Working out your arms and shoulders is a sure way to get toned, attractive muscles in that part of your body. But there are additional health reasons to consider adding arm strength work to your exercise routine, especially if you're over 30. As you age, your muscles start to lose mass. This process is called sarcopenia. After 30, you can lose as much as 3% to 5% of muscle mass per decade. Strength training builds muscle mass to replace what you lose due to natural aging.
Losing muscles mass in your upper body can result in weakness and loss of range of motion. Over the long term, you may find that you have trouble lifting everyday objects, such as a bag of groceries or a suitcase. In addition, you might notice that you can’t reach up or out as well anymore. Placing objects in a high cabinet may be more of an effort than it was in the past. Even driving can be more difficult without adequate strength and flexibility in your arms and shoulders.
You don't need to join a gym or buy a set of very heavy weights to exercise your arms. You can start with simple moves using your own body weight or light weights. Here are a few sure to build stronger arms and shoulders.
The overhead press aims to strengthen your shoulders, upper back, and triceps as well as your chest and neck. You can do this move holding a household item such as a soup can or small water bottle or with small dumbbells. If you have access to a gym, you can use barbells or an overhead press machine.
- Start with your hands raised and your elbows at a 90-degree angle.
- Slowly raise your arms above your head.
- Hold for one to three seconds
- Slowly lower your arm to the start position and repeat.
You can do one to three sets consisting of eight to 10 repetitions each.
The upright row targets your trapezius, deltoid, and bicep muscles. If you're doing this at home, you can use a resistance band. If you're at the gym, you can use a machine designed for upright row exercises or use free weights with a spotter.
- Stand with the resistance band under your feet and one end in each hand. If you are using weights or a machine, stand with the bar in your hands and your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Turn your hands so that your palms face your body.
- Pull your arms upward so that your hands come up the center of your body and your elbows bend out to your sides.
- Hold for one to three seconds.
- Slowly return your arms to the start position and repeat.
You can do one to three sets of this exercise consisting of eight to 10 repetitions each.
This exercise works the bicep, tricep, pectoral, and anterior deltoid muscles. You can adjust the difficulty by moving your feet closer to or farther away from the wall.
- Stand in front of a wall at your preferred distance.
- Place your hands on the wall at chest height, shoulder-width apart.
- Bend your elbows to bring your upper body closer to the wall, leaving your feet in place. Let your heels come up off the floor. Keep your core rigid and don’t bend at the waist.
- Push yourself back to the start position and repeat.
You can do one to three sets of this exercise consisting of 10 to 15 repetitions each.
This is a classic exercise that will lead to stronger biceps. It also works the brachialis and brachioradialis muscles which help with lower arm fitness. You can do this exercise with dumbbells, cans, or bottles in your hand.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Hold one weight in each hand with your palms facing forward.
- Slowly bend your elbows to bring the weights up toward your shoulders.
- Hold for one to three seconds.
- Slowly return arms to the starting position.
Do one to three sets of eight to 10 curls.
How Often Should You Do Arm Exercises
If you're just starting a strength training routine, you should give your muscles time to recover between workouts. Each muscle group needs at least 48 hours between workouts. That gives your muscles time to rest but not so much time between sessions that you lose all your progress. You should aim to work out every day, alternating between muscle groups so that you don't risk injury.
If you're unsure whether you're healthy enough for strength training, check with your doctor. They can help you make a plan to increase strength and flexibility safely.