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The 10 Best Arm Workouts for Explosive Biceps and Triceps

Man with headphones in doing a dumbbell row exercise.

If you run or cycle, chances are you spend a lot of time strengthening your legs to get sculpted calves and chiseled quads, and if you play sports like basketball or tennis, you may even do a great job strengthening your hips and glutes so you can jump high and sprint quickly. But, no matter what activity you enjoy, it’s also important to have strong arms.

Strong arms not only can get you an enviable physique and make you feel confident in your body, but they also help you with everything from crushing your workouts and boosting your athletic performance to carrying kids and groceries to moving furniture. To help you get the ripped arms you’ve always wanted, we’ve compiled a list of the most effective arm exercises for men — specifically targeted at your biceps and triceps. If you want to round out your exercise routine, be sure to read our roundup of the best shoulder exerciseshamstring exercises, and ab exercises.

Best Tricep Exercises

While many people newer to fitness give biceps all the love because they are the ones you can easily catch sight of in the mirror, the triceps, which are the muscles in the back of your upper arms, hold the key to maximizing your power and functional strength with any pushing task.

Cable-Rope Tricep Extension

Man pulling a rope during workout.
Getty

Equipment needed: Tricep Rope Cable Attachment, Wall Mount Cable Station
Reps: 11-15
Sets: 3

Execution: Secure the cable rope attachment in the top position of a cable machine. Stand about two feet back from the top of the pulley with your feet shoulder-width apart, grasping one end of the cable attachment rope in each hand. Engage your core and glutes so that your torso is rigid and braced. Keep your elbows tucked at your sides while you extend your arms down until they are fully straightened. Then slowly bring your arms back up, focusing on squeezing your triceps as you do so. If you do not have access to a cable station, you can use resistance bands secured overhead on a pull-up bar or door anchor.

Skullcrushers

Man performing a skullcrusher rep.
lawcain/Getty Images

Equipment needed: Dumbbells or Barbell and weights
Reps: 8-12
Sets: 3-5

Execution: Lie on a bench holding a couple of dumbbells or a barbell. The weight should be light enough that you can maintain proper form for each rep but heavy enough that you’re near exhaustion by the end of each set. Engage your core, draw your shoulder blades together, and raise your arms up straight towards the ceiling. Keeping your elbows directly above your shoulders, use your triceps to move just your forearms to slowly lower the dumbbells until they reach the level of your ears or the barbell is just above your head. Return to the starting position.

Dumbbell Kickbacks

Man pulling a dumbbell towards his body.
Obradovic/Getty Images

Equipment needed: Dumbbell or Kettlebell
Reps: 8-10 (per arm)
Sets: 3-4

Execution: Before getting started with this one, we have an important safety note. It’s especially important to not overdo the weight with this exercise, as doing so can strain your shoulders. Instead, focus on proper form and use a light enough weight that you’re not straining to lift it, but rather using your triceps to fully control the movement. Place your right foot on the floor kicked back behind you and grab the dumbbell in your right hand. Your left knee and hand should be on the bench as if on all fours. Your back should be straight and core engaged. Lift your right arm so that your elbow is tucked at your side, your upper arm is alongside your torso, and your forearm is perpendicular to the floor. Extend your forearm back behind you until your arm is fully straight and your forearm is parallel with your body. Slowly return to the starting position. After completing all the reps on one side, switch sides.

Pull-Ups

Man doing a pull up.
Getty

Equipment needed: Pull-up bar
Reps: 4-6
Sets: 4-5

Execution: Pull-ups are one of the best exercises for your back muscles and triceps. Grab the pull-up bar with your palms facing away from you. Engage your core while you drive your elbows toward the floor to lift your body up. When your chin or chest is above the bar, lower your body back down until your arms are fully extended.

Diamond Push-Up

Man doing a push up outside.
Getty

Equipment needed: None
Reps:
10
Sets:  
3-4

Execution: This tough push-up modification really targets your triceps and requires quite a bit of core strength for balance. Get in a normal push-up position but instead of placing your hands shoulder-width apart, move them in towards one another in the center so that your fingertips and thumbs touch and form a diamond. From this position, lower your chest toward the ground by bending your elbows until they are flexed to a 90° angle. You should feel more stress on your triceps. Press through your palms to return to the starting position.

Best Bicep Exercises

Who doesn’t want to have biceps that pop out like iron-clad potatoes and allow you to lift anything in sight? Here are the best exercises for strong biceps.

Dumbbell Biceps Curls

Man curling a smaller dumbbell.
Getty

Equipment needed: Dumbbells
Reps:
10-12
Sets:  
3-5

Execution: Hold a dumbbell in each hand at your side, keep your elbows tucked along your torso, and engage your core. Either simultaneously or in an alternating fashion, bend your elbows to bring the dumbbell up to your shoulders until your elbows are fully bent. Slowly lower back down without allowing gravity to do any of the work.

EZ Bar Curls

Man curling a bar with weights.
Getty

Equipment needed: Barbell and weights
Reps:
10-15
Sets:  
4-5

Execution: Grab a barbell with both hands with your palms facing up. Keeping your elbows as close to your sides as possible and core engaged, bend both elbows to bring the weight to your chest. Return to the starting position in a slow, controlled fashion without relying on gravity. Move slowly throughout (moving quickly will allow momentum to assist you) and keep a fully upright position with your shoulders back.

Concentration Curls

Man curling a dumbbell.
Getty

Equipment needed:Dumbbell
Reps:
10-12
Sets:  3-4

Execution: Sit on a bench with your legs spread and a dumbbell in one hand. Rest your elbow on your thigh so that your upper arm is perpendicular to the floor. Bring the weight toward your shoulder by contracting the biceps muscle on the working arm. Slowly lower back down.

Chin-Up

Man doing a pull up.
Getty

Equipment needed: Pull-up bar
Reps: 
4-6
Sets:  4-5

Execution: Pull-ups target the triceps, while this easier variation relies more on your biceps. Using an underhanded grip (palms facing you), grab the pull-up bar with your hands shoulder-width apart and core engaged. Drive your elbows towards the ground and use your biceps, shoulders, and upper back to raise your body above the bar until at least your chin clears the top of the bar. Slowly lower back down until your arms are fully extended.

Incline Hammer Curls

Man holding dumbbells in a gym.

Equipment needed: Dumbbells
Reps:
12
Sets:  4-5

Execution: Adjust a bench so that it is at a 45- to a 60-degree angle. Recline back with your arms hanging down each side directly below your shoulders holding a dumbbell such that your palms are facing inwards. Keeping this inward-facing palm position, curl your arms until the dumbbells reach your shoulders. Slowly lower the weights back down, again being sure not to allow gravity to do all the work.

Any of these exercises can also be included in a total body workout for even better results!

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