11 best arm workouts (and how to do them)

You can build your arms in a variety of ways, and in terms of how you train them you will receive your desired goal: whether that is to have huge biceps and triceps or toned and defined muscles. 

In terms of arm workouts at home or at the gym, it isn’t all down to biceps, triceps, and preacher curls. There are many more exercises that you can do that will build all of the muscles in and around your arms that will allow you to show them off at every angle.

The key reasons for doing arm exercises

  • Increase muscle mass
  • Allows you to do more difficult exercises
  • Gets rid of flabby arms 
  • Strengthens your grip and power
  • Develop a more aesthetically pleasing physique

What is equally important about arm exercises (it’s not just a superficial thing) is that having muscular arms gives you more ability to perform other strength training exercises.

Many chest and back exercises also rely on you having strong arms because of the push or pull force being applied. 

Best arm exercises to tone and build lean muscle

1. Push ups

Man doing push ups on the floor | DNAfit BlogThe push up has numerous variations allowing the usage of a variety of muscle groups. The standard push up works your chest, shoulders, triceps, and core -utilising stabilisers.


  • Diamond push up -  utilizes the triceps muscle at higher rates.
  • Wide push up -  spreads the load, utilizes more of your pectoral muscle
  • Staggered hand push up -  allowing for increased stress placed on the opposing arm, meaning your triceps, pectorals and serratus anterior need to put in extra effort to keep you going.
  • Single arm push up(Advanced) -  utilizing major stabilizing muscles together with the pecs, biceps and triceps.
  • Warrior push up allows the obliques incorporation into the muscles utilized

2. Bicep Curls

Mates doing bicep curls | DNAfit Blog

The most commonly used exercise for the bicep muscle that can be done weighted or with a resistance band and even a kettlebell.   

Single arm bicep curl isolates the bicep muscle in a singular movement, whereas barbell bicep curls can assist with utilizing heavier weights as both bicep muscles can handle higher levels of stress together.

When single arm or isolated movements are used, you utilize only strengthen the muscle group in a single plane, whereas with compound movements can increase strength in numerous plans and utilize various muscle groups assisting with a greater strength in a functional pattern.

A compound set would look this this:

  • Bicep curl to One-Arm Hammer Row
  • Push up row
  • Rope Pressdown - Cable curl

3. Underarm Chin ups

Woman doing underarm chin ups | DNAfit BlogThe under arm chin ups utilizes more the bicep and the back then its counterpart the pronated wide arm pull up.

This exercise can be done weighted or just body weighted, depending on training status.

Eccentric pull ups will assist the beginner to build up strength to actually produce more than one pull up and could be seen as a cheat to better pull ups.

4. Monkey bar climbing

Couple exercising at the park | DNAfit Blog

Monkey bar climbing allows not only over all muscle utilization it is relatively easy and can be incorporated into the basic of routines. From the playground to the gym this is an overall upper body exercises that utilizes the forearm, bicep, latissimus dorsi, deltoids, abdomen and obliques

5. Kettlebell push up row (Advanced)

Team exercising at the gym | DNAfit Blog

Stabilizes the upper body and your midsection together with the biceps tricep.


  • Push up stance kettlebell rows.
  • Lying face up kettlebell push up
  • Push up with single arm row

6. One arm dumbbell row

11 best arm workouts (and how to do them)1

Single isolated movement placing strain on several muscle groups. This exercises optimises focus on the target muscle, assists with balance and stability of the torso and upper body. Stability and balance allows you to freely focus on achieving the best contraction possible. Increases strength and also assist with decreasing injury risk.

Variation can include two arm dumbbell row (lower back stability required to perform this movement).

7. Seated bent-over two-arm dumbbell kickback

Isolates the tricep muscle, the tricep muscle making up the largest part of the arm  should not be dismissed when training as the tricep allows for retraction and extension of the forearm and allows for stability of the shoulder joint at the top of the humerus.

Variation - Standing Two arm Dumbbell kickback

Woman doing the band back fly | DNAfit Blog
  • Single arm tricep kickback
  • Bent over Tricep kickback

If you’re looking to make the most out of your time spent in the gym and optimise your workouts efficiently, then download our guide, Optimising your gym workout for maximum results. It will give you tips, tricks and solid advice regarding how you can take your fitness regime to the next level.

Download Guide

8. Cable push downs and extension

Man doing push downs at the gym | DNAfit Blog

Usually used with the straight short bar and gripping utilizes the tricep that assists with stabilizing the shoulder.


  • Cable Push down and extension can be done with ropes, single handed pulleys, with different grips
  • Different grip variations - palms gripped down, palms gripped up

9. Tricep Dips

Couple training at the gym | DNAfit Blog

Isolate the tricep muscle, however, assists with shoulder mobility, stability and strength.


  • Straight leg tricep dips/ one leg raised
  • Bent knees tricep dips
  • Stability ball tricep dips 

10. Band Back fly

Main muscle group is the posterior deltoid, rhomboid and middle trapezius muscles that assist with stabilizing the shoulder and creating better upper body posture. The muscles built while performing this exercise will help prevent shoulder injury as well as make the shoulders more balanced and proportional in appearance.


  • Seated reverse back fly’s
  • Dumbbell back fly’s - (Intermediate - Advanced)

11. Handstand push up

Strong man doing handstand push ups | DNAfit Blog

Incorporates both upper body and stabilizers throughout the entire body and should only be performed when adequate strength gains have already been reached. Beginners should not try a handstand push up from the get go.

  • Strengthens the triceps, shoulders and chest
  • Strengthens many stabilizer muscles within the body as this is a full body exercise not only arms.
  • Requires coordination and balance, associated with proprioception - The ability to sense stimuli arising within the body regarding position, motion, and equilibrium.
  • Can be an effective muscle builder and provides the benefits of inversion(Reverse effect of gravity) that can assist with strengthening your spine, increasing the spaces in between your vertebrae but only if this movement is done correctly.

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