For how much we use our arms every day, it's a little surprising how easily we forget to give them attention in the gym. But aside from helping you get in touch with your inner Michelle Obama, strong arms come with some pretty killer side effects that are undoubtedly worth the effort. One of the biggest bonuses is that they'll help you get more out of all your other workouts — you'll be able to flow through your chaturanga with ease and go full force in your CrossFit challenges. But that's definitely not all.
Upper body strength (which encompasses your shoulders, wrists, and hands as well as your arms) also comes in extremely handy in everyday life. So get ready to carry your groceries home with ease and be the person all your friends ask for help opening jars. Plus, many of the moves designed to strengthen your arms benefit your core and back as well, helping you stay balanced, keeping your posture solid, and preventing injuries.
We know you're eager to get moving, but this is one area in which it pays to have a plan. There are two basic types of exercises that you'll perform when working out your arms: pushing (e.g. pushups and overhead presses) and pulling (e.g. bicep curls and bent-over rows). Although it might seem like a minor difference, these two types of moves rely on entirely different sets of muscles — your biceps pull and your triceps push, for example. That's why a complete arm workout encompasses both pulling and pushing exercises.
Plenty of these workouts can be done just using your bodyweight, but many others are most effective when you've added some extra weight. So you'll also want to give some consideration to the amount of weight you're comfortable with for the amount of reps you're going to be doing. In general, doing more reps (about 8-12 for our purposes) means you should be opting for something on the lighter side. And fewer reps means you want to make each one count with a heavier weight.
At the end of each set of reps, your muscles should feel temporarily fatigued. But you should still able to keep your form on point. So feel free to go down in weight in order to complete each set comfortably (no flailing, please!), or go up in weight if you're not feeling challenged in those last few reps.
Of course, you don't want to only work out your arms. But it's important to make sure they get the love they deserve. Ahead, we've collected a few of our favorite arm workouts — all easily accessible on YouTube.