We know how it gets. When life hits you with bad weather or busy work days, it’s easy to deter from your proposed fitness regimen, which leads to working out less (or even not at all). Arm exercises can be a great method to maintain, build, and tone muscle for new lifters looking to find a starting point.
The Manual has teamed up with Portland-based personal trainer, Kisar Dhillon, and his team at The Art of Personal Training to show us a basic strength training routine. These arm exercises are flexible and easy to complete at the gym, at home, or even at work.
Though simple, this mix of best arm exercises for men will create a strong base for your upper body and core when starting a fitness routine.
In the video about, The Art of Personal Training’s lead personal trainer, Peter Fuller, shows us how to do an overhead press correctly. Fuller shows proper form, breathing technique, and how to mix things up if you’re looking for an added challenge.
Before You Begin
It’s essential to use proper and safe lifting techniques when working out — no matter how intense — to prevent injury and ensure the results you’re looking for. Dhillon, who has been in the fitness industry for over two decades, expands on Fuller’s explanation of proper breathing technique:
- Inhale on the eccentric and exhale on the concentric. Take a leg squat workout, for example: When squatting down toward the floor (eccentric contraction) you will want to inhale, and when rising into a straight position (concentric contraction) you’ll want to exhale.
- Do not hold your breath. This will cause intra-abdominal pressure, or a Valsalva maneuver, which can result in seeing stars, passing out, and even vomiting. In addition, you do not want to reverse your breathing because you will lose integrity in your core and surrounding muscles, which are usually activated when you are breathing correctly while moving with resistance.
- If you’re still having trouble, try counting under your breath. When you are completing a repetition, count underneath your breath. This is an involuntary way to move air or exhale, while also making proper breathing a routine action while active. For example, when you are doing a chest press and you are pushing the bar away from your chest, say the number “one” softly and when you are doing your second rep, say “two,” etc.
Fuller is using 15-pound dumbbells in the video, but remember that he is in top shape. We suggest starting out with 10-pound weights and moving up from there. It’s easy to add weight if something is too easy, but if you start with too much weight, your risk of injury increases greatly. You can find easy-to-transport and adjustable dumbbells on Amazon and some other fitness equipment suggestions here.
Ready? Let’s get sweating.
Overhead Presses: 2 sets of 8-10 reps
Keep your core tight and inflate your stance by sucking your butt and hips in. This will promote a happy and neutral spine area, thus a stable base for lifting. Then, starting with the dumbbells at your ears, go straight up. With a good stance, it should be easier to maneuver the weights up and down in a straight line. When finishing, you should also end with the dumbbells at your ears.
Fuller notes that he enjoys exercises like the overhead press because they’re compound movements, meaning it makes use of multiple joints. This is another way to stave injury and complete a well-rounded, full-body exercise.
Arm Presses with Band: 2 sets of 10-15 reps
Now onto the arm presses with a resistance band. Arm presses are one of the best arm exercises for men because of they’re flexible and provide a killer burn. Use a similar stance as the overhead press, while standing on the resistance band for a base. Then, go straight up and down. And don’t rush — feel the burn and the results will follow suit.
Curls: 2 sets of 8-10 reps
Curls, curls, curls. Dumbbell curls are an obvious addition to the list of best exercises for men, but for good reason. Using dumbbells ensures one arm has to work individually, meaning the bicep muscle movements are more concentrated and productive.
However, good posture is still priority number one. If you’re swinging back and forth like the guys who skip leg day, you can put yourself at risk to a serious injury. Do each arm one at a time — there’s no need to rush.
Twisted Curls: 2 sets of 8-10 reps
Now, if you’re looking to add a little more to your regimen, you can try twisted curls. This is a simple variation of your typical dumbbell curl, but different nonetheless. Instead of lifting straight up, give the dumbbell a twist when you reach the top. This will give your forearms the attention they deserve.
Want to work on your legs or core next? Check out the best leg workouts here and core exercises here. Keep rolling with more fitness tips from expert trainer Mike Barwis, RUMBLE Boxing co-founder Noah Neiman, gladiator Lee Jimenez, and model Michael Markiewicz.