by Tessa Jenkins Tessa JenkinsNovember 3rd, 2019

6 Arm Workouts for Women To Increase Strength and Muscle Tone

8 minutes read time

There are plenty of exercise programs out there that focus on so-called “problem areas” — abs, hips, and thighs, to name a few.

Whether or not you’re focusing on those particular areas in your workout routine, you might be looking for exercises that can help you strengthen and tone your arms.

We’ve got your back! (Or, well, your arms.)

There are lots of exercises you can do to work out your arms and get great results. The best part? You won’t even have to leave the house or get a traditional gym membership.


See Our Favorite Arm Workouts for Women

Here are a few at-home exercises you can incorporate into your workout that will give you the toned arms you’re looking for.


1) Push-Ups

Traditional push-ups are a great workout for your arms and your core. When you do push-ups correctly, you should feel your muscles working right away. The more you do them, the easier it is for your arms to move the rest of your body up and down.

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Here’s how to do push-ups in the right form to really work out your arms at home:

  1. Put your hands shoulder-width apart on the floor and your feet together behind you. Your body should form a straight line from your shoulders down to your feet, with your hands and toes holding your body up. Don’t let your stomach dip too low and don’t hold your hips too high.
  2. Bend your elbows to lower your body toward the floor. Keep your elbows close to your body as you lower (don’t stick them out to the sides like wings).
  3. Lower your body until your chest is between your hands, about four inches from the floor. Do not touch the floor with your body. Only your hands and feet should touch the floor.
  4. Push yourself back up to the starting position, with your arms straight. Be sure to keep your back straight the entire time.
  5. Repeat steps 2-4 as many times as needed for your workout.

If needed for your fitness level, feel free to modify! Putting your knees on the floor is a great way to ease into doing push-ups more regularly.

Modified version or not, the focus should be on keeping your back straight and using your arms to lower and lift your body so that you can build strength in your arms.

Challenge: slow down as you lower and raise yourself for each push-up. Feel that burn!


2) Bench Dips

Bench dips are basically an inverted push-up. Here’s how to do them at home to build your arm muscles:

  1. First, grab a bench or chair. (If you use a chair, make sure it’s wide enough that you can hold on to it comfortably with your hands behind you.)
  2. Start by facing away from the bench. Put your palms on the bench and your legs out in front of you, with your feet together and your heels on the floor. Your back should be straight and you should be bent at the waist.
  3. Lower yourself toward the floor by bending your elbows, keeping your elbows tucked toward your body (don’t stick them out to the sides like wings).
  4. Straighten your arms again to lift yourself back up to the starting position.
  5. Repeat steps 2 and 3 as many times as needed for your workout.

Be sure not to lower yourself so far that you can’t lift yourself back up. You may need to experiment with a few benches or chairs until you find one that’s the right height for your needs.

Challenge: slow down as you lower and raise yourself for each bench dip. Did we mention that you can feel the burn?


3) Plank Taps

This variation on a plank is easy to do at home and works your core and arms at the same time. Here’s how:

  1. Start in a plank position with your arms fully extended. Be sure to keep your body in a straight line from your head to your heels. Don’t let your hips get too high or too low. Your hands should be shoulder-width apart.
  2. Lift your right hand and tap your left shoulder while balancing your weight on your left hand. Return your right hand to the floor.
  3. Repeat this with your left hand on your right shoulder.
  4. Continue the tapping, alternating sides, as many times as needed.

If you struggle with this exercise, try keeping your feet wider apart (instead of together). This will give you more stability while you strengthen your arms and core. As you get better, you can close the gap between your feet to push the limits of your strength and balance.

Challenge: Tap your shoulders faster!


4) Plank Up-Downs

Plank up-downs are a variation of push-ups and planks that use momentum to strengthen your arm muscles. This is a really good video to see exactly how to do a proper plank up-down.

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Like the other exercises, they don’t require any equipment, which makes them a great exercise to do at home. Here’s an easy step-by-step:

  1. Start in a plank position with your arms fully extended. Be sure to keep your body in a straight line from your head to your heels. Don’t let your hips get too high or too low. Your hands should be shoulder-width apart. Your feet should be hip-width apart.
  2. Lower your left arm so your forearm (wrist to elbow) is on the floor. Lower your right arm so your forearm is on the floor. This should put you in a forearm plank.
  3. Reverse the movement: lift your right arm so your hand is on the floor, then do the same with your left arm. This should return you to a fully-extended plank.
  4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 as many times as you need. While you move, focus on keeping your hips straight.

If you struggle with plank up-downs, try widening the gap between your feet for increased stability. As you gain strength and balance, you can narrow the gap between your feet again.

Challenge: Tap faster!


5) Decline Push-Ups

If you aren’t getting the results you want from regular push-ups, this remix will raise the intensity.

You’ll need a bench, box, or step to do them. Here’s how to do decline push-ups:

  1. Position yourself in a plank with your arms fully extended. Your box or bench should be just behind your feet. Lift your feet so that your toes are on the edge of the bench or box. Walk your hands backward so you are in a plank with your feet elevated. You should be in a normal plank position, except for your feet, which should be higher than the rest of your body.
  2. Bend your elbows as you would for a normal push-up until your chest is nearly to the floor.
  3. Straighten your arms back to the starting position.
  4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 as many times as you move. Focus on keeping your back straight, just as you would in a regular push-up.

If you struggle with this exercise, try starting with a box that’s closer to the ground. When your feet are lower, the decline of push-ups will be easier. You can also move your feet hip-width apart to give yourself more stability.

Challenge: Try a taller box or bench so your feet are higher off the ground!


6) Yoga

Yoga is a full-body regimen, and practicing it at home is a great way to work out your arms. Yoga is known for slow movements and static positions that work your arms much harder than you might realize in the moment… at least until you start getting results! Since yoga is low-impact, it’s easier to do than programs with a more intense burn, especially for beginners.

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Even if you’ve done lots of yoga, you can keep using it to strengthen your arms over time by incorporating more challenging poses into your practice. Even a simple adjustment like holding poses longer can make things more challenging. Yoga is versatile enough that you can adjust your routine as you — and your arms! — get stronger.


Find Something and Stick to it!

Whatever your reason for focusing more on your arm strength, there are lots of great exercises that will help you get where you want to go.

The best part is that you can do most of these exercises without any equipment at all so you can do them at home. Why not start today?

We will leave you with this final thought..

Just find something that you love and stick with it. It’s all about being comfortable and being excited to get that next workout in.


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Tessa Jenkins

About the Author Tessa Jenkins

Previously an Intensive Care Unit nurse, Tessa become a yoga instructor because of her innate passion for health and wellness. Yoga has even helped her recover from a severe back injury and let her live a full, independent life.

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