The “2008 Physcial Activity Guidelines for Americans” recommend that you do at least two muscle-strengthening workouts every week, in addition to aerobic exercise. Weights, such as dumbbells and kettlebells, are an excellent way to strengthen the muscles in your arms. The main muscles in your arms include the biceps, triceps, brachialis and brachioradialis. A 5-lb. weights provides resistance that will help tone and increase the muscle mass in your arms.
Biceps and Brachialis
The bicep brachii is in the front of your upper arm. Target your biceps, as well as your brachialis muscle, located under your biceps, with a biceps curl exercise. Hold a 5-lb. weight in each hand with your arms straight down and your palms facing your sides. Flex both elbows and curl by bringing the dumbbells toward your shoulders. Your hands and forearm rotate during the movement, so your palms end up facing your shoulders. Lower to the starting position. Do not move your torso or your elbows forward when doing the exercise.
The triceps brachii is in the back of your upper arm. Target your triceps with triceps extensions. Hold a 5-lb. weight with both hands. Position the dumbbell overhead with your palms facing upward. Keep your torso stiff by contracting your abdominal muscles. Lower the dumbbell behind your head by bending your elbows. Do not let your upper arms move during the movement. Return your arms to the starting position. As you get stronger, hold two 5-lb. dumbbells for added resistance.
Brachioradialis, Wrist Flexors and Extensors
With a small modification to the biceps curl exercise, you can target your brachioradialis muscle, located in your forearm. Do a hammer curl by flexing your elbows, but do not rotate your forearm or hands during the movement. Your palms face your sides throughout the movement, instead of your shoulders. Dumbbell curls also target your wrist extensor muscles, while triceps extension target your wrist flexors.
Repetitions and Sets
The amount of repetitions you do with the 5-lb. weights should go up as you get stronger. Aim to do eight to 15 repetitions per exercise. At the beginning, you may only be able to do two or three repetitions, which is fine. Add more repetitions as you are able. Start with two to three sets of each exercise. Increase this number as you get stronger.
Consult your health care provider before you start a new exercise program. Always warm up before you do weight training workout with weights. Warming up increases blood flow to your muscles and helps prevent injuries.
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans: Chapter 4 -- Active Adults
- Anatomy and Physiology; Gary Thibodeau, et al.
- American Council on Exercise: Arm Exercises
- ExRx.net: Dumbbell Curl
- ExRx.net: Dumbbell Triceps Extension
- ExRx.net: Dumbbell Hammer Curl