The 7 Best Arm Exercises for Beginners

Sometimes starting a new workout can be intimidating, especially if you’re working on a new muscle group. If you compare your arms to toothpicks or struggle to see the definition in your biceps, then this post is definitely for you. Scroll below to find the seven best beginner arm exercises to get you started on the right path.

If you’re like me, sometimes it’s difficult to know where to start? Do I focus on triceps or biceps? If you’re beginning arm exercises, the answer to all three should be “yes.” Fitness instructors from across the Internet agree that starting somewhere is better than not beginning at all. The seven workouts below will help you get an excellent overview of different strategies to shape your upper body.  

Yet, before we get too much further, let’s address another panic point for beginners: picking the right amount of weight. When you’re new to strength training, it’s best to use lighter weights for moves initially since you want to focus on keeping good form (don’t worry, you’ll still be building muscle). Once you feel comfortable, you may begin to increase the weight for each arm exercise slowly. As a rule of thumb, when starting with a set of dumbbells or a barbell, women typically begin at 5-10 pounds, and men begin at 10-20 pounds.

Use caution, but I personally shoot for ten reps over three sets each. If you feel like you need to stop or take a breath, then take a break. Don’t burn out and get yourself hurt. If you’re new, I encourage you to read 6 Workout Safety Tips at the Gym.  

Now, let’s get started!

Bicep Curl

One of the most perfect arm exercises to get started. Let’s start feeling the burn and begin with dumbbells. Stand holding a dumbbell in each hand with your arms hanging by your sides. Ensure your elbows are close to your torso and your palms facing forward. Keeping your upper arms stationary, exhale as you curl the weights up to shoulder level while contracting your biceps.  

Watch the video for right posture:

Chest Fly

When you learn how to do a chest fly, you add to your portfolio of exercises for a more well-rounded upper body. Start with dumbbells facing upwards in each hand and arms extended out on the floor. Lift weights to meet above your chest, then return to the starting position.

Bent-Over Row

Grab the bar with your hands (palms-down), just wider than shoulder-width apart, and let it hang with your arms straight. Brace your core, including your shoulders, to row the weight up until it touches your sternum, then slowly lower it back down again. There’s one rep.

Here’s the video to understand the full-range of motion required:

Tricep Extension

With feet shoulder-width apart and core tight, hold a dumbbell with both hands. Lift the dumbbell until your arms are fully extended, palms facing the roof and elbows pointing forward. Bending at the elbows and squeezing your triceps, slowly lower the dumbbell behind your head. Just be careful not to drop the weights on yourself. Go down on weight if it’s too heavy!

Preacher Barbell Curls

This exercise is similar to the barbell or dumbbell curl you did earlier. Instead, you will be leaning forward against a slanted pad, known as the “preacher bench.” Hold the barbell or dumbbells so that the palms of your hands are facing up. Extend your arms over the slanted pad so that your armpits are just touching the edge. Your feet should stay hip-width apart, and your feet should remain flat on the floor. Curl the weight towards your face, keeping the bottom of your upper arms touching the bench at all times.

Concentration Curl

Sit down on a bench and rest your right arm against your right leg, letting the weight hang down. Curl the weight up, pause, then lower. Repeat with the other arm. This exercise isolates the arm flexors and hits the lateral head of the biceps for peak performance (and appearance).

Ball Slams 

Finally, a workout that doesn’t include a barbell! Grab a 12-20lb medicine ball (that won’t bounce) and hold it in your hands, placing your feet shoulder-width apart with a slight bend in your knees. Now, throw the ball down on the ground in front of your feet. It would be best to do this while bending at your knees and following through the motion with your arms. Don’t forget to exhale as you slam the ball as hard as you can!  

Pick up the ball and return to the starting position to repeat. After each set, take 30-90 seconds of rest and repeat. P.S. This is a great way to work off some stress!  


Did these arm exercises help you? Was there something that I missed? I’d love to hear your thoughts at Also, be sure to subscribe to the Heart & Soul Newsletter to receive more great tips straight to your inbox each Friday.  

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