If you’ve dipped your toe into the fitness world (or dived in head first) you’re probably aware of the trope that men don’t train legs. Well ladies, there is another trope. Women don’t train arms! Let’s back up for a second. Many women train arms, in the same way that many men train legs. But there is definitely a trend that many men avoid squats while many women avoid the bench press. If this is you, then you need to read this article!

What do we mean by tone?

Tone is such an odd term, because it isn’t really all that scientific. When we say you’re going to tone your arms what we really mean is you are going to build the muscles of your arms while lowering the body fat. This “tones” the arms.

Why did we bother talking about this? Because there is a sort of taboo around women lifting weights, maybe not so much in recent years. But ten years ago, many women would run away in terror if you presented them with a barbell.

The reason for this was not fear of the exercises themselves, but a fear that women would develop too much muscle and become bulky. This misconception has its roots in the female bodybuilders of the 1980s and early 90s who took a LOT of performance enhancing drugs and ended up looking massive.

If the idea of building biceps the size of watermelons is putting you off, then rest assured, this is not going to happen to you! Due to women having much lower natural testosterone levels then men, large muscles are almost impossible. What you’ll get is lean, slender, “toned” arms.

What Muscles Do I need to Target for Toned Arms?

It is possible to train your arms in isolation, performing hundreds of bicep curls and tricep pushdowns. But this will lead to sub-optimal results. It will also be mind-numbingly boring and could lead to overuse injuries. Besides, the biceps and triceps only make up a part of your arms.

A good program for toned arms will also concentrate on your shoulders, as well as back and chest. The exercises required to work your chest will help tone your shoulders and triceps, while the exercises that work your back will also target your biceps. So, it makes perfect sense to include them.

Most people who want toned arms, don’t realise how much the shoulders play a part in this, but a well-defined deltoid makes the rest of the arm look toned and healthy (rather than just skinny). Strengthening your shoulders will also help improve your posture and prevent certain injuries. So well worth adding in a few shoulder-specific exercises.

Tone Your Arms with This Workout

This training program is going to be full-body, but we are going to emphasise the arms. Why are we doing it this way? Because neglecting your legs to focus on your arms exclusively would lead to a poor physique. We’re going to go for medium to high reps in most exercises, using a weight that is challenging! None of this 2kg dumbbells and ankle weights rubbish.

Rest times between each set should be around 60-90 seconds, and a little longer for bigger exercises such as deadlifts, squats, and bench presses.

The program will be four days per week, and will be split into push and pull (pushing exercises such as presses, squats on one day, pulling exercises such as deadlifts, pull ups on the other). This will allow you to recover from one session while training the next day. Perfect for anyone who struggles to fit training into their lives (i.e. all of us).

Session One (Push)

  • Dumbbell Goblet Squats 3 x 12-15 reps
  • Dumbbell Lunges 3 x 10 reps (each leg)
  • Dumbbell Bench Press 3 x 8-12 reps
  • Cable Rear Delt Flyes 3 x 12-15 reps
  • Dumbbell Skull Crushers 3 x 8-12 reps
  • Cable Tricep Overhead Pulldown 1 x Triple Drop Set*
  • Abdominal Crunches 3 x 12 reps

Session Two (Pull)

  • Lying Leg Curl Machine 3 x 20 reps
  • Deadlifts 3 x 6-8 reps
  • Cable Face Pulls 3 x 12 reps
  • Assisted Chin Ups 3 x 10 reps**
  • Seated Cable Rows 3 x 12-15 reps
  • Seated Incline Dumbbell Bicep Curls (alternating) 3 x 12 reps (each arm)
  • Single Arm Preacher Hammer Curls 3 x 10 reps (each arm)
  • Plank 10 x 15 seconds***

REST

  • Keep your step count up
  • Sleep more
  • Increase your protein slightly

Session Three (Push)

  • Barbell Back Squats 3 x 6-10 reps
  • Leg Extension Machine 3 x 12-15 reps
  • Barbell Close-Grip Bench Press 3 x 8-12 reps
  • Incline Dumbbell Flyes 2 x 20 reps
  • Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press 3 x 8-10 reps
  • Dumbbell Shoulder Front Raises 2 x 20 reps (superset with side raises, no rest)
  • Dumbbell Shoulder Side Raises 2 x 20 reps (superset with front raises, no rest)
  • Cable Tricep Pushdown 3 x 8-12 reps
  • Bent Knee Crunches 3 x 12 reps

Session Four (Pull)

  • Seated Leg Curls 3 x 12-15 reps
  • Romanian Deadlifts 3 x 8-12 reps
  • Cable Face Pulls 3 x 6-10 reps
  • Lat Pulldown Machine 3 x 8-12 reps
  • Barbell Bent Over Row (underhand grip) 3 x 6-8 reps
  • Barbell Bicep Curls 3 x 6-10 reps
  • Alternating Dumbbell Hammer Curls 3 x 8 reps (each arm)
  • Plank 10 x 15 seconds

REST

  • Keep your step count up
  • Sleep more
  • Increase your protein slightly

 

 

Notes

*As many reps on a heavy weight, drop the weight and continue, drop the weight for one final set. No rest

**Use an underhand grip to emphasise the biceps

*** Holding a plank for 15 seconds then resting will work your abs just as much as a 150 second plank, but your form will be better, and you can squeeze those muscles tighter.

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