Toned Arms: 5 Moves That'll Get You Strong and Lean Muscles

It doesn't matter if you want to have a sculpted pair of arms to draw some gym envy, show off your work during strapless wedding gown season, or just to be strong — we're here to show you a five-move workout that'll get your upper body toned and lean.

The target muscle groups are your flexors and extensors (or forearms), biceps, triceps, and deltoids. Work each of those and you'll hit other hard-to-reach muscles. The result is strong arms that'll make you want to wear a tank top all year long.

Forearms: Crow Pose
POPSUGAR Photography | Louisa Larson

Forearms: Crow Pose

Crow is an advanced yoga pose that requires superstrong forearms. If you aren't ready to lift off the ground, simply leaning your knees into the backs of your arms and tilting forward until you feel pressure in your forearms, wrists, and hands is enough. As you build endurance, try lifting one foot at a time until you are comfortable trying both feet together.

  • Begin in a wide yogi squat, placing your palms firmly on the ground in front of you, spreading your fingers wide.
  • Lift up from your legs slightly so that you can place your knees as high up onto your triceps as possible, toward your armpits.
  • Shift your weight forward into your hands, leaning your knees further into the backs of your arms.
  • Engage your belly and curve your spine up, like you are being lifted by your shoulder blades.
  • Slowly raise each foot off the ground, balancing on your hands for three to five breaths.
Biceps: Curls

Biceps: Curls

The key to making the traditional biceps curl effective is to make sure you are lifting the right amount of weight. For a typical workout that includes three rounds of a 10-12 rep set, you should be fatiguing by the end of the third set and struggling to complete each rep with good form. The only way you change the muscle is to challenge the muscle. Remember, if it doesn't feel almost too hard, it isn't hard enough. But make sure you listen to your body and resist the urge to do too much too fast.

  • Start by holding a dumbbell in each hand at the sides of the body.
  • Keeping your elbows close to your sides, slowly raise the dumbbells to the chest.
  • Moving with control, lower back to the starting position to complete one rep.
  • Do 10-12 reps for three complete sets.
Triceps: Kickbacks
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Triceps: Kickbacks

Small but fierce: that's the story of the triceps muscles. Underarm sag is a battle everyone fights, and a toned and strong back of the arm is the requisite balance to big, beautiful biceps on the front side. The great thing about triceps kickbacks as an exercise is that the elbows can lock into the sides of the body to prevent overextension of the elbow and to allow for perfect isolation of the targeted muscles. If you don't have dumbbells, try using a resistance band tucked under your feet.

  • Holding a dumbbell in each hand, hinge forward from your hips, bending the knees slightly.
  • Tuck your elbows into your sides and bend your arms to 90 degrees.
  • Keeping your elbows in tight, straighten your arms behind you, with your palms facing in.
  • When you've reached full extension, squeeze your triceps and return to the starting position, completing one repetition.
  • Complete two to three rounds of 10-15 reps, stopping once you start to lose form.
Deltoids: Pike Push-Ups
POPSUGAR Photography | Louisa Larson

Deltoids: Pike Push-Ups

There are so many kinds of deltoids exercises, from a basic shoulder press to multilayer moves like burpees. But if you really want to torch your shoulders, try a pike push-up. These are advanced moves and require some openness in your hamstrings. If you can't do them straight legged, try bending your knees until you can complete a rep successfully.

  • Begin in Downward-Facing Dog, hands planted with fingers wide, hips lifted, weight spread evenly between your feet and hands.
  • Press your chest back toward your thighs so that your head and neck are in a straight line in between your triceps.
  • Slowly and with control, bend your elbows outward, lowering the crown of your head toward the floor.
  • Straighten the elbows, returning to the starting position.
  • Complete five to 10 reps for one to three rounds.
Combo: Plank Rows
POPSUGAR Photography | Benjamin Stone

Combo: Plank Rows

We all love a multitasking move, and the plank row offers so much to so many muscle groups. The forearms are the stabilizers' the deltoids, triceps, and biceps provide the movement; and the weights add an extra challenge to all. Beginners can start with no weight to get used to the movement and the balancing.

  • Start in a high plank with your legs slightly wider than hip-distance for stability.
  • Keeping your hands directly under your shoulders, grip your dumbbells keeping your wrists in a straight line to protect the joint.
  • Tighten your glutes and your abs to hold your hips parallel to the floor.
  • With your right hand, row the weight up along your side body, leading with your elbow, pressing your shoulder blade flat to your back.
  • Return the weight to the ground and repeat on the other side, minimizing any rocking in your hips. This is one rep.
  • Complete two to three rounds of 10-12 reps.