5 Moves For Toned, Strong Arms

Need to freshen up your standard upper body routine? Here are four variations on classic upper body moves that will add some variety to your workout. All five of these exercises can be performed on their own, or you can combine them to build a routine. Even though it's not "new," we start with the basic push-up because it's always awesome and relevant, then continue to add from there.

1. Basic Push-up

Start in a plank position with shoulders stacked over wrists. Engage your legs and core while pressing your heels back. Bend your elbows and lower down, then press back up. Move your whole body at the same time. Repeat.

Variation: Lower to your knees instead instead of starting on your toes. You can also widen or narrow your hands.

2. Plank Crossup

Come into a plank position holding medium-weight dumbbells. Keeping your core engaged, life your right hand with the weight across and over to your left shoulder. Return right hand to ground. Cross the left hand with weight over to right shoulder, then return it to the ground. Repeat as many reps as is challenging for you.

For the build: Add your push-ups right there on the dumbbells. Try doing the plank crossups first, then push-ups, or mix them up.

3. Get Upright Row

Start standing with one dumbbell in your right hand. Either squat or hinge like a deadlift to lower right hand to the ground, making sure not to round your back on the way down. Place the weight on the ground under your shoulder, then step or hop back to a plank. Now step or hop back up into a squat. Stand up with a flat back as you do an upright row. Repeat, alternating sides.

For the build: Add the plank crossups and pushups (have the other dumbbell near you).

4. Bring It In Curls

Start standing (you could also do this seated) with a dumbbell in each hand. Cross curl your right hand to your left shoulder. At the same time do a regular bicep curl with your left hand (it will curl on top of the right hand). You'll basically end up bringing both weights into you on the left side. Uncurl the arms and repeat on the other side. Cross curl and regular curl. Repeat side-to-side.

For the build: Drop into a plank and release one weight for the get upright row, add the dumbbell back in for the plank crossup and the push-ups.

5. Underhand Kickback

Start standing with one dumbbell in each hand or one handle in each hand. (This can be done with dumbbells (easier transition for the build) or with bands as shown here.) Flip your palms to face forward and press the backs of the hands behind you as you engage the triceps. Gently release down and repeat.

For the build: Add in the bring it in curls with your dumbbells and then set down one weight for the get upright row, plank crossup and push-ups. If using a band turn around and do the bring it in curls facing away from the anchor point. Use dumbbells for the rest.

Photo courtesy of the author

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Shauna Harrison

Ph.D. & Movement Advocate
Shauna Harrison, Ph.D., is a self-proclaimed nerd, hip-hop head, jock, and yogi. Teaching fitness was a side gig for Shauna while she attended Stanford, UCLA, and Johns Hopkins. Twenty years, three graduate degrees, and multiple brand partnerships later, she is now a full-time movement advocate. She is a TRX® ambassador; creator of Muscle & Flow, #SWEATADAY, and Hip Hop Cycle®; and is also the creative director and a lifestyle athlete for Zenrez.
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Shauna Harrison

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