Way, way too many women avoid or even fear arm workouts because they think they’re too hard — or worse, they worry about getting “too bulky.” First of all, strong muscles aren’t necessarily big muscles
, so that fear is totally misplaced. (And even if that were how it worked, there’s nothing wrong with having big, defined muscles!)
Plus, strengthening your arms
is in no way "too hard" — as long as you train within your abilities and build from there. The trick is to find moves that work your arms and your entire upper body, training everything as a unit in order to get functionally stronger (that means better at opening heavy doors and lifting things in your everyday life).
What you won’t find in this roundup is biceps curls. Because, unless you’re a fitness competitor who needs to create mass or definition, bending just your elbow for multiple reps is kind of a waste of time in terms of bang for your muscle-building buck. And, really, when was the last time you picked something up by first fully extending your elbow and then folding your forearm straight up toward your shoulder? (The answer should be never.) Your biceps, along with other, bigger muscles of your upper body, are much better served doing moves that get them working in synergy, not in isolation.
Ahead, a list of moves that meet these qualifications that you can pick and choose from to create your own arm workout. To put them together in a circuit, choose a rowing exercise, a chest-focused press or push-up
, a shoulder press or raise, and a more total-body movement. Do three or four sets of 8 to 12 reps to make it a kick-ass upper-body circuit. Now get at it!