The Best Exercises to Get Toned Arms

Toned arms. Whether you're at a wedding, a summer BBQ, the beach, or just the grocery store, you can spot lean and lovely arms from a mile away.

Vanity aside, it's also an incredible feeling to be strong and powerful. To be able to carry your children in both arms, bags of groceries, put your luggage in the overhead on a flight, etc. 

You can absolutely get toned and strong arms. It comes down to two things:

  1. Train smart to build muscle. Follow a focused training program specifically designed to target all the right muscle groups giving you that defined look.
  2. Lose body fat. For your muscle to show, you need to drop your overall body fat. Body fat doesn't mean waiting for the number on the scale drop. It means maintaining and building your lean mass (muscle, bone, organs, tissues, etc.), while blasting the fat stores in your body. This will drastically improve your health and body shape. Eating better helps to lower your body fat and support lean muscle mass for incredible arms. Eat whole unprocessed foods, mostly lean proteins and vegetables. To find out exactly what I eat every day, read this post

"But I don't want to get big & bulky". Busting the myth.

Visit the weight room at any commercial gym and you'll see 40 guys and only about 3 women. Step into the cardio section and you'll find the reverse. Women avoid weight training in fear of becoming "bulky".

Women don't have nearly the same amount of anabolic hormones as men in order to build muscle. Female bodybuilders and athletes work hard for years and years to develop their muscle and for optimal performance.

You will only get bulky if:

a) You don't eat well. Pizza, donuts, pasta, bagels, cupcakes, burritos, you name it, are a regular occurrence in your diet. When you eat a caloric surplus and/or processed foods, your body stores fat around the muscle creating that bulky look. Muscle on the other hand, is much more compact than fat, giving you a tighter fitter appearance.
b) Genetics. Some women are blessed with a more athletic body and an ability to put on muscle mass more easily. It's important to embrace and love your body and find the type of training that works best for you.
c) You train to get "bulky". Bulky should not be a negative term. Most women with any noticeable amount of muscle worked incredibly hard to get there. They had the discipline to follow a training and nutrition protocol in order to build muscle size. However, you can still lift weights and look completely different.

your workout for toned arms

toned arms.jpg

This workout is perfect for hitting all the right muscles to build a great set of sculpted and strong arms. It starts with complex exercises that help to build muscle, finishing with isolation movements for definition.

"Toned" is muscle in the absence of body fat. You will need to workout with the intention of building some muscle. If you lose weight but don't build any muscle, you will be left with skinny but soft and shapeless arms. 

Select a weight that allows you to use proper form and technique for the full number of repetitions. Focus on squeezing and really feeling the muscles working. If you need help on form, invest in a trainer to teach you the basics. Below are exercise descriptions to get you started. Try doing this workout twice per week.

Exercise Descriptions

Pull-up: Grab a bar with your hands just outside shoulder-width and palms facing away from you. Hang all the way down, pull your shoulders back and down and bring your chin above the bar, focusing on your back and bicep muscles. Pause at the top and slowly lower yourself all the way down to the starting position. If you can't do a pull-up, use an assisted machine or hang a resistance band from a bar for assistance. 
Close grip push-up: Get on your toes (or knees if needed) and place your hands just below your shoulders with abs braced and glutes tight. Slowly lower your chest between your hands keeping your elbows tucked to your sides until your elbows reach 90 degrees or your chest hits the ground. Control your body back to the starting position.
Seated shoulder press: With your abs braced, glutes tight, and ribs down, start with your elbows bent to 90 degrees and the dumbbells positioned directly above your elbows, palms facing away from you. Push the weights overhead until your elbows are locked directly over your shoulders.
Seated row: With chest up and abs braced and palms facing each other, pull your shoulders back and down. Initiate the movement by squeezing your shoulder blades together and then drive your elbows back until the handle is at your torso. Control the weight back to the starting position.
Tricep cable pressdowns with rope: Stand with your back straight and elbows tucked into your sides and bent at 90 degrees. Pull the rope down while also pulling it apart until your hands are on the outside of your thighs. Squeeze your triceps at the bottom and then slowly control the weight back to the starting position.
Dumbbell reverse flyes: Hinge at the hip with a neutral spine or lie face down on an incline bench. Have the weights in each hand with the palms facing each other. Keeping your abs braced, shoulders away from your ears and elbows slightly bent, move only through your shoulder until your arms are parallel to the floor. Squeeze your shoulder blades and then slowly lower the weights back to the starting position.
Dumbbell side lateral raises: With abs braced, back straight and elbows slightly bent, push the weights until your arms are at shoulder height or parallel to the floor. Slowly lower back to the starting position.


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