Arm Workout For Women: 10 Best Arm Toning Exercises For Women

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Most women neglect the upper body when routinely hitting the gym. The focus is usually on the lower body. Usually, it’s fear of bulking up or being too muscular. However, this really could not be further from the truth. We’ll dive into the bulking myth for females who want to lift weights in just a bit. An arm workout for women is a must if you want a full lean and toned body.

Arm Workout For Women With Weights

Truth is, there is a good reason for women to focus on the upper body, in particular the arms and shoulders. There is a benefit to overall health and having an athletic, toned physique that not too many can boast.

Not only are there benefits for working the upper body aside from looking good, there are benefits to your connective tissues, like ligaments and tendons. Using resistance training for the shoulders and arms is helping build and tone muscle, sure. But you are also strengthening ligaments and tendons that help to prevent injury, and help to strengthen the support structure for your bones.

We know that cardio burns fat, and helps to shed the unwanted weight. Resistance training does the same thing. We know that there is no such thing as spot reduction for fat loss.

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Fat Burning Benefits

Training the upper body and arms will not only have the effect of making you stronger and healthier, but also help you to lose overall fat in your body at the same time.  According to a study from the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that women who weight trained burned an average of 100 more calories 1 day after their weight training sessions ended.Another good reason for women to focus on the upper body, and the arms in particular, is to balance out the physique. Pound for pound, women are generally comparable to men in the lower body strength department, but lagging badly when it comes to upper body.Most women don’t want a ripped upper body, and that’s OK. But if you truly want an overall balance to your tone and shape–or if you are an athlete who wants to gain every advantage–there is good reason to give your arms and upper body a second look at the gym or at home.

Fact or Fiction: Will I Bulk Up?

A top myth for women when it comes to resistance or weight training, is the idea of “bulking up”. Most women just don’t want to become the female version of the Hulk. That is why most women would normally shy away from an arm workout.How to avoid this? Is it to lift light for high repetitions? No, that is not actually a thing either. No matter if you lift super heavy for fewer reps, or light for more reps, you still won’t bulk up like a man does. *Spoiler Alert*: Men and women are not the same, and they definitely don’t gain muscle the same way.There are several reasons why the dreaded bulk is just not going to happen.Testosterone

Women don’t have near the level of testosterone in their body to actually bulk like a man would. In fact, a woman has 15-20 times less the amount of testosterone than a man. Testosterone aids in building muscle, so this alone is a huge difference.

Muscle Fibers

Men and women also possess differences in their muscle composition. Men tend to have more dense muscle fiber than women do. Women generally have more slow-twitch muscle fibers in their body, which are not as good for generating force.

Body Fat Percentage

Women also have a higher body fat percentage than men. This means that a greater proportion of a women’s body will contain fat, whereas a man has the ability to have less fat and more muscle as a percentage of overall body weight and composition.

Want to know more about how to calculate body fat percentage? Take a look at this post on how you can calculate your own body fat percentage.

Myth Busted

No, lifting weights–whether they are heavy or not–will not make a woman bulk up. Yes, there are women body builders who are bulky, but generally, almost all women who decide to use weight training will not add bulk like a man would.

Arm Workout For Women: Muscle Groups

This is an arm workout for women, and the main focus will be on the arms, however it’s important to branch out a little to the shoulders and a few of the back muscles.The goal is to introduce some upper body tone, and to encourage overall balance in the upper body, while starting with the arms and branching out a little for an effective upper body workout.Here are the main muscles groups for each upper body area:



The bicep is actually made up of two muscles, i.e. “bi”cep. Anyway, two muscles called the long head and the short head. The short head is closest to the inner part of the arm, the long head is located on the outer part of your arm.

Different exercise movements will work either muscle and we are going to incorporate both into our routine.


As you could guess after reading the above, the triceps is made up of three muscles. They actually start at the shoulder blade and stretch across the backside of your upper arm.



The deltoid is a muscle located in the front part of the shoulder and the top of the arm. It will connect to your arm itself and the clavicle (collar bone).

It’s important to also exercise this shoulder muscle, not only for aesthetic purposes, but also because you use the shoulder or deltoid for pushing, pulling or lifting overhead. Having toned and lean shoulders can even make your waist look slimmer.


Normally simply called the “traps”. This muscle is located on the back of the shoulders and neck area and extend down to the back and through to where the deltoid muscle is located. Strengthening the traps will also help with posture and safeguard against injury due to muscle weakness.


Latissimus Dorsi

You might be asking yourself why we are talking about back muscles for an arm workout, but remember, we want to build a balanced upper body, starting with the arms and working outward.

The Latissimus Dorsi is one of the largest muscles in the back, so it also has a part to play in movements of the arms and upper body strength. The Latissimus is located in the middle back, on either side of the spine.

How Heavy to Lift?

We want lean muscle definition. So light weight, high reps, right? Wrong.We actually need to do the exact opposite. Heavier weight and less reps. We already established that you will not bulk up.Progressive overload applies as much to women as it does for men, and if you want to change your body, it’s a must. Don’t know what progressive overload is? Stop now, and go read this post about why progressive overload is so important. Really.As a rule of thumb, you should choose a weight that is not too heavy, but not too light. A weight that after a 5 to 6 rep set, those last two reps are challenging. You should still be able to finish the set though.

The Arm Workout For Women: Things to Know

What Is a Drop Set?

In order to get the most out of your workout, there are some variations and other ways to make each session more challenging and effective. Drop sets are a lifting hack to getting that extra bit out of each working set.

A drop set is when after the last rep in the set is complete, you will drop the weight to about half of what you were just using, and then immediately continue the rep until failure.

For instance, say you were doing bicep curls with 25 pound dumbbells, 4 sets of 6 reps each. After the very last set, immediately drop the 25 lb. dumbbell and pick up the 15 lb. dumbbell and do as many bicep curls as you can. This is a great way to end the set.

What is a Superset?

A superset is when you quickly move from one exercise to the next without taking a rest in between. A superset can be done using either same muscle groups, like biceps and the back, or opposing muscle groups like the triceps and the biceps.

This is another good strategy to keep your heart rate up, muscles firing and the calories burning for longer.

Equipment For an Arm Workout For Women at Home

All of these exercises are meant to be done with dumbbells. Guys, if you are looking for a home workout, and you need dumbbells, don’t buy a bunch of random weights. Also, don’t go and buy one set of 15 lbs dumbbells set at the store.

Check out this adjustable dumbbell set. I’ve used them at home and they are easy to use, great to store away and very compact.

If you want a more traditional set, here is a dumbbell set that has individual free weights that you can scoop up on Amazon too:

1. Tricep Kickback

2. Tricep dips

3. Overhead Triceps Extension

4. Biceps Curl

5. Zottman Curl

6. Hammer Curl

7. Dumbbell Shoulder Press

8. Renegade Row

9. Dumbbell Lateral to Front Raise

10. Upright Row

How Often Should You Train Arms?

You might be asking yourself, how often you should be training your arms and upper body. For the most bang for the buck, twice a week should be the minimum to really see the results you’re looking for.

Don’t be afraid to go 3-4 times a week. It depends on what your goals are and how often you can make it to the gym or squeeze in a session. Switch up the workout, or split the 10 exercises over several sessions. Either way, you are sure to make gains and look great!