Here's Your Exercise Encyclopedia For Toned Arms and Tight Abs
Don't shortchange yourself with biceps curls and crunches. Save time at the gym and challenge your body with these exercises that focus on both your arms and your abs! Some are equipment-free and some require weights — think dumbbells or a med ball — but all these moves are bona fide multitaskers. Be sure to add them into your workout rotation.
Overhead Med Ball Circles
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart with a slight bend in your knees. Keeping your spine in neutral, lift a five- to eight-pound medicine ball overhead.
- Begin to circle the ball to the left, in the largest circles you can make, while maintaining a still and stable torso.
- Circle eight times, then reverse directions for another eight reps to complete one set. Aim for three sets.
As you stabilize your core while circling the medicine ball above your head, your abs will feel the burn. Your arms will feel it, too!
Dumbbell Crossover Punch
- Begin by lying on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the ground, about two feet from your butt. Hold weights, five- to eight-pound dumbbells, in both hands at your chest with your elbows on the floor.
- Keeping your hands at your chest, roll up to a sitting position. Twist your ribs to the left as you "punch" your right hand to the outside of the left knee.
- Bring the right hand back to your chest as you untwist, bringing your torso back to the center, and roll down to the ground.
- Repeat the sit-up, twisting to the right side to complete one rep.
- Fifteen reps complete a set.
Adding weights to the classic sit-up brings a whole new level of toning to your workout.
V-Sit With Single-Arm Chest Fly
- Begin sitting with your heels planted about two feet from your butt, holding the weights at chest level with a slight bend in your elbows. Lean back a few inches, pulling your abs toward your spine.
- Keeping the left arm still, open your right arm to the side, making sure the weight doesn't go beyond your shoulder.
- Bring your right arm back to center to complete one rep.
- Complete 10 reps with the right arm, then switch sides.
In this variation, the abs work extra to maintain stability as you pull the dumbbell away from your center, which works your upper arm.
Plank and Rotate
- Begin in a plank position holding a five-pound dumbbell in each hand, keeping your wrists stiff to protect the joints. Open your feet a little wider than hip distance.
- Lift your left hand to the ceiling, twisting through your entire torso — keep the motion smooth and controlled. Your pelvis will rotate, but keep it level without letting it raise or drop.
- Bring your left hand back to the floor, and repeat this action on the other side to complete one rep.
- Do 10 to 15 reps to complete a set.
Twisting in a plank position fires up the core and challenges your arms strength, too.
Elbow Plank With Twist
- Start in side elbow plank on your right side, with your feet stacked one on top of the other (you can stagger your feet for more stability). Place your hand so your fingers point away from you.
- Place your left arm behind your head and inhale to prepare.
- Exhale and pull your navel to your spine while rotating your ribcage toward the floor, bringing your left elbow to your right hand.
- Return to the starting position to complete one rep.
- Do 10 reps on each side.
Twisting is good for the spine and tones the obliques, the ab muscles that crisscross the abdomen. To increase your stability in this position, reach your bottom toward the ceiling — this also works the inner thighs.
Side Plank With Reverse Fly
- Start in a side plank on your left side, holding your weight in your right hand with your right arm parallel to the floor.
- Exhale and pull your abs toward your spine to stabilize your torso as your raise your right arm to the ceiling. Do not let your hand travel behind your shoulder. Lower the weight back to starting position to complete one rep.
- If you feel unstable in this position, split your legs bringing your right leg forward to steady yourself.
- Do 10 reps before switching sides.
Side planks tone the abs, and adding the reverse fly into the mix not only challenges your core a bit more, but also tones the back of the shoulder. Squeeze your inner thighs together for added stability.
Elbow Plank With Knee Drive
- Start in an elbow plank, and bring your right knee into your nose; your pelvis will rise toward the ceiling. Place right foot back on the ground.
- Alternate sides, bringing your left knee in.
This exercise will leave both your arms and your abs burning — in the best way possible.
- Being lying with the front of your body on the mat. Exhale and lift your legs and upper body off the mat, pulling your elbows back squeezing your shoulder blades down and together. Keep your abs engaged to protect your lower back.
- Inhale and lower your legs to the mat, placing your palms by your shoulders.
- Exhale, pull your thighs off the floor, and engage your abs as you push your body up into a full plank.
- Inhale and lower your body slowly to the floor to complete one rep.
- Do 10 reps.
You really need to tighten up your abs to keep your torso stable before starting the push-up.
Down Dog Push-Ups
- Begin in a Downward Dog, an inverted V position, stretching your calves and lengthening your spine.
- Lower your elbows gently to the floor, coming into into a Quarter Dog position.
- Press your hands into the floor to straighten your elbows and pull your navel up toward your spine to move the pelvis up and back. Return to your Down Dog to complete one rep.
This push-up works the shoulders, but you are going to need your abs to push off your forearms to return to the Downward Dog position.
- Begin in an elbow plank position with a small, folded towel or paper plate under each elbow. Keep your elbows directly under your shoulders, back flat (neutral spine) and core tight!
- Slide your right elbow forward until your arm is nearly fully extended. With control, bring the right elbow back to center.
- Repeat on the left side. This completes one rep. Start with 10 reps and work your way up to 20!
- If you need to modify, you can drop to your knees (while keeping your back straight and core tight); you'll still work the core and triceps!
You will be shocked by how intense this exercise is on both your abs and arms. But don't throw in the towel (see what I did there?).
Plank With Row
- Start in a plank position holding a weight in your right hand.
- Keep your torso stable as you pull your elbow toward the ceiling, squeezing your right shoulder blade toward your spine.
- Lower the weight to the floor with control to complete one rep.
- Complete 10 reps, then switch sides.
Work your arms and abs while improving your posture with this simple move.
Low to High Woodchop
- Squat and twist left to hold the dumbbell on the outside of your left leg.
- Exhale and lift the weight diagonally across your body, ending twisted to the right with the dumbbell above your head. Pivot on your left foot as needed.
- The move is a bit percussive, so focus on the rotation initiating in your torso.
- Control the weight back up to the starting position to complete one rep.
- Remember you are moving with force but also control. Don't give into the momentum of swinging the weight around.
- Continue "chopping" on one side for 30 seconds; then switch sides.
This is a full-body move that really targets the core and shoulders.
- Begin in a full plank. Lower your right elbow to the mat and then your left, coming into an elbow plank.
- Put your right hand on the mat, and straighten your right elbow. Do the same on the left to return to a full plank.
- Do 10 reps starting with the right arm, the do 10 leading with the left arm.
Your arms will burn after this exercise, but your abs are still working — they keep the torso stable while moving between elbow plank and full plank.
Plank With Alternating Shoulder and Knee Tap
- Begin in a plank variation with your feet slightly wider than your hips.
- Bring your right hand to your left shoulder, then place that hand back on the mat. Bring your left hand to your right shoulder and return it to the mat.
- Bring your right knee and your left hand toward one another under your body. Return to a plank, and switch sides so your left knee meets your right hand.
- This competes one rep. Do 10 reps total.
This plank variation works the entire body! But your abs better kick into gear to keep you stable.
Elbow Plank With Leg Lift
- In an elbow plank, lift your left foot off the floor, keeping your pelvis parallel to the floor. Hold for three seconds, then lower the leg. This completes one rep. Repeat on the other side.
Yes, the elbow plank works the arms, but keeping your torso still and stable while lifting your legs is all abs.
Feet on Medicine Ball Push-Up
- Begin in plank position with you toes resting on a medicine ball.
- Keeping the core engaged, bend and straighten your arms to complete a push-up.
Adding the instability of the medicine ball forces your abs to work overtime in this push-up variation.
- Start on all fours, then lift your knees to hover over the floor.
- Lift your left hand and your right foot off the floor then, then pivot on your left foot to the left, kicking your right leg through and bringing your left arm to your chest.
- Swing your pelvis back and place your left hand on the floor and your right toes, returning to the hover position. Reverse directions, kicking the left leg to the opposite side.
Feel your triceps come alive in this dynamic ab exercise.
Plank With Bunny Hop
- Begin in a plank position with your feet touching.
- Pull your abs in and jump your feet to the right, bringing your knees toward your right elbow. Your torso will twist to the right.
- Jump your feet back to plank to complete one rep.
- Repeat on the other side and continue alternating sides for 20 reps total.
This exercise works the abs, especially the obliques, while raising your heart rate too.
- Begin in a strong tabletop position with your hands under your shoulders, your knees over your ankles, and fingers pointed away from you.
- Lift your left leg up and reach your right hand toward your left toes. Return your hand and foot to floor, lifting the pelvis back to tabletop by squeezing the glutes. This completes one rep. Switch sides for the next rep.
Fire up the back of your arms with this move! Plus the twisting action of the toe touch will work your abs.
- Lie on your back with a three- to five-pound dumbbell in each hand. Raise your arms straight up above your chest, with a slight bend at each elbow. Raise your legs up to tabletop, with knees and hips bent to 90-degree angles.
- Inhale and open your arms to your sides with a slight bend at each elbow. Exhale as you bring your arms back up to starting position.
- Once your arms are back straight, lift your upper back and curl up toward your legs, pushing your weights toward your shins. As you curl up, stretch your legs out in front of you.
- Uncurl your spine slowly as you lower your upper body to the floor while bending your knees back to 90-degree angles. Once your head is back on the floor, release your arms to back out by your sides, making sure not to let your upper arms touch the floor.
- Do 15 to 20 reps for a set. Do at least two sets.
The secret sauce in this exercise: use your abs to control your movement on the way down. Uncurl slowly instead of just letting gravity pull you down.
High to Low Wood Chop
- Holding an eight- to 10-pound dumbbell overhead, twist to the left, pivoting your right foot as needed.
- Exhale and slice the dumbbell across your body to the right as you raise your right knee, bringing the weight to the outside of your right hip.
- Raise the weight back to starting position and lightly tap your right toes to the floor. This completes one rep. Do three sets of 15 reps on each side.
This variation of the wood chop also works the core and the arms.
Lying Chest Fly
- Lie on your back with your hips and knees both at 90-degree angles (tabletop legs). Using your lower abs, press your lower back into the mat. Raise your arms toward the ceiling, palms facing each other, keeping the elbow joints slightly bent.
- Keeping your torso stable, open your arms out to the sides until your elbows are about two inches from the floor.
- Raise your arms back to the ceiling, bringing the weights together over your chest. This counts as one rep.
- Perform two to three sets of 10 to 12 reps.
The chest fly definitely works your pecs and upper arms, but holding the tabletop leg position is no joke. Focus on pulling your low abs to your spine to keep your pelvis stable.
Side Elbow Plank With Pulse
- Start in a side elbow plank on your right side.
- Lower your hips slightly and then lift your pelvis up, feeling the right side of your body engage, especially your abs. This completes one rep.
- Lower your hips, and raise your pelvis; keep pulsing for 20 reps, then switch sides.
Adding the pulse to the side plank works your abs and arms even more.
- Begin in plank position with your hands underneath your shoulders, body in one straight line.
- Simultaneously cross your right hand over your left as you step your left foot to the left. Then simultaneously step your left hand and right foot to the left, so you're back in plank position. Your hands move together as your feet step apart.
- Repeat this for three steps to the left and three steps to the right. Be sure to keep the hips low as you move, drawing the navel toward the spine.
This is one of the best deltoid exercises around and will tone your shoulders, but your abs are getting some serious work, too.
1-Arm Med Ball Push-Up
- Start in a plank position with your left hand on a medicine ball.
- Keeping your torso square to the floor, perform a push-up by bending and straightening both arms. If a traditional push-up is too challenging, lower your knees to the floor.
- Roll the ball to the right hand and do another push-up. This completes one rep.
If you don't feel your abs when you do push-ups, try this variation.