Thinking about toning your arms? It’s tough to know where to start. If you don’t own a set of weights or can’t get to the gym, it can be difficult to know how to work on these areas. Bicep curls using just your bodyweight don’t really feel like much of a workout, and a push up is just for your chest muscles, right?
Actually, that’s where most people are wrong. A push up is what is actually a compound exercise — that means multiple muscles and joints are utilized. You know that a push up engages your pecs, biceps, triceps, and lats, but you’re also engaging your wrists, elbows and shoulder joints to perform the movement. Compound exercises provide more value out of a single movement.
In comparison, isolation exercises involve focusing on one single muscle group and involve just one joint movement. The humble bicep curl is a great example of this. The primary muscle working is the bicep brachii, and your elbow joint performs the movement. Isolation exercises are excellent for building individual muscles, but if you don’t have access to weights they can be a little tricky to achieve. For that reason, compound exercises are a great way to tone up your arms, but you also get more bang for your buck by involving more muscles. Below are a handful of both compound and isolation exercises that don’t require any dumbbells.
Dips are perfect for working out your chest and back, but especially your triceps. First, find an elevated surface. We think a couch or a chair works well for this. Sit on the edge of the surface with your hands at your sides and your fingers facing forward. A bend in the knees will make this exercise a little easier, so keep your legs straight if you want to really feel the burn.
Use your arms to hold your body up and lift your hips off the surface. Lower your body down until your elbows are bent at 90 degrees. Remember to keep your chest lifted and avoid letting your shoulders curve forward. Then raise yourself back up. Don’t forget to breathe!
Pike Push up
We’ve all heard of a push up, but you might not be familiar with the pike push up. Whereas normal push ups target your arms and chest, the pike alternative focuses on your shoulder muscles to help you achieve those so-called boulder shoulders!
In a standard push up position, walk your feet forward and lift your hips in the air until your body is in a V shape. Bend your elbows and lower your head towards the ground, then press back up. Remember to keep your hips lifted and maintain that V position throughout.
Isometric Bicep Curls
Isometric means activating the muscle with no movement. While that may sound impossible, a lot of common exercises are isometric. For example, think about the plank. It holds tension without moving any joints. To perform an isometric bicep curl, you’ll need to find an elevated surface, such as a table. Facing the surface, place your hands underneath with palms faced up and elbows at 90 degrees. Push up with your hands as if you were trying to perform a normal bicep curl. After a minute of holding this position, you’re guaranteed to feel those biceps burning!
There are many compound and isolation exercises that you can use to tone up your arms. You can find more home-friendly, no-equipment-required workouts in some of our previous articles as well as in the Fitness Buddy app.
Maddy has worked in the health and fitness industry for 5 years. She has a bachelors in Exercise Science and has recently received her Masters in Exercise Physiology. She has worked with a wide demographic of clients as a Personal Trainer and loves helping people reach their goals and continue to grow. She is an outdoor enthusiast and dedicates her workouts to rock climbing, hiking and whatever new experiences may come her way.
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