This 4-Week Arms Challenge Will Strengthen Your Entire Upper Body

You'll build strength in your biceps, triceps, shoulders, chest and back with our 4-Week Arms Challenge.
Image Credit: Getty Images/LIVESTRONG.com

Healthy habits are built one day at a time. Our monthly food and fitness challenges can help you stay on track all year long.

A lot of us take our arms for granted. We want powerful legs so we can climb stairs with ease, and we want strong abs to keep back pain at bay. But our arms don't always get the appreciation they deserve.

So let's take a second to do just that. Strong arms make it easier to haul grocery bags, lift laundry baskets, tuck a book up onto a high shelf, pick up kids and so much more, all with a lower risk of injury.

Advertisement

"In anything that we do, from running to weight-lifting to moving, strong arms provide the body — our machine — with a strong foundation," says Keoni Hudoba, founder of core-intensive virtual training program COREntine and host of our 4-Week Arms Challenge (which he has affectionately nicknamed "ARMageddon").

To build stronger arms this month, all you'll need is some space to move and a set of medium dumbbells. The weight you choose should be heavy enough to challenge you but allow you to work the entire time with good form. (You can also swap the weights for one of these creative dumbbell alternatives). Keep scrolling for everything you need to know to join us.

Advertisement

Tip

"This challenge was designed to keep you accountable," Hudoba says. "Take modifications as needed, and when you feel like you need to stop, try for 1 or 2 more reps. Have fun!"

How the 4-Week Arms Challenge Works

We ran this challenge for the first time in November 2021, but you can start this challenge on your own at any time. You can also join our Facebook group to learn when we're hosting the next session or to find encouragement and support if you're doing a solo challenge.

Each week, you'll do the same type of workout on the same day, but throughout the month, we'll up the ante by increasing the amount of time you do each exercise (more on that below). Here's what your weekly schedule looks like:

Advertisement

  • ​​​Monday:​​​ The 4 Best Arm Exercises
  • ​​​Tuesday:​​​ Rest
  • ​​​Wednesday:​​​ The 4 Best Arm Exercises
  • ​​​Thursday:​​​ Rest
  • ​​​Friday:​​​ Workout Video With Hudoba
  • ​​​Saturday:​​​ The 4 Best Arm Exercises
  • ​​​Sunday:​​​ Active Recovery
Save or print this calendar to keep you on track throughout the month.
Image Credit: LIVESTRONG.com Creative

​Get a printer-friendly version of the challenge calendar here.​

How to Join the Arms Challenge

Step 1: Print and/or Save Your Calendar

Keep your calendar somewhere you can see it, and use it each day to help you stay on track. Do the activity listed, then check off each day as you complete it.

Advertisement

Step 2: Join Our Challenge Facebook Group

There's a lot to celebrate in our Challenge Facebook Group!
Image Credit: LIVESTRONG.com Creative

Our community of more than 51,000 members is here to support and motivate you through the month. We'll share tips, photos, encouragement and more!

Step 3: Master the 4 Best Arm Exercises

Even though this is called the Arms Challenge, you'll notice the exercises target more than your biceps and triceps.

"We're including other upper-body muscles in this challenge because we want an overall strong physique," Hudoba says. "The shoulders work with the triceps, which work with the core, and so on. This is going to give you optimal peak performance."

Your four main arm exercises for this challenge are (keep scrolling for a step-by-step breakdown of each one):

  • Biceps curl
  • Triceps kickback
  • Arnold press
  • Alternating shoulder tap plank jacks

On Day 1 and then every following Monday, Wednesday and Saturday, you'll do a circuit of the four moves following the time scheme below. After each rest period, move right into the next exercise. Each week, you'll increase the amount of time you do each exercise:

Week

Work

Rest

1

40 seconds

20 seconds

2

60 seconds

20 seconds

3

90 seconds

30 seconds

4

2 minutes

30 seconds

Tip

Only do however many reps you can with good form during your work interval. If your form breaks down, pause, reset, then continue until the time is up.

Move 1: Biceps Curl

JW Player placeholder image
Type Strength
Activity Dumbbell Workout
Body Part Arms
  1. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with both palms facing out and about shoulder-distance apart.
  2. Keeping your elbows glued to your sides and your chest upright, raise the weights up toward your shoulders.
  3. At the top of the motion, focus on flexing your biceps.
  4. Slowly lower the dumbbells until your elbows extend fully at the bottom without locking.

Move 2: Triceps Kickback

JW Player placeholder image
Type Strength
Activity Dumbbell Workout
Body Part Arms
  1. With a dumbbell in each hand, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hinge your hips back, maintaining a straight spine. Your upper body should be at a 45-degree angle to the floor.
  2. Bring your arms to your sides, elbows tight to your ribs. This is the starting position.
  3. Extend your arms straight back with control and squeeze your triceps at the top.
  4. Bend your elbows and slowly lower your arms back to the starting position.

Move 3: Arnold Press

JW Player placeholder image
Type Strength
Activity Dumbbell Workout
Body Part [ "Shoulders", "Arms" ]
  1. Start with your back straight and feet planted shoulder-width apart.
  2. Hold two dumbbells in front of you level with your shoulders with your palms facing you.
  3. Bring your elbows out to your sides as you raise the weights and exhale. As you press your arms overhead, rotate your wrists so that they face outward.
  4. Inhale as you slowly return the weights to shoulder level, palms facing in.

Move 4: Alternating Shoulder Tap Plank Jack

JW Player placeholder image
Type Cardio
Activity Body-Weight Workout
Region [ "Core", "Upper Body" ]
  1. Start in a standard plank position on your hands and toes. Your palms should be planted directly under your shoulders, and your body should form a straight line from head to hips to heels. Keep your core engaged and your glutes tight.
  2. Tap your right hand to the front of your left shoulder as you simultaneously jump your feet out to the side several inches.
  3. Return your right hand to the floor as you jump your feet back together.
  4. Repeat on the other side: Tap your left hand to the front of your right shoulder as you jump your feet out, then return your left hand to the floor and your feet to center.

Tip

Increasing the time spent working each week is meant to help you challenge both your body and mind throughout the month, Hudoba says. But if you're ready for an additional challenge, you can try his favorite advanced variations.

Step 4: Enjoy Your Rest Days

Every Tuesday and Thursday, you'll have a rest day. Take advantage of the days off by doing something active but low-intensity like cycling, yoga, tai chi, walking or hiking.

"Listen to you body in times of rest," Hudoba says. "It's the key to your machine's longevity."

Step 5: Add In These Workout Videos

To mix things up a bit, on Friday of each week, you'll do one of the following 10-minute workouts, led by Huboda:

Step 6: Incorporate Active Recovery

Your arms do a lot for you; give something back to them during your active recovery days. On Sundays, spend some time doing mobility drills, stretching and foam rolling, paying special attention to your upper body.

Huboda recommends adding 15 minutes each week to your active recovery. Aim for:

  • ​​Week 1:​​ 15 minutes
  • ​​Week 2:​ 30 minutes
  • ​​Week 3:​​ 45 minutes
  • ​​Week 4:​​ 60 minutes

Related Reading

Step 7: Celebrate Your Success

You made it to the end of the 4-Week Arms Challenge — congrats! Take some time to appreciate that accomplishment, then let us know how it went in our Challenge Facebook Group.

When you're ready, keep your momentum going with one of our other challenges:

Advertisement