Upper Arm Exercises

These are some good upper arm (tricep and bicep) exercises to build a gym routine around. Upper arms are fun to exercise, because with repetition results tend to appear fairly quickly. 


The best upper arm exercises are the ones you enjoy doing the most. I recommend choosing a few exercises that your like and creating your own workout. Having a good time exercising is the best way to ensure you'll do it again.

Upper Arm Exercises: Triceps

Overhead Rope Tricep Extensions:

This is an excellent tricep exercise. Try choosing a very light weight and doing about 15 reps to get your blood moving and your muscles used to the motion, before moving to a higher resistance weight. 

Getting into position:

  1. Start facing the hanging cable machine, holding the double rope attachment in both hands. (When you are in the gym, there will usually be a single and a double rope. Use the double.)
  2. Turn around, so that your back is to the machine and you are holding the rope directly over your head with your elbows bent. Step out into a lunge to brace the motion, and allow you to slightly lean forward. (Left Picture: Position 1)

This is your beginning stance.

  1. Squeezing your tricep muscles, extend your arms straight out (Right Picture: Position 2).
  2. Slowly bend from your elbows back into your starting stance. 

This is one rep.

*For best results, keep your triceps clinched to control the motion, hold your arms extended for two seconds before returning to position one, and try to do the whole exercise slowly.*

Single Arm Tricep Press:

  1. Plant your feet firmly, about hip width, and place your free hand on your hip to keep your body square. Try to be sure you are standing up straight the entire time. Leaning to one side can strain the muscles in your back.
  2. Hold a dumbbell in one hand straight in the air. (Left Picture: Position 1)
  3.  Bending from the elbow only, lower the weight as much as you comfortably can (Right Picture: Position 2)
  4. Lift the straight up, returning to position 1.

*For best results, keep your triceps clinched to control the motion, and move slowly.*

You can also hold the dumbbell with both hands and do the same motion, making it a little easier, if you prefer.

Tricep Rope Extension:


  1. Stand with your feet planted about hip width, and face the machine, holding the double rope attachment in your hands and your elbows bent at a 90 degree angle. (Left Picture: position 1) 
  2. Extend straight down, flexing the tricep (Right Picture: Position 2). This is one rep

*For best results, keep your triceps clinched during the whole motion, and hold position 2 for two seconds, before returning to position 1. Move slowly to increase intensity.*

*Be careful to only move from your elbows, the rest of your body should remain as still as possible.*

Lying Dumbbell Tricep Extension:

  1. Lay on a flat bench and grab the top of the bench with your free hand, for stabilization.
  2. Hold a dumbbell straight in the air. (Left Picture: Position 1)
  3. Bending from the elbow, lower the weight as much as you comfortably can. (Right picture: Position 2) Extend back into position one for one rep.

*For best results, keep your triceps clinched to control the motion. Move slowly to increase the intensity.*

*Be careful to only move from your elbow. Your upper arm should remain as still as possible during this exercise.*

Lying Barbell Tricep Extension:

  1. Lay on a flat bench on your back. Grip a barbell with your hand shoulder width apart. (Left Picture: Position 1)
  2. Bend your arms from the elbow and lower the bar until it almost touches your forehead (Right Picture: Position 2). 
  3. Straighten your arms back to position 1, and this is one rep.

*For best results, keep your triceps clinched to control the motion. Move slowly to increase intensity and avoid hitting yourself in the head with the bar.*

*For a more intense version, you can hold the center of the bar with both hands. Moving your hand closer together, focuses the workout on your triceps more directly.*

Upper Arm Exercises: Biceps

Barbell Curls:

  1. Stand with your feet planted hip-width apart, hold a barbell with your hands about shoulder-width apart, and your elbows bent 90 degrees. (Left Picture: Position 1)
  2. Being only from your elbows, curl the bar under your chin. (Right Picture: Position 2)
  3. Slowly lower the bar back down to 90 degrees, returning to position 1.

*For best results, move slowly and keep your biceps engaged to control the motion.*

*Be sure to stand up straight, with your shoulder back so you don't unnecessarily strain your lower back muscles.*

Dumbell Curls

  1. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, and bed your elbows about 90 degrees. (Left Picture: Position 1)
  2. Bending from your elbows, curl the weights to your shoulders. (Right Picture: Position 2)
  3. Keeping your upper arm still, curl the weight back down to 90 degrees, position 1.

*For best results, move slowly and keep your biceps engaged to control the motion.*

*You can also do the same motion one arm at a time for single-arm dumbbell curls.*

Cable Curls:

*Use the cambered (W-shaped) bar for this upper arm exercise.*

  1. Stand with your feet planted hip-width apart. Hold the bar in the arches of the W.
  2. Start with your elbows bent at a 90 degree angle. (The weight should be slightly lifted off the stack already.)(Left Picture: Position 1)
  3. Curl the bar under your chin. (Right Picture: Position 2)
  4. Return to a 90 degree angle, position 1, to complete one rep.

* For best results, move slowly and keep your biceps engaged to control the motion.*

Single Arm Cable Curls:

  1. Stand facing the machine and hold the single hand attachment, palm facing up.
  2. Start with your arm at a 90 degree angle. (Left Picture: Position 1)
  3. Bending only from your elbow, curl up to your shoulder. (Right Picture: Position 2)
  4. Keeping your upper arm still, lower the weight back to 90 degrees. (Position1)

*For best results, keep your biceps engaged and move slowly.*

*You can set your free hand underneath your working wrist for extra support if you need it. Sometimes your biceps can handle more than your wrists are ready for. The extra support hand can be very helpful in avoiding an injury.*

Cable Rope Curls

  1. Face the machine, holding the double rope attachment with your hands touching, and your elbows bent at a 90 degree angle. (Left Picture: Position 1)
  2. Keeping your upper arms still, curl up under your chin and pull the ropes slightly apart. (Right Picture: Position 2)

*For best results, move slowly and keep your biceps engaged.*

Hammer Curls:

  1. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, facing forward. (Left Picture: Position 1) 
  2. Curl your right arm up, rotating the dumbbell sideways (Center Picture: Position 2), lower the weight back down to position 1.
  3. Repeat the same motion with the left arm (Right Picture)

*For best results, keep your biceps clinched and move slowly.*

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