Arm-Sculpting Exercises for Women

Sleeveless gowns, tunic shirts and bathing suits are just some of the many opportunities for women to show off sleek, toned arms. Pound for pound, women can be just as strong as men, but because of various factors they tend not to be. For example, women usually lift heavy objects less often than men, according to “A Guide to Personal Fitness Training,” by Mary Yoke. So, even though exercises that tone the arms work the same regardless of gender, women might need to start with less weight than their male counterparts.

Dumbbell Biceps Curls

Biceps curls are a standard exercise to tone your arms. They target the biceps (in the front of the upper arm), though the forearms also are used. A pair of dumbbells typically is used, though you can use a single dumbbell to work one arm at a time. Begin by standing tall, with a dumbbell in each hand and your arms held at your sides. Bend your elbows as you lift your arms toward your shoulders. Finish the curl by lowering your arms back to your sides.

Dumbbell Triceps Kickback

Triceps kickbacks target the muscles in the rear of your upper arms. The backs of your shoulders and the muscles of your upper back also work during this exercise. Each arm will use a dumbbell to work the triceps muscle, though a resistance band can be used instead. Begin by standing with your right foot forward in a staggered stance and holding a dumbbell in your left hand. Bend forward, and place your right palm on your leg with your arm straight. The left arm starts bent at a 90-degree angle, with your elbow pressed into your side. Straighten your left arm as you lift it behind you to do the “kickback.” Bend your arm forward again to finish a kickback. Switch the position of your legs and arms to work the right triceps.

Overhead Presses

This exercise works the arms and the shoulders, and you can do it seated or standing. You can even do the exercise standing on one leg to improve your balance and core strength. Whatever the position, make sure your spine is straight, and watch for arching in the lower back, which could indicate that you are lifting too much weight. Sit in a chair with your feet on the floor, or stand tall. Start with a dumbbell in each hand, with your wrists straight, your arms pointed up and your elbows extended to your sides at shoulder height to support the dumbbells. Next, push your arms straight over your head. Bend your arms again as you return them to your sides to finish one repetition.

About this Author

Sarka-Jonae Miller has been a freelance writer and editor since graduating cum laude from Syracuse University in 2003. She was a personal trainer for four years with certifications from AFAA and NASM. Miller also worked at 24 Hour Fitness, LA Fitness and as a mobile trainer. Her career in the fitness industry begin in 2000 as a martial arts, yoga and group exercise instructor.