Weight exercises offer some enormous benefits over others. Not only do they help you build and maintain lean muscle mass, but they also burn calories, and give your metabolism a jump start. These exercises use a resistance force -- usually in the form of free weights and exercise machines -- to improve muscle strength and tone, increase stamina, and lower your fat-to-muscle ratio. (see Reference 1) If your upper arms are your main focus, you need targeted exercises for your arms, to work these muscles and get the desired results.
Your Arm Muscles Explained
The upper arms are made up of two major muscle groups. The biceps sit at front on the upper arm, and are usually the most noticeable muscles on the arms. These muscles are primarily responsible for elbow (forearm) flexion, as well as forearm supination. The main function of the triceps muscles, the large muscles which sit at the back of the upper arms, are responsible for the extension of the arm at the elbow joint.
Curl With Your Biceps
The dumbbell curl is one of the most important exercises to include in your workout to strengthen your upper arms. This is an isolated exercise that directly targets the biceps. Stand with a shoulder-width stance, arms down at your sides, a dumbbell in each hand. Position your hands so your palms are facing in. Bend your right arm, rotating your forearm on the way up so your palm is now facing toward you, the weight at your shoulder. Lower your arm to its starting position, then repeat on the other arm.
Curl It Up
Similar to the dumbbell curl, the barbell curl also targets the bicep muscles. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, arms down in front of you, hands grasped onto a barbell so it rests around thigh-level. Hold the barbell with an underhand grip, so your palms are facing up. Bend your arms at the same time, raising the barbell up towards yourself until it's in front of your neck, the weights on each side just above your shoulders. Return to your starting position, then repeat.
Tone Your Triceps
The stability ball overhead triceps extension exercise utilizes the triceps muscles in your upper arms. Sit on a stability ball, legs bent on a 90-degree angle with your feet flat on the floor. Keep your back straight and bend your arms on a right angle beside your head, so your forearms are perpendicular to the floor. Hold onto the top end of a dumbbell with both hands, with a heart-shaped grip. Without moving your upper arms, extend your arms so they're straight, raising the weight up with your hands. Lower back down to your starting position, and repeat.
Kick Back to Build Muscle
To work your triceps muscles, try the dumbbell triceps kickback exercise. Stand with a split stance, your torso bent forward slightly, your right hand resting on your right thigh, your left hand holding onto a dumbbell. Position your left arm so it's bent on a right angle, so your forearm is about perpendicular to your body. Keeping the rest of your body rigid, straighten your elbow, moving the weight away from your body until your arm is completely straight. Return to your original position, repeat, then switch sides.
Push it Down
The lever pushdown exercise is a machine-based exercise that works the triceps muscles. In a seated position with your back straight and feet flat, grasp onto the handles of the machine at your sides. Push down on the lever using the strength in your arms, lowering it down past hip-level, until your arms are fully extended. Return and repeat.
Prevent a Plateau
Resistance exercises will help get you big results, but only if there is an adequate level of resistance. After your arm muscles become accustomed to lifting a certain amount of weight, you can end up plateauing, preventing further progress. When you can complete a full three sets of 12 reps of any exercise, increase the amount of weight you're using. Only increase the weight by a maximum of 10 percent each time though, to avoid putting too much stress on your muscles and joints.