Six exercises to boost your bicep and tricep strength

with HAC Personal Trainer Ken Roberts

As we grow older, we lose muscle mass and bone density, but through strength training, we can minimize this loss. These are some arm exercises that are helpful for all ages. All these exercises are meant to be completed unilaterally, meaning each arm works independently, helping strengthen imbalances between the left and right side of the body.

PRO TIP: Unilateral exercises allow for the opportunity to minimize imbalances between one side of our body and the other. To most effectively do this, start each exercise by working your weaker side. If you are right-handed, your left arm is likely weaker.

1. Standing Alternating Dumbbell Curls

(A) With knees slightly bent, hold weights at your sides with palms facing in (this is called a neutral grip). (B) Bending at the elbow, curl one arm in toward the corresponding shoulder. As you bring your arm up, supinate at the wrist (that is, rotate your palm to face your shoulder), then return your arm to its starting position and repeat on the opposite side.

2. Concentration Curls

(A) Sit on a bench holding a dumbbell in one hand with your elbow posted against the inner thigh of your corresponding leg near the knee.
(B) Curl the dumbbell toward your corresponding shoulder, then return to starting position. Do not fully straighten your arm at the bottom of the movement.

3. Hammer Curls

(A) With knees slightly bent, hold weights at your sides with palms facing in. Feet should be roughly shoulder-width apart. (B) Raise one dumbbell toward the corresponding shoulder, maintaining a neutral grip throughout the motion (that is, your wrist should never rotate one way or the other). Return to starting position and repeat.

4. Single Arm Cable Tricep Press-Downs

(A) You’re going to need a cable stack with the cable locked into the highest position. Stand with your shoulders parallel to the cable stack, holding the handle of the cable with an underhand grip in the hand furthest from the stack. Start with your elbow at a 45-degree angle and, (B) keeping your elbow pinned at your side, pull the cable and straighten your arm. Return to starting position and repeat.

5. Lying Tricep Dumbbell Extension

(A) Lying on your back on a bench, hold one dumbbell in each hand. Position your arms over your shoulders and parallel to one another with a 90-degree bend in both elbows and palms facing in. (B) Without moving your upper arms, extend your elbows, raising the dumbbells toward the ceiling, then return to starting position and repeat. This exercise, unlike the others, works both arms at the same time.

6. Tricep Kickbacks

(A) Kneel on a bench with one leg and hold a dumbbell in the opposite hand. Bend at the hips and post your free hand on the bench to support your upper body. Start with your dumbbell hand bent at the elbow about 45 degrees. (B) Keeping the elbows pinned in place, straighten your arm, raising the dumbbell up toward your hip, then return to starting position.

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