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BEST EXERCISES TO TONE ARMS – WITH OR WITHOUT EQUIPMENT

BEST EXERCISES TO TONE ARMS – WITH OR WITHOUT EQUIPMENT

Say goodbye to bat wings! If you want to get rid of that pesky flab under the arms, there’s plenty of killer exercises you can do.

You don’t need large gym equipment to get the job done – you don’t need any equipment at all! Just a few minutes a day using dumbbells, or your bodyweight, can sculpt those arms nicely.

Check out below the 20 best exercises to tone arms!

Why Go for Toned Arms?

It’d be nice to wear a tank top without feeling self-conscious.

Having toned arms gives your body a natural curve of muscle definition. And don’t worry, you won’t end up looking like Arnie Schwarzenegger! Women’s lack of testosterone prevents bulging biceps.

Tone arms
Photo by bruce mars on Unsplash

There are a ton of benefits to having toned arms:

  • Helps boost your metabolism
  • Strengthens the back which improves posture
  • Maintains healthy bone density
  • Easier to carry the kids around!
  • Enhances your athletic performance in other activities (such as swimming)
  • Strength training exercise keeps your heart healthy
  • Lean muscle definition is attractive and sends out a message about your health
  • Feeling stronger and seeing your body tone is a great confidence boost.

Target Arms Muscles

When toning your arms, there are different muscles you can target. It’s good to familiarise with the basics, so you can find specific workouts for your goals.

Arm muscles
Image by Hank Grebe on Shutterstock

Triceps – muscle on the back of the upper limbs. It operates the extension of elbow joints. This is where arm fat can accumulate.

Biceps – muscle on the front of the upper arm. It lifts the forearms and rotates them outwards.

Deltoids – triangular muscle at the top part of the arm to the shoulder. It moves and stabilizes your shoulder joints.

Forearms – the anterior contains flexor muscles and the posterior contains extensor muscles. They operate many movements for the wrists/hands.

How Often Should I do These Exercises?

How much you want to tone and shape your arms is up to you.

Many trainers recommend at least 3 times per week. Most exercises can be done for 10-12 reps. It’s best to start with one set until you master the method. You can eventually build to 3 sets, adding more weight.

Best Exercises to Tone Arms

Depending on your circumstances, you can work on your arms with or without equipment.

NO EQUIPMENT

1. Arm Circles

Targets your triceps, biceps and shoulders.

via Gfycat

METHOD

  1. Stand straight with your feet shoulder-width apart
  2. Extend your arms out to either side at a 90-degree angle
  3. Move your arms in small forward circles
  4. Do as many rotations as you can for 30 seconds, gradually making the circles bigger
  5. Then do the rotations in the reverse direction.

*Can add light dumbbells for more challenge.

2. Up-Down Planks

Targets your abs, core, lower back, triceps, glutes, quads.

via Gfycat

METHOD

  1. Get into a high plank position, with your wrists under your shoulders and feet hip-width apart
  2. Bend your right arm and place your forearm on the floor
  3. Bend your left arm the same so you’re in a low plank position
  4. Reverse the move, extending your right arm with your hand on the floor
  5. Do the same for your left arm, returning to a high plank position then repeat.

3. Push Ups

Targets your triceps, chest, shoulders, abs.

METHOD

  1. Get in a plank position, pelvis tucked in with your neck and back aligned
  2. Keeping your back flat, bend your elbows and lower your body close to the floor
  3. Extend your elbows to push yourself back up again, then repeat.

*If you’re a beginner, wall push-ups are a great alternative that also work the arms.

4. Tricep Dips

via Gfycat

METHOD

  1. Place your hands shoulder-width apart on a chair or bench
  2. Extend your legs out in front of you
  3. Slide your butt off the seat, using your arms to hold up your weight
  4. Slowly bend your elbows to lower your body until your elbows are at a 90-degree angle
  5. Press down on the seat to straighten your elbows, raising your body back to the starting position then repeat

5. Plank Tap

Targets your deltoids, triceps, abs, glutes, quads and lower back.

via Gfycat

METHOD

  1. Get into a high plank position, with your wrists under your shoulders and feet hip-width apart
  2. Tap your left shoulder with your right hand
  3. Return your hand to the floor
  4. Tap your right shoulder with your left hand
  5. Continue alternating to complete your reps.

*Can add light dumbbells for more challenge.

6. Inchworm

Targets your arms, shoulders, abs, back chest.

via Gfycat

METHOD

  1. Start in a standing position with feet shoulder-width apart
  2. Reach your arms down to the ground
  3. Walk your hands forward on the floor, away from your feet
  4. Keep going until your body lowers to a plank position (can do an optional push-up)
  5. Step your feet toward your hands, returning to a standing position then repeat.

7. Chin Ups

via Gfycat

METHOD

  1. Position both hands on the bar, shoulder-width apart, with your palms facing you
  2. Bend your knees so you hang from the bar
  3. Bend your elbows, pulling your chest towards the bar
  4. Continue until your chin is above the bar (or whatever you can manage)
  5. Slowly lower yourself back down, keeping your elbows slightly bent

8. Kickboxing Punches

via Gfycat

METHOD

  1. Stand with your feet wide, more than hip-width apart.
  2. Bend your elbows at a 90-degree angle
  3. Raise your hands, taking your arms into guard position
  4. Roll your fingers down and wrap your thumb around your fingers to make a fist
  5. Do a jab by extending your arm out and returning to guard position
  6. Do the same for your other arm
  7. Alternate punches back and forth as fast as you can.

*Can add light dumbbells for more challenge. There’s a whole range of stances and methods you can try.

9. Lateral Plank Walks

Targets your shoulders, chest, abs, legs.

via Gfycat

METHOD

  1. Get into a high plank position, with your wrists under your shoulders and feet hip-width apart
  2. Move your right arm and leg sideways one step
  3. Move your left arm and leg across the same, keeping your back straight and core tight
  4. Take 1-2 more steps in the same direction
  5. Then take 3 steps back in the other direction and repeat.

10. Twisting Side Plank

Targets your shoulders, arms, wrists, abs, obliques and lower back.

via Gfycat

METHOD

  1. Get yourself into a push-up position with your heels aligned with your head
  2. Rotate your body so you’re balancing on your right hand and right foot
  3. Extend your left arm upwards
  4. Hold for 10-30 seconds
  5. Lower both hands to the floor and repeat this action on your left side.

*Can add dumbbells for more challenge.

WITH WEIGHTS

You can perform these exercises using dumbbells or resistance bands (and kettlebells for some).

1. Bicep Curls

Targets your biceps, front upper arms.

via Gfycat

METHOD

  1. Stand straight, holding a dumbbell in each hand by your side
  2. Keep your elbows close to your torso, rotate your hands to face forward
  3. Raise the weights, contracting your biceps (curling)
  4. Stop with the dumbbell at shoulder level
  5. Hold for 1-2 seconds, squeezing your biceps
  6. Slower lower back down.

2. Lateral Raise

Targets your shoulders (deltoids and trapezius).

via Gfycat

METHOD

  1. Stand tall, holding a dumbbell in each hand by your side
  2. Raise your arms out to your sides
  3. Stop at shoulder-height and hold for 1-3 seconds
  4. Slowly lower back down.

3. Dumbbell Row

Targets your biceps, back and shoulders/deltoids and trapezius.

via Gfycat

METHOD

  1. Stand straight, holding a dumbbell in each hand by your side
  2. Push your hips back and bend over at 45-degree angle
  3. Keep your back straight and legs still
  4. Bend your elbows and lift your arms to your chest (or just below shoulder-height)
  5. Slower lower back down and stay bent for remainder of reps.

4. Overhead Extension

Targets your triceps and forearms.

via Gfycat

METHOD

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart
  2. Hold a dumbbell in each hand (or one with both hands)
  3. Slowly lift your arms over your head until both arms are fully extended
  4. Keep your arms close to your head with elbows at 90-degrees to the floor
  5. Curl your arms behind your head
  6. Slowly lift and lower.

*Can do this exercise standing, sitting on a chair, or lying down.

5. High V Raise

Targets your shoulders/deltoids and trapezius.

High V Raise Exercise
Photo by bruce mars on Unsplash

METHOD

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart
  2. Arms by your side, holding a dumbbell in each hand
  3. Raise your arms in a V shape, keeping them straight and parallel to the floor
  4. Hold for 1-3 seconds and slowly lower back down.

6. Kettlebell Swings

Targets your shoulders, forearms, chest, lats, glutes and hamstrings.

via Gfycat

METHOD

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and the kettlebell in front of you
  2. Slightly bend your knees
  3. Pick up the kettlebell and pull it back between your legs
  4. Drive your hips forward to push the kettlebell up
  5. Straighten your back and swing the kettlebell up to shoulder-height
  6. Let the kettlebell swing back down between your legs.

7. Dumbbell Kickbacks

Targets your triceps, rear deltoids and core muscles.

via Gfycat

METHOD

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand
  2. Push your hips back and bend over at 45-degree angle
  3. Lift the dumbbells to each side of your chest
  4. Keep your elbows up and extend your arms behind you
  5. Bring your arms forward to your chest again.

8. Shoulder Press

Targets your triceps, shoulders and upper chest.

via Gfycat

METHOD

  1. Hold the dumbbells by your shoulders with palms face forward
  2. Keep your elbows out to the sides at a 90-degree angle
  3. Extend your elbows and press the dumbbells over your head
  4. Slowly lower your arms back down then repeat.

*Can do this exercise standing or sitting.

9. Upright Row

Targets your biceps, deltoids and upper trapezius.

via Gfycat

METHOD

  1. Hold a dumbbell in each hand in front of your thighs
  2. Keep your back straight and slightly bend your elbows
  3. Lift the dumbbells, using your elbows and shoulders
  4. Raise them to shoulder height, keeping your elbows higher
  5. Slowly lower your arms back down then repeat.

10. Chest Fly

Targets your shoulders, triceps and chest.

via Gfycat

METHOD

  1. Lie on an exercise mat or a bench
  2. Bend your knees with feet flat on the floor
  3. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing inwards
  4. Raise your arms in front of your chest
  5. Extend your arms outwards and slowly bring back in then repeat.

*Can do this exercise standing, sitting or lying down.

Doing Yoga

No need to limit yourself with just the exercises above. Yoga is another great way to tone your arms using bodyweight.

Check out the Top 5 Yoga Poses for Stronger and Tone Arms, and browse a whole range of free online programs!

Recommended Videos

Here are some great playlists that will keep you going for awhile.

HASfit

(Click the top right corner symbol to select any video from the playlist)

Fitness Blender – Upper Body Workouts for Fat Burning & Lean Muscle Building

Include Full Body Workouts

For best results, aim to strengthen your entire body. These exercises are great in conjunction with full body workouts such as cardio and HIIT. Try jogging, swimming or aerobics on the days in between.

Do you have a favourite arm exercise to recommend? Share your thoughts below and discover more workouts here!

26 thoughts on “BEST EXERCISES TO TONE ARMS – WITH OR WITHOUT EQUIPMENT

  1. Once upon a time, a long time ago, I used to be quite fit. Those days are long gone but I still yearn for the motivation to come out of hiding and slap me back to exercise consciousness. It has to be said that this is the most comprehensive set of exercises that target a specific area, I have come across.

    As I read and watched my way through them, I did notice that there are additional benefits for other areas of the body including the core. The core can play a huge part in our feeling of well being and also aiding in our posture.

    What I enjoyed most was the fact that I knew less than half of these exercises. One of my main failings when it came to consistency was losing interest. With this variety of different, targeted exercises I am sure I will be able to vary my routine enough to keep my motivation up. I still have a set of free weight dumbells, I just might have to take a few of the weights off before starting again.

    1. Hi there, so glad you found this helpful! It can be hard getting back into exercise, can’t it? If you’re needing extra motivation, I have other posts which could help you. That’s right, a lot of these exercises benefit the core and contributes to overall strength and better posture. Variety is important alright; having a consistent routine is key. You could start with the bodyweight exercises then move on to the dumbbells which will give you plenty of variety. All the best with it, thanks for reading 🙂

  2. Thanks for this incredible informational post. It’s the best I’ve seen on arm exercises. I find the exercises really helpful, especially the ones without equipment, as I’m always travelling for work and I can do these on the go. This will really help me with carrying my 2-year old kid around, as my back has weakened from a recent injury. 

    1. Hi Joe, I’m glad you found this helpful! The bodyweight exercises are highly effective and very suitable for travel. I’m sure you’ll find them very beneficial 🙂 Building your strength can help, including your core. All the best with it, thanks for reading!

  3. Thank you very much, this is going to be very important to me becuase I was thinking of how on this earth I will be able to lose the fat on my arm. Well,now I can easily do it in my house without the thoughts of going to the gym at all. That’s very nice for me honestly. Thank you for adding those GIFs because they’ll also be a source of motivation for me. I’m bookmarking your post now. Thanks

  4. Hello, thank you for sharing all these to us. Seriously, I would prefer to exercise without adding weight equipments. So, I will just stick with this. The exercises you suggested are on spot and I couldn’t be more satisfied with the amount of information made available here. Thanks so much. One thing that is very certain is that one must be ready to adhere to the exercises. I like the exercises especially based on the the fact you even share the methods to achieving each of them. I’d add them to my routine ASAP. Thanks

    1. Hi Shelly, I’m so glad you found this helpful! Doing these exercises with your body weight can be just as effective. I agree, learning the technique and sticking to a regular routine is highly important. Be sure to check out YouTube for some awesome workouts! All the best with it, thanks for reading 😊

  5. Bat Wings? I like this term but definitely dislike it on me. This is one of the best articles I have come across on toning arms. I have read a few. Yup, been trying to tone my bat wings for a while now but without much success. You have made it seems to easy. You know what? I will use some of the methods you shared here. Let’s see how it goes… 

    1. Hi Sharon, I’m glad you found this helpful! Yep, bat wings are a pain. Incorporating these exercises into a regular routine should help you. You’ll have to let me know how you go! All the best with it, thanks for reading 🙂

  6. You’re right, there’s nothing as bad as going to the beach or wearing a tankini and not being able to go own that full confidence. I have seen this with many women  out there and they do not know that there’s a way they can deal with the problem. Some of my colleagues at work too have the same problem so I’ll be sharing this with them and I’m sure it’ll work well. Nice site by the way. Thank you!

    1. Thanks, John, I’m glad you found this helpful and enjoy the site. Exercise can do wonders for confidence. Feeling good on the inside is just as important as the outside and exercise can do both! As you say, sometimes people aren’t sure where to start. This guide can point in the right direction, thanks for reading 🙂

  7. Wow! Needless must I reiterate that this article is a top notch one that has covered all activities needed to get our arms toned. I am among the lazy unit in the workout group and often, I don’t like using equipments to train and thanks for grouping the routines into two. I’d firstly add up all the exercises without routine into my daily exercise routines. This is really great to read on. Cheers

    1. Thanks, Tracy, I’m so glad you found this helpful! I’m sure you’ll gain a lot of benefits with the exercises with no equipment. What’s especially great about them is you can do them anywhere at any time, even on a lunch break! All the best with it, thanks for reading 🙂

  8. Hello there, thanks for sharing this amazing post. Exercising has been my thing since I was a very small girl, but I have often been scared of adding extra muscle so I wouldn’t scare guys away, lol. So many times I only focus on having that flat tummy but never thought of toning my arms. However from what I have seen here, I think its time to try something new, I’ll start the suggested exercises from my next exercise session.

    1. Hi Chloe, for sure give them a try! You definitely needn’t worry about bulking up too much, and you can enjoy a healthy toned body. I’m glad you found this helpful, all the best with it! Thanks for reading 🙂

  9. I gain some weight lately and I was looking for a way to lose some and tone my arms. So, I am very grateful for your exercise list. I am going to start with the easiest ones, especially the ones without any tool and from there after a month, I will add some tools to make it more efficient.

    Thanks

    1. Hi there, that sounds like a good plan! Exercise using bodyweight can be highly beneficial. I’m glad you found this list helpful. Be sure to check out the amazing workouts with HASfit and Fitness Blender too. All the best with it, thanks for reading 🙂

  10. I have been persuading my wife to tone her arms but she has often refused, saying she doesn’t want to go to the gym, that the equipment should be bought and brought to the house. Generally, there are so many females who don’t want to visit the gym, and worse, some don’t want to because they fear adding excess muscle. I’m glad in this post it was made clear they can’t have that much muscle. I’ll inform my wife about these exercises so she can start at home. Best regards.

    1. Hi Dane, I’m a big advocate for home fitness. Not everyone’s comfortable at a gym, and these exercises can easily be done in the privacy of your own home. I hope your wife enjoys them 🙂 Thanks for reading!

  11. Variety is an attraction for me when I work out at home.

    I get tired of one type so easily. You have offered so many arm exercise techniques right at the comfort of home or when you travel.

    I do some of these exercises but not regularly. It is truly an inspiring post for me to give it a regular try. 

    Do these exercises one can do if he or she is sick?

    1. For sure, variety is the spice of life. It can be hard sticking to exercise so having a range of workouts to avoid boredom is important imo. I’m glad you’re ready to give them a try, I’m sure you’ll find something that suits you. Like any exercise, it’s best not to overdo it when you’re sick. Listen to your body. I’m glad you found this helpful, thanks for reading 🙂

  12. This is the best post I’ve seen in a long time because it was so helpful in explaining everything! I have just recently started to tone my arms.

    i’ll admit, I was always scared to, because like you said, I didnt want to look too bulky, but it’s interesting that we dont have enough testosterone to even look super bulky, thats really reassuring! I love that you give video demonstrations for every move and then break it down. I have this bookmarked and cant wait to try these moves on my next visit to the gym!

    1. I’m so glad you found it helpful! Toning your arms will give a nice definition but you don’t have to worry about bulking up too much. Hopefully, this guide has everything you need, I find videos much easier to follow myself. You’ll have to let us know how you go with it at the gym! Thanks for reading 🙂

  13. Hi CJ, it’s great timing for me in reading your post. I’ve started an October fitness challenge where I’m focussing on chin ups/pull ups so I’ll be working my arms. I love that you included exercises that don’t use weights in this post, maybe I’ll add one to my challenge. Thanks for this info.

    1. Hi Tamika, I’m glad you found this helpful! Chin-ups and pull-ups will definitely get your arms into shape. There’s plenty of variety here for you. Thanks for reading, all the best with your challenge 🙂

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