There’s something about toned arms that says, “That person must workout!”  Aside from aesthetics, having a strong upper body is essential for many everyday tasks.  Oftentimes, gym-goers may focus on the “beach body” muscle groups like the biceps and neglect other major muscles in the process. While bicep curls and tricep isolation exercises have their place, there are other exercises out there that can give you some extra bang for your buck.  By adding in some compound movements at the beginning of your routine, you will help create a more athletic and balanced physique.  Here are a few of my favorites:

Compound Exercises

Dumbbell or Barbell Bench Press

A gym-staple, the bench press is often thought of as a chest exercise but the triceps actually play a key role in assisting during this movement.  While you could choose an exercise like kickbacks or rope pushdowns to hit the back of the arms, the bench press utilizes more muscle groups which in turn, means you burn more calories and still put your arms through a killer workout. 

Underhand Pull-ups or Lat Pulldowns

Similar to the bench press, pull-ups and lat pulldowns are compound exercises that use the back muscles but also the biceps.  By utilizing an underhand grip, you can ensure the biceps are assisting more in the movement.

Isolation Exercises

Preacher Curls

This exercise keeps the focus on the biceps.  Unlike traditional dumbbell curls, the preacher curl setup makes it very difficult to cheat by using momentum to lift the weight.  If you don’t have a preacher curl at your gym, you can also use an incline bench to mimic the same strict motion.

Tricep Isolation Exercises Using Cables

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with using free weights to target the arms; however, using cables keeps constant tension on the muscles preventing any assistance from jerking or momentum.  Try using the cable station for tricep pushdowns, overhead extensions, and kickbacks.  No need to go super heavy here unless you can do it with proper form.  Really focus on the full range of motion and squeeze the muscles you are working.  Your triceps will feel the difference!    

Don’t forget, there is no such thing as spot reduction so if you are struggling with flabby arms, these exercises alone won’t cut it.  A healthy diet and caloric deficit in addition to these exercises will ensure you will burn the overlying fat to reveal the toned muscle underneath.  Try starting with compound movements first, and end your workout with the isolation exercises to really target your trouble zones.  You’ll be ready to sport those tank tops in no time!      

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