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Arm Workouts At Home: Tone and Strengthen

By Eric Leckie, PT

Who doesn’t want to achieve a tone, lean appearance with arm workouts at home? A lot of people are self-conscious about their arms, especially older women. It’s likely something a lot of women have in common. Sometimes we focus so much on having a flat tummy that we forget about the other areas of our body, like our arms! Performing exercises that target arm strength will not only make them look better, but also provide some much needed upper body strength.

As with most other exercises, the key is to perform these in addition to eating a healthy diet and performing cardiovascular exercises. In order to lose that “under arm sag” we all dread and despise, you’ll need to not only build muscle, but also lose fat. I advise seeking out the help of a dietician or nutritionist to get the basics of healthy eating which is a great place to start. Without a healthy lifestyle, these arm exercises will only get a person so far.

Now that we’ve covered that, here’s a look at some of my favorite exercises that can help tone arms. You can easily incorporate these into an already existing fitness routine and be done from the comfort of your own home! To get the desired results, aim to perform 3 to 4 sets of 12 to 15 repetitions of each exercise.

Elliptical Machine

The elliptical machine is great for both a cardio workout, as well as some tonining in the arms. Granted, the problem with this exercise is that not everyone has access to this piece of machinery. For those that do — don’t hesitate to hop on! By holding onto the handles and adding resistance, you give yourself the option to push and pull. The more resistance the better! Your arms will feel like jelly after a 30-minute workout.

If you have never used an elliptical machine, hop on it next time you’re looking for a cardio workout and you’ll be sure to not only burn calories, but also tone those arms!

women strengthening arms on the elliptical machine

Chair Dips

Okay, this is an easy one that any person can do at home whether they have a gym at home or not. When it comes to tackling the fat underneath the arm the focus should be on the triceps. These muscles make up the back of the arm and the majority of arm muscle bulk. Chair dips are a great targeted exercise for triceps.

This exercise can be intense, especially for someone who’s just starting out. I recommend starting slow and remember, only lower as far down as you can control. If that’s only a small amount at first, that’s fine! You have to start somewhere. Build up from there. It’ll still build muscle over time. You want to value quality over quantity when it comes to repetitions rather than going too deep and not having the strength to get back up.

Woman strengthening arms with chair dips

Push Ups

Push ups are like sit ups, they’re likely more hated than loved. However, like it or not they are great for building arm strength and toning. If a person can successfully life their own bodyweight off the ground with just their arms is a huge accomplishment!

Not only is the push up a functional exercise that can be done anywhere without any equipment, it’s fantastic at blasting the tricep muscles providing a nice toned look.

Women doing push ups to strengthen arms


This is another exercise that does require some equipment at home, but for those who have access to it, it’s a great arm toning workout. Boxing is considered a multidimensional exercise that allow a person to burn calories while toning their arms.

woman boxing

Dumbbell Shoulder Press

While bodyweight exercises are great, toning arms is best done with some dumbbells or weights. The reason for this is because in order to build muscle, you’ll need some resistance. You can do many dumbbell exercises at home with a set of weights, or head to the weights next time you’re at the gym and try an exercise like the shoulder press!

Woman Doing Dumbbell Shoulder Press

Bicep Curls

This exercise is a staple in most people’s workout routine and for good reason. The bicep curl is a fantastic exercise to work the muscles on the front of your arms (the biceps). Grab a set of dumbbells and perform 3-4 sets of 12-15 repetitions to get a good arm workout in.

Bicep curls with a dumbbell

Dumbbell Rows

I am a big fan of working multiple groups at the same time and that’s why I love prescribing free-weight exercises. Next time you’re at the gym, give dumbbell rows a try. Not only will you be working the biceps, you’ll also be blasting your upper back muscles and core as well.

Dumbbell Rows

Chest Press

This exercise is a great way to mix in some more free-weight exercises into your daily routine. It focuses on giving your chest muscles a great workout and it also hits on your triceps to help deliver the toned look you’re chasing after.

Chest Press

The Rowing Machine

The rowing machine is a great way to test your overall fitness. Not only does it get your heart racing and burning calories, it also gives you an incredible arm workout thanks to the fact that you’re pulling on a handle in order to thrust your body weight forward and backwards.

Man Using The Rowing Machine

Pull Ups

This is probably the most difficult exercise on the list, but it is an amazing goal to set for yourself, especially if you want the toned arm look. Being able to complete a pull up will do wonders for toning your arms, while also helping build strength into your upper body. Start slow and give it a try.

Woman Doing Pull Ups

DPT, Doctor of Physiotherapy

Eric Leckie is a men's health Physiotherapist specializing in prostate cancer treatment. He completed his studies in Australia earning his Doctor of Physiotherapy from the University of Melbourne. He currently works in a private practice, in addition to owning his own Telehealth Physiotherapy clinic which focuses on treating men with prostate cancer.

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