that your palms face you (b). At the top of the motion, turn your hands so that the palms face away from you and take three seconds to lower the weights. That’s one rep.
Sets: 3, Reps: 8-12, Rest: 90 seconds between sets

Bicep Curl

Photo by Eric LaCour

3. EZ-Bar Drag Curl
Grasp the two handles of a resistance band with palms facing in, standing on the midpoint of the band (a). Pull your elbows back as you perform a bicep curl, as if dragging a bar along the front of your body, shoulders down and back throughout, until your hands reach your breastbone (b). Hold the position for one second, then take three seconds to lower yourself back to the starting position. That’s one rep.
Sets: 3, Reps: 8-12, Rest: 120 seconds between sets

4. Neutral-Grip Tricep Extension
Attach a rope attachment to the high pulley of a cable cross machine. Grasp the rope with two hands (one on each end) and hold the knobs at the bottom together. Push your hips back slightly and pull your elbows down towards your sides so that your upper arms are parallel to the floor and there is a 90-degree bend in your elbows (a). Without moving your upper arms, extend your arms until completely straight, and slowly return to the 90-degree bend in your elbows (b).
Sets: 4. Reps: 12-15. Rest: 60 seconds between sets.

Tricep Kickback

Photo by Eric LaCour

5. Tricep Kickback
Grasp one end of a resistance band in your right hand and place your left hand on your hip with feet staggered, right leg back, so that you can bring your torso nearly parallel to the floor. Row the band up until your upper arm is in line with your torso; this is the start position (a). Push the band back so that your arm is totally straight, then lift the entire arm up so it is at a 10-degree angle to your torso (b). Slowly return to the start position. Repeat on the opposite side.
Sets: 4, Reps: 12-15, Rest: 90 seconds between sets

6. EZ-Bar Lying Tricep Extension
Grasp an EZ bar on the outside grips and lie face up on a bench. Press the bar over your chest. With the arms still straight, allow them to come back a bit so that your upper arms are slightly past perpendicular to your torso (a). From this position, slowly allow your elbows to bend, keeping the upper arms completely still, until the bar touches the top of your head (b). Return to the start position.
Sets: 3, Reps: 10-12, Rest: 120 seconds between sets

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