It’s easy for exercise and weight training beginners to think that a good arm workout means targeting only the biceps. While biceps are important if you’re looking to tone your arms, triceps constitute about 2/3 of the muscle in your arms and should be treated with equal or more priority. In this guide, we’ll go over twenty bicep and tricep workouts: ten each, half that you can do by yourself, at home, with no equipment at all, and the other half that will require some extra help from your local gym. Find more exercises and get fit for life in this course.
Bicep workouts are some of the most basic arm workouts. Before you get started, consider doing some quick stretches with this course.
And you can do it all at home! You don’t need a gym to get a good workout. Below, you’ll find a host of great bicep workouts you can do from the comfort of your own home. For more workouts with no equipment necessary, check out this course on easy at home workouts.
1. Incline Curls
Incline curls can be done at home with just dumbbells and an inclined surface to lie on. Lie with your back flat on the surface, holding your weight up partially with your legs – knees bent – and with your arms hanging down by your sides. With elbows extended and arms straight, hold the dumbbells (palms facing you) and then lift them up to your sides.
2. Zottman Curls
Zottman curls use dumbbells as well, and will start you with a dumbbell in each arm, hanging at your side with your elbows fully extended. Curl the weights up towards you, rotating your wrists slightly when you reach shoulder level.
3. Angled Push-Ups
Push-ups are an undeniably great upper body workout. They work your chest, shoulders, triceps, and biceps, but you can tweak it to focus more on the biceps by elevating your feet on a short chair or bench so that you’re at a downward angle. Find more arm-strengthening exercise tips in this guide.
Another classic workout, the pull-up might require some at-home equipment like a pull-up bar that you can affix to a doorway. Learn more about how to do the perfect pull-up to work out your back as well in this guide.
5. Cross Body Curl
The cross body curl requires two dumbbells, one in each hand. Start with your hands at your side with your palms facing you, then curl one dumbbell inwards and upwards towards your chest. You should be able to do this in one smooth motion without twisting anything. Just lift and lower. Do this once with one arm, and then again with the other, and repeat. Find more body building workouts at BodyBuilding.com.
In case you want to go to the gym, the exercises below will require some equipment that you might only be able to find at a gym. Don’t have a gym membership and want to stick with the at-home routines? Check out this course on how to lose weight and get fit at home.
1. Standing Barbell Curl
The standing barbell curl is one of the most basic weightlifting exercises you can do. Grab a barbell with light to medium weights (because you want to do multiple, not a few heavy ones), and hold it down with your arms extended, palms facing away from you. Your hands should be gripping the bar a bit more distant than shoulder length. Lift the bar to about chest level, and then lower it down again.
2. Bicep Curl Machine
There are tons of machines to work your bicep at the gym. Find the bicep curl machine, adjust everything to your level, grip the handles and pull them back towards you.
3. Cable Curl (Low)
Attach a cable to a low pulley attachment on a pulley machine, grip the bars with your palms facing down, and hold it down with your arms fully extended by your sides. Then pull the handles up to about chest level. You want to lower the handles back slowly and take this opportunity to inhale.
4. Cable Curl (High)
Also using a pulley machine, attach a cable to a high pulley and lie down on the bench. Have your knees bent and touching the ground in front of you and your arms fully extended upward, palms facing you as they grip the handles. Then pull the cable down towards your face until the handle is right at your forehead.
5. Preacher Curls
This one uses a preacher curl machine, which you can sit down at and adjust the seat level and weight for. Make sure your upper arms are firmly planted on the pad at chest level with your elbows in, grip the handles, and pull it upward towards your face.
Don’t stop at the bicep workouts. Remember, triceps are even more important! Below you’ll find a list of at-home and at the gym tricep workouts. Check out this guide for more upper body exercise routine ideas.
The following workouts require nothing but your body, the floor, and maybe some furniture. Find more awesome at-home body workouts in this guide.
1. Tricep Dips
Dips are one of the best exercises you can do to work your triceps, chest, and shoulder muscles all at once. You don’t need a machine to do this one, but you will need a space with two even, stable surfaces that you can stand between and put all your weight on. Put both arms on the surfaces at each side, with your back straight, and lift yourself so that you’re suspended between the space. Your arms should be straight in the lift position, and your triceps should be parallel to the flat surface or bar in the dip position. Continue lifting and lowering yourself this way for the set amount of reps.
2. Bench Dips
Bench dips are another good form of the tricep dip exercise, this one also requiring just some standard furniture around the house and no gym equipment. Find a bench-like object to support your back, and another, shorter bench to support your legs. Prop your legs up on the short bench and hold yourself up with your arms on the back bench, lowering your body so that your back is perpendicular to the back bench and your triceps are parallel to its surface. Continue lifting and dipping yourself in this position for the set amount of reps. This exercise should work your chest and shoulders as well.
3. Body-Up Planks
The body-up plank starts in the plank position – don’t use your knees – with your weight supported on your forearms and your torso extended out, straight. Then, press your palms into the ground and lift yourself upward by straightening your elbows out, so that you’re held in a push-up like position (though with arms slightly at an angle). This position should be worked up to slowly, before you slowly lower yourself back to the ground. This exercise will work your abdominal muscles as well. Learn how to build mass in your triceps with these additional exercises.
4. Tricep Push-Ups
This is not a standard push-up, and is designed instead to primarily work the triceps. What makes it different is that your hands will start out on the floor closer together, rather than the standard shoulder width position. You should lower yourself slowly until your chest is basically to the ground. If you don’t feel the burn in your triceps, you’re doing it wrong. Keep your hands close together and focus on using your triceps specifically to lower and lift yourself off the ground.
5. Tricep Press
This exercise might be pushing the “at home only” rule a bit much. You don’t need any exercise equipment, but you will need a chest level surface that you can grip and lower yourself towards and slightly under, in a sort of standing push-up. You’ll want to grip this surface and lean into it at about a 45 degree angle, then lower yourself down until your forearms are perpendicular to the surface or bar that you’re gripping.
Do you have a set of dumbbells you’ve been itching to use? Check out this guide to at-home dumbbell workouts for your arms.
Below you’ll find tricep exercises you’ll need additional equipment such as machines and bench presses for. Check out this course for more exercises to build and shape your body.
1. Tricep Push-Down
The tricep push-down requires a pulley bar machine with a cable grip. Instead of gripping the bar from the top and pushing downward, you’re going to want to grip the bar from the bottom, and pull downwards using your triceps until your arms are fully extended down. You should make sure to stand with your back straight, and keep your upper arms stationary during this routine. Only your forearms should extend down and come back up.
2. Kneeling Tricep Extension
The kneeling tricep extension uses a high pulley machine and a bench. You should kneel on the ground in front of the bench with your back to the pulley machine, prop your elbows up on the bench, shoulder width apart, and plant your head in the middle. Get in this position while holding the pulley bar, starting with your forearms perpendicular to the bench in the upright position. Then extend your forearms out by bending your elbows, pushing the pulley bar forward and then bringing it back up.
3. Tricep Overhead Pull
This exercise requires a low pulley machine with a rope. You’ll want to grip the rope and pull it over your head, with your back to the machine. Both hands should be gripping the rope behind your head, with your forearms making a V shape and your upper arms pointed out, elbow forward, as if you’re reclining with your hands behind your head. Then, pull the rope upward at an angle, above your head by extending your elbows out.
4. Tricep Dip Machine
There isn’t much to say about the dip machine if you know how to do manual dips at home, without equipment. The nice thing about the dip machine is that you don’t have to suspend yourself. Just sit, and push the bars on each side of you down, bringing them back up slowly.
5. Tricep Bench Press
All you need for this exercise is a bench press and a suitable bar bell. The key to this is to bring the weight down slowly until it’s almost touching your chest, and then focus on raising it with your triceps.