You’ve probably cranked out a bunch of bicep curls and triceps kickbacks throughout your days at the gym. And while these moves work great for building muscles in your upper body, a few creative takes on your typical arm workout will help you carve even better results. That’s especially true if the exercises mix a few movements into one, so you work more muscles simultaneously (that means you’ll burn more calories, too). Enter: These eight creative arm exercises you probably haven’t tried before.
When you say you want sculpted bis, tris, shoulders and back muscles — we say master these moves. Flex it out with this ultimate upper body workout.
8 Arm Exercises for a Better Upper Body Workout
Perform each exercise below, in order, for 30 seconds each. Try to eliminate rest time between each move. After the eighth exercise, take a 60-second breather, then repeat two more times. To really intensify the strengthening power, pick up a pair of dumbbells. Soon you’ll want to bare those arms all the time.
1. Bicep Curl in Stationary Bear Crawl
Show off your guns by working your biceps (the front of your arm) from a different angle than the standard palm-forward posture. While you do it, you’ll be chiseling your core thanks to the stability-testing stance.
How to: Start on your hands and knees, wrists under shoulders and knees under hips (a). Lift your knees an inch or two off the ground and hold them there, back flat and abs tight (b). Turning your palm up and elbow out to the side, bend your right elbow, curling your hand up to your chest. Your right arm should be perpendicular to your left (c). Place your right hand back down and repeat on the left side (d). Continue alternating.
2. Tricep Chop
You’ll strengthen the back of your arms, aka your triceps, as you perfect this rotational chop. Consider your obliques toned, too.
How to: Start standing with feet hip-width apart, slight bend in your knees (a). Clasp your hands together (or hold a dumbbell on both sides) and bring them to your left side, turning your shoulders and head to the left. Your hips should stay facing forward (b). Then, swiftly move your hands overhead, straightening your arms (c). Bend at the elbows to bring your hands behind your head. Keep your elbows squeezing in close to your ears (d). Straighten your arms back overhead (e). Next, bring your hands down to your right side, twisting your upper body to the right (f). Return to the tricep extension and repeat, as you continue alternating sides for the chop.
3. Hinged Front Raise to Reverse Fly
Welcome a chiseled back and shoulders with this two-for-one move. Switching between the duo of exercises fires up multiples muscles, so your entire upper body benefits.
How to: Start standing with feet hip-width apart, slight bend in your knees (a). With palms facing your sides and elbows straight, lift your hands straight up so they’re in line with your ears (b). Return them back down in front of you (c). Then, with palms facing each other, lift your hands out to the sides with a slight bend in your elbows — it should feel like you’re holding a big beach ball (d) Return them down in front of you (e). Continue alternating between raises and flyes.
4. Bicep Curl to Throw
Combining an upper body and lower body move in this exercise, you’ll work your biceps, legs, butt and even your abs. Don’t forget to put some power behind your over-the-shoulder throw and pick up those weights to enhance the arm challenge.
How to: Start standing with feet hip-width apart (a). Squat down and simultaneously bring your hands up to your shoulders to perform a bicep curl (b). As you stand back up, bring your hands back down (c). Then, step back with your right foot to perform a reverse lunge. At the same time, bend your elbows and bring your arms to your left shoulder, like you’re throwing something behind you (d). Return to start and repeat the squat and curl (e). Then perform the lunge and throw on the other side (f). Continue alternating with the squat and curl between each lunge and throw.
5. Arnold Press
Your shoulders never looked so good — or felt so strong. This targets all sides of your deltoids, as well as your triceps.
How to: Start standing with feet hip-width apart, slight bend in the knees. Bend your elbows 90 degrees, and bring them up in line with your shoulders, elbows and fists touching (a). Open your arms so palms face forward and elbows come out to the sides (b). Then, press your arms up overhead as your straighten your elbows (c). Bring your arms back down to shoulder height, then close them back in front of your face the same way you started (c). Repeat.
6. Hinged Side Rotation
Here’s another shoulder strengthener that also involves your upper back. Plus, you’ll get your midsection working to protect your spine as you rotate. In other words, this is an exercise made for you to rock a sleeveless top with confidence.
How to: Start standing with feet hip-width apart, slight bend in the knees. Hinge forward at the hips so you’re at least at a 45-degree angle (a). Starting with your arms straight down in front of you, pull your left elbow up (keeping your hand close to your body), as you rotate and open up to the left (b). Return to start (c). Repeat on your right side and continue alternating.
7. Straight Arm Lift Sequence
You probably don’t need weights to feel the burn during this multi-move sequence that’ll last a full 60 seconds. But it’s never a bad idea to up the ante of your arm workout, so go ahead and grab ‘em.
How to: Start in a sumo squat position, feet a few steps farther than hip-width apart, toes pointed on a 45-degree angle and knees bent about 90 degrees (a). With your arms straight, lift them to shoulder height and pulse upward from there for 15 seconds (b). Then, perform small circles backward for 15 seconds, keeping your arms straight out to the sides at shoulder height (c). For the next 15 seconds, switch the direction of the circles so your arms move forward (d). Finally, keeping your arms straight and at shoulder height, bring your hands together in front of you and then back out to the sides (shown above). Your palms should face upward the entire time (e).
8. Bent Over Wide Row to Lat Pull Down
Talk about an exercise that blends several exercises into one. You’ll strengthen almost every muscle of your upper body, including your lats, biceps, triceps, delts, rhomboids and traps (even more so if you’re holding dumbbells). Hello, tank tops!
How to: Start standing with feet hip-width apart, slight bend in the knees. Hinge at the hips to create a 45-degree angle with your upper body (a). With palms facing you and arms starting straight, pull your elbows up, hitting a 90-degree angle. Elbows should reach shoulder height (b). Then, flip your elbows down so your hands point slightly upward (c). Next, straighten your arms out so they reach a diagonal, with elbows by your ears (d). Then, go back down the way you came, pulling your elbows back and shoulder blades together, flipping your elbows back up and straightening your arms back down (e). Repeat.
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