How to Get Toned Arms

Five Parts:Exercising Your BicepsExercising Your TricepsExercises for ShouldersToning Your Upper BodyChanging Your Diet

Achieving toned arms comes as a result of making changes to your diet, and exercising all the major muscle groups in your arms and shoulders. If you're ready to look picture-perfect in all your sleeveless tops, perform the following lifestyle and exercise changes and you'll have toned arms in no time.

Part 1
Exercising Your Biceps

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    Do concentration curls. Sit on a bench/chair with your legs slightly spread and a dumbbell in the hand of the arm you’re working. Lean forward so that the arm you’re holding the dumbbell in has the elbow aligned near the same knee (not resting on it). Swing your arm downwards slowly to the floor, and then back up to shoulder in a set of 10. Repeat the exercise on both sides.[1]
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    Do an upright row. Hold two dumbbells, one in each hand, while standing straight up. Keep the dumbbells in front of you, parallel to the front of your thighs. Bring the dumbbells up to your chest, bending your elbows outwards, and keeping them parallel similar to the motion of rowing a boat. Slowly drop the dumbbells back down to the front of your thighs, and repeat the exercise in a set of 10.[2]
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    Do bicep curl resistance band exercises. Stand with your feet spread shoulder-width apart and a resistance band under your feet. Hold each of the ends of the resistance band in your hands at your sides, and slowly bring them to your shoulders. Drop your hands from your shoulders to release the tension, and bring them back to your sides.[3]
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    Do dumbbell hammer curls. Stand upright holding a dumbbell in each hand. Hold the dumbbells like you would a hammer, with your arm bent to your shoulder and the two ends of the weights directed upwards/downwards. Slowly bend your arm downwards do your side (as if you were hitting a nail with a hammer in slow-motion), and then bring it back up to your shoulder. Do this exercise in a set of 10.

Part 2
Exercising Your Triceps

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    Do a bench dip. This exercise places your hands on one bench and your feet on another, bridging the space between the two with your body. With the front of your body facing upward, use your arms to drop your body below the upper bench, and then push yourself back up. To increase the difficulty of the exercise, place a weight in your lap as you perform it.
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    Do a dumbbell kickback. Kneel on a bench with a single leg and the arm from the same side of your body, while your opposite leg remains upright on the ground and you hold a weight in your opposite hand. Bend your elbow on the side with the weight to 90 degrees, and then extend your arm backwards. Slowly bring your arm back to the 90 degree angle starting position, and repeat the exercise 10 times.[4]
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    Do close grip pushups. Lay on the floor in the plank position, and hold your hands together so that your thumbs and index fingers form a diamond shape. Slowly lift yourself up using your arms, and drop yourself back down to the starting position. As you perform this modified pushup, keep your elbows close to your body to ensure that you are actually working the triceps and not the pectoral muscles. To lower the resistance, place your knees on the floor or place your hands on an elevated horizontal bar.[5]
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    Do tricep extensions with exercise balls. Lay on an exercise ball on your back, with your arms extended to your sides and a dumbbell in each. Slowly bring your weights up so that they are parallel with your forehead, and then drop them back down to the straightened position at your sides. Repeat this exercise 10 times.

Part 3
Exercises for Shoulders

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    Do a lateral raise. This exercise works your rear deltoids and will improve the appearance of both your arms and your upper back. Stand upright with two dumbbells in each hand, at your sides. Bend slightly at the hips, turn your hands slightly so that your pinkies are the closest fingers to the ceiling, and bring your arms outwards and up (like wings). Slowly bring them back to your sides, and repeat the exercise.[6]
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    Do cable upright rows. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and a resistance band underneath them. Hold the resistance band in front of you with both hands, and bring it to your chest by extending and bending your elbows outwards, similar to the motion of rowing a boat. Slowly drop your hands back to your sides and repeat the exercise.
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    Do dumbbell upright rows. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and a dumbbell in each hand. Bend your elbows and bring your hands to your shoulders, and then push the weights directly upwards above your head. Slowly bring the weights back down to your shoulders, and then repeat the exercise.
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    Perform Arnold presses. Sit on a bench holding a dumbbell in each hand. Without resting your elbows on your torso or thighs, bend your arms and bring the dumbbells to your shoulders. Slowly release the tension and drop your arms back down so that they are parallel with your lap.

Part 4
Toning Your Upper Body

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    Do an around-the-world exercise with an exercise ball. This exercise requires you to use your hands to walk your body in a circle while you rest your shins on an exercise ball. In addition to challenging your upper body, this exercise will help you to build your core stability.
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    Do the side bender exercise in advanced Pilates. Lay on your side so that your body is perpendicular to the ground. Slowly raise your body up into a sideways plank, and hold the position for as long as you can. Do this on each side of your body. In addition to building your arm and chest muscles, you will strengthen your abdominals and your back.
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    Do traditional pushups. Pushups are great for toning your chest, arms, and shoulders all in a single exercise. Lay on your stomach, and use your arms to push yourself up onto your toes. Slowly lower yourself back to the ground so that your arms are at a 90 degree angle. Repeat the process; if you find it too difficult, bend your knees on the ground and work from there instead of your toes.[7]

Part 5
Changing Your Diet

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    Cut out processed sugars. As with all processed foods, processed sugars give you empty energy that lacks nutrients, leaving you only with calories. As a result, you gain fat, lose muscle tone, and feel lethargic. Whenever possible, avoid consuming processed sugars like those found in candy, junk food, and packaged baked goods and substitute in healthy sugars - like those found in fruit.
    • Don’t jump into a processed sugar-free lifestyle immediately, as you will be less likely to stick to your regime. Instead, slowly drop processed sugar from your daily consumption. Start with nixing one thing a day - such as the soda you drink at lunch or the candy you have for a snack.
    • When you get a craving for processed sugar, try eating only a small amount in addition to some fresh fruit. Eventually, you’ll be able to eat just the fruit as an alternative without feeling those pangs of desire for the bad sugars.
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    Avoid saturated fats. Similar to processed sugars, saturated fats give you lots of calories with no nutritional benefit. Because of recent studies of saturated fats, many foods have clear labels marking whether or not they contain them. When you can, cut out saturated fats from your diet and substitute them for healthy fats like those found in coconut oil, walnuts, and avocados.
    • If you eat a diet high in saturated fats, don’t cut them all out at once. Instead, reduce your daily intake a small amount each week until they are nearly or completely removed from your diet.
    • Take supplements such as fish oil to provide your body with omega-3 fatty acids - the type of fat your body needs to start building muscle.[8]
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    Reduce your sodium intake. A diet high in salt can cause water retention and high blood pressure among other things. Help give yourself more energy by looking for low-sodium foods and avoiding salty junk foods - the primary high sodium culprit.[9]
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    Increase the amount of fresh fruits and vegetables you consume. Although it may sound like a broken record, fresh fruits and veggies are the ultimate muscle-building/fat-burning foods out there. Fruits and vegetables are high in fiber and nutrients, making you feel fuller after consuming a complete serving than processed foods do. Aim to eat 1-2 servings of each as a minimum on a daily basis. Look for the most colorful fruits and veggies you can find, as these tend to have the most nutrients.
    • Some of the best vegetables for fat loss/muscle building include kale, spinach, broccoli, carrots, and squash.
    • Super fruits for toning your arms include blueberries, pomegranates, apples, bananas, and blackberries.[10]


  • Changes in your muscle tone won't be apparent immediately. On average, it takes about six weeks to see a noticeable difference in your size and shape.
  • Consider yoga for strengthening the arms. Any posture that requires you to support your weight with your arms or any posture that requires you to resist gravity with your arms will tone the muscles. Yoga builds isometric strength, which increases your endurance, as opposed to concentric and eccentric contractions, which build explosive strength.
  • Read up on a low carb diet. To reduce fat you need to reduce your blood sugars, so avoid food high in added sugars, reduce your intake of most carbs (potatoes, rice, pasta, bread). Forget about avoiding fats, unless you are into deep fried food!


  • Work out each muscle group equally. If you work your biceps but not your triceps, for instance, then you may make yourself more prone to injury.

Things You'll Need

  • Dumbbells
  • Resistance band
  • Bench
  • Exercise ball
  • Yoga mat

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Categories: Featured Articles | Building Muscle & Strength | Upper Body Strengthening and Toning