Strong arms are like a badge of honor for all the time you spend getting your fitness on. So that you can give others major arm envy, we asked six trainers for their top movesÃ¢â‚¬”and they brought us some seriously muscle-building ones. Try them out, then go ahead and flex!
The Trainer: Tony Gentilcore, a certified personal trainer and strength and conditioning specialist, and co-founder of Cressey Performance in Hudson, Massachusetts
Why This Move Is Awesome: Gentilcore says he really loves pushups for developing your arms, chest, and shoulders, and this modified pushup targets your triceps especially well. Squeeze your glutes and brace your abs throughout the entire exercise to keep your body in proper alignment, he says.
How to Do It: Get down on all fours and place your hands on the floor so that they're directly under your shoulders (A). Lower your body until your chest nearly touches the floor. Keep both elbows tucked close to your sides as you lower your body (B). Pause at the bottom, and then push yourself back to the starting position as quickly as possible. If your hips sag at any point during the exercise, your form has broken down. When this happens, consider that your last repetition or end the set.
The Trainer: BJ Gaddour, certified strength training and conditioning specialist and author of the Men's Health book Your Body is Your Barbell
Why This Move Is Awesome: ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s seriously effective for your biceps because you have to use them to move your bodyweight upwards, says Gaddour. Plus, the close grip makes this move even more challenging. If you can't quite do a chinup, use your feet to assist you or jump up to the top position and take at least five seconds to lower down to the bottom position, he says.
How to Do It: Grab the chinup bar using an underhand grip with your hands placed six to eight inches apart. Hang at arm's length. You should return to this positionÃ¢â‚¬”known as a dead hangÃ¢â‚¬”each time you lower your body back down (A). Pull your chest to the bar. Once the top of your chest touches the bar, pause (B). Then slowly lower your body back to a dead hang.
The Trainer: John Romaniello, owner of RomanFitnessSystems.com
Why This Move Is Awesome: Romaniello says this move helps you develop firm muscles and build strength in your triceps, which will help you with other exercises like pushups. To maximize this move, complete each rep with a controlled motion, making sure to keep your elbows close to your body, which keeps your triceps engaged. And keep your core engaged and breathe deeply for some added abs work, says Romaniello.
How to Do It: Grab a pair of dumbbells and lie faceup on a flat bench. Hold the dumbbells over your head with straight arms, your palms facing each other (A). Without moving your upper arms, bend your elbows to lower the dumbbells until your forearms are beyond parallel to the floor and pause (B). Then lift the weights back to the starting position by straightening your arms.
The Trainer: Strength and conditioning coach Mike Boyle, owner of Mike Boyle Strength and Conditioning in Woburn, Massachusetts
Why This Move Is Awesome: This classic exercise is one of Boyle's favorites because it does an awesome job of targeting your triceps, he says. Since the movement requires the use of more than one joint, Boyle says you can increase the weight you use more quickly than with single-joint exercisesÃ¢â‚¬”which means you can keep challenging those muscles.
How to Do It: Grasp a barbell with an overhand grip that's shoulder-width apart, and hold it above your sternum with arms completely straight (A). Lower the bar straight down and pause (B). Then press the bar in a straight line back up to the starting position. Keep your elbows as close to your sides as you can. Your upper arms should form a 45-degree angle with your body in the down position. This reduces stress on your shoulder joints.
Why This Move Is Awesome: This triceps-targeting move also allows you to increase the amount of weight you lift because it utilizes your chest and shoulders to help you move the weight, says Cosgrove. And upping up the poundage ensures that you wonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t get used to your workout, she says. Keep your wrists safe by making sure they're over your elbows during the movement, rather than letting them collapse backwards.
How to Do It: Set an adjustable bench to an incline of 30 to 45 degrees. Grab a pair of dumbbells and lie faceup on the bench. Hold the dumbbells directly above your shoulders with your arms straight (A). Lower the dumbbells to the sides of your chest and pause (B). Then press the weights back above your chest.
The Trainer: Celeb personal trainer Ashley Borden, author of Your Perfect Fit.
Why This Move Is Awesome: Borden says that while she generally likes her clients to do compound moves like the lat pulldown, she uses bicep curls after those exercises to give the biceps an extra kick (and the arms some extra tone). Whether you're doing bicep curls solo or as a follow up to a Ã¢â‚¬Å“pull exercise,Ã¢â‚¬Â make sure you don't "death grip" the handles. Focus on squeezing your biceps at the top of the move as though you're crushing a nut between each of your biceps and the tops of your forearms, says Borden.
How to Do It: Grab a pair of dumbbells and let them hang at arm's length next to your sides. Turn your arms so that your palms face forward (A). Without moving your upper arms, bend your elbows and curl the dumbbells as close to your shoulders as you can. Pause (B), then slowly lower the weights back to the starting position. Each time you return to the starting position, completely straighten your arms.
Exercise how-tos adapted from The Women's Health Big Book of Exercises and the Women's Health Big Book of Abs. For even more moves, get The Women's Health Big Book of Exercises and Women's Health Big Book of Abs today!