Want to live every day like it’s #FlexFriday? Of course you do! But it can be frustrating to crank out endless bicep curls or tricep dips without seeing results. Believe it or not, getting the leaned, toned arms you’ve been longing for isn’t impossible — as long as you ditch those static movements and vary up your routine. By working out in a way that challenges your muscles from different angles, you’ll work the entire circumference of your arm. “You may get a more chiseled look, because you are working all of the different muscles instead of that one little line in the back [the triceps] and a little bit of bulk in the bicep,” says DailyBurn Fitness/Nutrition Coach Sarah Snyder.
And while we’re debunking muscle myths, here’s another mistake we know we’re all guilty of: You’re standing in front of the mirror, carefully concentrating on the upward motion of that bicep curl — before flopping the weight back down before your next rep. Reality is, it’s important to focus on both the up and down (or concentric and eccentric) portions of each move. “If you’re slowly lowering, you’re working on stability, the deep muscles, as well as recruiting more muscle fibers,” Snyder says.
Ready to ditch your old routine? These six exercises demoed by Snyder (yup, she’s pregnant!) will give you that all-over sculpted look you’re looking for — and all you need is a set of dumbbells. (No clue what size weight to choose? Check out this handy guide.) Do this routine two times a week — you can even squeeze it in before or after your next 30-minute cardio workout. Then, get ready to show off your guns with your next sweaty selfie.
6 Better Moves for an Awesome Triceps and Biceps Workout
1. Dumbbell Floor Press with Glute Bridge
This compound exercise strengthens your chest and triceps, while firing up all three major muscles that make up your glutes.
Targets: Triceps, chest, shoulders, core, glutes
How to: Lay on the floor holding dumbbells in your hands. Keeping feet flat on the floor with knees bent, raise hips. Begin with the weights fully extended above you, palms facing one another (a). Lower the weights towards your shoulders until your upper arms come in contact with the floor. Hold for one count (b). Next, raise dumbbells back to starting position by extending through the elbows (c). Complete three sets of 15 reps with 60 seconds rest between sets.
2. Bicep Curl with Static Hold
Want to take your average bicep curl to the next level? The addition of the static hold on the opposite arm ensures you’re building muscle endurance as well as strength.
Targets: Biceps, forearms
How to: Stand up straight with a dumbbell in each hand at arm’s length, palms of your hands facing forward (a). Raise right dumbbell so that the elbow is flexed at a 90-degree angle (b). Then, curl left dumbbell to left shoulder. Pause, and then slowly lower the weight back to your side (c). Complete all lifting reps for one side while keeping the 90-degree static hold throughout (d). Repeat for two sets of eight reps on each side.
3. Side Lying Triceps Push-Ups
Swap your tricep dips for these side push-ups. The push motion specifically targets the smaller arm muscles, but also activates your obliques to sculpt those unwanted love handles.
Targets: Triceps, biceps, obliques
How to: Lie on your left side (rolled towel or mat under hip) with your legs straight and staggered (bottom leg forward), feet flexed (a). Bring left hand to right shoulder, place right hand flat on the floor in front of your left shoulder, elbows bent to 90-degrees (b). Push up to straighten your right elbow, pushing your torso away from the floor while keeping core tight (c). Then, slowly lower back to starting position (d). Perform two sets of 15 reps on each side.
4. Push-Up Hammer Curls
Want to work your way to a woman or man maker exercise? This move tests your stability and core strength as you adjust your weight to perform a curl.
Targets: Biceps, triceps, shoulders, core
How to: Step back into plank position, feet wide, hands on dumbbells under shoulders (a). Engage core to lock hips in place (b). Curl right hand dumbbell toward your right shoulder, slowly lower (c). Repeat left side (d). Perform 20 each side.
RELATED: 5 Plank Exercises to Get Hardcore
5. Standing Dumbbell Triceps Extension
If you think your triceps are the only thing that’s getting love in this exercise, think again. Anytime you add weight overhead, you engage your core to keep your spine neutral and prevent overarching.
Targets: Triceps, core
How to: Stand up with a dumbbell held by both hands, feet shoulder-width apart (a). Gasping the dumbbell with both hands, lift it overhead sp both arms are fully extended, palms of hands facing up towards the ceiling (b). While keeping your biceps next to your ears and elbows stable, lower the resistance in a semicircular motion behind your head until your forearms touch your biceps (c). Return to starting position by using the triceps to raise the dumbbell (d). Perform 4 slow reps, followed by 8 quicker paced reps; repeat 2 times.
6. Crazy 8’s
You’ll cover different all ranges of motion in this challenging biceps exercise. From partial to full extension, you’ll challenge your arm muscles in new ways.
Targets: Biceps, forearms, core
How to: Stand up straight with a dumbbell in each hand at arm’s length, palms of your hands face forward (a). Raise both arms halfway so that elbows are bent at 90-degrees, lower and repeat for 8 counts (b). Then position arms so that your elbows are bent at 90-degrees and raise both dumbbells to shoulders, lower and repeat for 8 more counts (c). Finally, return arms fully extended down at sides and raise both dumbbells the full range of motion to shoulders and lower for the final 8 counts (d). Repeat sequence 2 times with 60 seconds rest between sets.
Originally published November 2016. Updated February 2018.