The Best Arm Workouts To Tone Your Upper Body Fast [For Men & Women]

Who doesn't like a nice set of arms?

It isn't uncommon for arms to be voted as the most attractive body part in men, and many women want to tone their arms for the beach or for their weddings.

Most people agree that toned arms look good. 

Unfortunately, everyone thinks they know the secret to developing great arms, but they are often wrong.  

Hint: The answer is not endless bicep curls!

Today, we are going to cover the best arm workouts to tone and develop your upper body.



Welcome to the WCT bodybuilding series. Over the next few posts we go over the best ways to build and define the body parts you find most attractive.

In Part 2: The Best Glute Exercises of All Time, we go over the exercises to develop your bum, which is often regarded as one of the most important muscles in your entire body.

In Part 3: The Best Leg Exercises To Develop A Strong Lower Body, we break down the individual components of the leg musculature, and how to maximize each one of their functions.

In Part 4: The 15 Best Back Exercises Of All Time, we cover the most effective exercises that strengthen, tone, and develop one of the most forgotten muscle groups in the fitness industry.


Today, its all about the arms.

Today's post is going to cover:

  • The Anatomy of Arm Muscles

  • How Fast You Can Expect to Develop Arm Muscles

  • Arm Workouts At Home Without Weights

  • Arm Workouts with Dumbbells

  • Arm Workouts for Women

  • Sample Arm Workout Routine



The Anatomy of Arm Muscles

Whenever people think of the arm muscles, they generally think of the biceps.

What would you do if I asked you to flex your muscles? You probably will go into the usual bicep curl position. 

What most people don't realize is that the bicep is only one of the components that make up this muscle group.

Let's go over a quick anatomy lesson. 


The arms are composed of the

- Biceps Brachii

- Brachialis

- Triceps Brachii

- The Forearm

  • Brachioradialis
  • Pronator Teres
  • A lot of Extensors and Flexors

- Deltoids




Origin/Insertion: The biceps brachii muscle attaches the front of your shoulder to your elbow. 

Function: Flexion of the elbow, and supination.



Origin/Insertion: The brachialis attaches the lower arm to your elbow. It lies deeper than the biceps muscle.

Function: Flexion of the elbow



Origin/Insertion: The triceps attaches the back part of your shoulder to the back of your elbow.

Function: Extends (straightens) the elbow



Function: The many muscles of the forearms work to flex and extend your wrist, supinate and pronate your wrist.



Everyone also seems to forget that the Deltoids or shoulders also are part of the arms. The deltoids work to flex your shoulder joint (raise your arms forwards, sideways and above your head).


So as you can see, the arms are made up of multiple muscle groups, each with their own structure and function. Therefore it is important to design arm workouts that will target each one of these muscles efficiently.


How Fast Can You Develop Arm Muscles

The speed in which you develop your arms will vary based on your body type , your training history and how often you train.

Mesomorphs will have the easiest time developing their arms. They just need to focus on proper exercise selection, training frequency, and adequate protein intake.

Ectomorphs on the other hand will have the toughest time developing these muscles. Ectomorphs will have to focus more time and energy into nutrition and adequate caloric consumption, otherwise the training may be a waste of time.

Endomorphs will also have to focus more time and energy into nutrition, but in a way that is conducive to fat loss.  Check out our series on fat loss at How To Lose Weight Naturally Using The Incredible Power Of Food


Depending on these variables, you can begin to appreciate a significant difference in your arm physique in approximately 12 weeks.


Guidelines For Designing Your Arm Workouts

  • How Often Should I Train Arms?

Just like we have discussed before, it is important to stimulate your muscles, and not annihilate them. You do not have to exercise a body part 5x a week to drive definition or growth. 

As a busy individual, training each body part 2 times a week should be sufficient to drive adaptations.


  • Rep Ranges for Arm Muscle Development

Focus on the hypertrophy rep ranges we outlined in How To Create A Workout Plan [That Fits Your Busy Schedule] of 8-12 repetitions.

I do not mean an easy set of 8-12 repetitions. You should feel that you cannot perform much more than what you have just attempted.

Perform, at the minimum, 3 sets per exercise, but no more than 5 sets.


  • Rest Periods for Arm Muscle Development

It is also important to keep your rest periods short if your goal is arm muscle size and/or definition. 

Aim for 90 seconds or less in between sets.


Now, let's move onto the actual exercises...


The Best Arm Workout Exercises

Here is where most people make the biggest mistakes. They believe that bicep curls are the end all be all.  

While performing bicep curls can help build a better arm physique, there are many more exercises you should include in your repertoire.

Bicep curls are isolation exercises. This means that they only train one single joint in one range of motion. As a result, they are inefficient and do not stimulate your body or muscles as much as a compound exercise would.


Compound exercises work multiple joints at once. These exercises give you a bigger return on investment as you are training many muscles simultaneously, saving precious time. In addition, multiple muscles working together are much stronger than isolated muscles, therefore, you can lift more weight and cause a greater stimulus/stress to your body. 

We discuss this further in 3 Essential Principles of Exercise Routines and How to Build Muscle Naturally Using Scientifically Proven Methods.

Isolation exercises do have their time and place. It is important to use a mixture of both compound and isolation exercises in your regimen.

Let's go over each muscle group one by one...


Best Bicep Exercises

The best bicep exercises are the ones that bring your arms closer to your body with either a neutral (palms facing each other) or an underhand (supinated) grip.

There are 3 Categories of Exercises that build the biceps: Horizontal Pulling Exercises, Vertical Pulling Exercises and Isolation Curling Exercises.



This is what we mean when we say underhand grip: 


Underhand Grips will emphasize the bicep muscles more when compared to an overhand Grip.




  • Bicep Isolation Exercises
    • Alternating Bicep Curls
    • EZ Bar Curls
    • Hammer Curls
    • Incline Curls
    • Barbell Curls

Best Tricep Exercises

The best tricep exercises are the ones that activate all of the pressing muscles simultaneously. 

They are: Horizontal Pushing Exercises, Vertical Pushing Exercises and Isolation Extension Exercises.



  • Vertical Pushing Exercises with an Emphasis on Closer Grips
    • All Overhead Press Variations (Barbell, Dumbbell, Standing, Seated)
    • Dips


  • Tricep Isolation Exercises
    • Lying Tricep Extensions
    • Tricep Pushdowns
    • Skull Crushers


Best Forearm Exercises

The forearms are fairly easy to develop.

Fortunately, almost all of the same exercises listed above will also train your forearm muscles.





  • Bicep Isolation Exercises
    • Alternating Bicep Curls
    • Barbell Curls
    • Hammer Curls
    • Incline Curls
    • EZ Bar Curls


The Best Arm Workouts At Home Without Weights

What if you don't have access to dumbbells or to a bench press? There are still a lot of great ways to train your arm muscles.

Here are a few bodyweight exercises you can perform at home without weights to develop your arms. If I had to pick the top 5, they would be:


1) Close Grip Pushups

2) Dips (shown above)

3) Pike Pushups


4) Chinups

5) Horizontal Pull-ups



The Best Arm Workouts with Dumbbells

What if you only had a set of dumbbells?

Here are the top 5 exercises that you could perform to develop a nice set of arms.


1) Neutral Grip (Palms In) Dumbbell Bench

2) Dumbbell Row

3) Arnold Press

4) Alternating Dumbbell Curls

5) Lying Tricep Extensions



A Simple Arms Workout Routine for Busy Individuals

If you have access to a full gym, here is a sample routine that you could use for 8-12 weeks to develop your arm muscles. This should only take you 30-35 minutes to complete if you are adhering to the 90 second rest periods we mentioned above.

The goal is to hit these muscle groups twice in one week. Here is a good example:




If you would like to see a more comprehensive workout program that hits the entire body, check out The Best Workout Template For Busy Professionals!


Arms Workout for Women

Everything that was just said about arm muscle building also holds true for women. 

Women do not need any special programming or training considerations when it comes to arms, except for the fact that they can generally handle higher frequencies and higher volume than men

What this means is that women can usually perform more repetitions and train these muscle groups even three times a week without as much fatigue as men.

If you are a woman and have not been seeing results, try bumping up the volume and/or the frequency and see what happens.

And don't worry, you will not get bulky Women generally don't have high enough levels of testosterone to develop large muscles.

In order to get 'bulky' you need to eat a significant amount of extra calories to gain size.

Simply follow the guidelines we have described above and you will be fine!



Now Go Develop Your Arms

So there you have it. You are now 'armed' with the best ways of building your arm muscles. No pun intended.


Go and take some nice beach or wedding photos.

What do you prefer?

Big arm muscles, Or toned, well-developed arms? Do you find them attractive in a partner? What other body parts would you like us to discuss? Comment below and let us know!

Be sure to check out Part 2 of the WCT Bodybuilding Series: The Best Glute Exercises of All Time, so that you can continue to develop the body you desire.

Oh yea, tt's also a good idea to drop some body fat to help accentuate the arm muscles you want to develop. Check out 7 Realistic Dietary Habits You Can Use To Eat Healthier Right Now to get started.

Share these arm workouts with a friend if you found them useful ->->



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Alex & Brittany Robles are the founders of The White Coat Trainer, a site dedicated to improving the health and wellness of busy individuals. Learn more about them here and connect with them on instagram and Twitter. Feel free to send them a message here


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